Tom Lohr is an avid home DIY enthusiast. He prefers to spend the money he saves on new tools and gardening supplies.
It's Claus, Not Claws
If you want a deep belly laugh, search YouTube for cats and Christmas trees. It seems felines can't help themselves during the holidays, and at some time during that period will investigate your tree. Interaction between your cat and the tree can range from simple batting of lower-hanging ornaments to climbing to the top of it. In case you were wondering, cats climbing Christmas trees rarely ends well, your cat ends up being a longhaired lumberjack as it topples the tree.
Cats are pretty resilient and usually don't get injured by their Yuletide antics, but they can be, and it is best for your cat's health and your sanity to keep kitty out of the tree. Here are the best ways to ensure your cat doesn't become a YouTube sensation.
Pick the Right Tree
If you are going to erect a live Christmas tree, choose a type that discourages cats. The Colorado Blue Spruce and Norway Spruce are of the more prickly variety of pine trees. Using one of those two types will make the tree less enticing to climb.
Let Your Cat Get Used to It
Before decorating your tree, let it stand by itself without the ornaments and lights for a few days. Cats love to check out anything new in the house and will undoubtedly be drawn to the small forest you just erected in the living room. Let the cat get used to the new tree and it will be less likely to check it out when it is fully decorated.
Choose Decorations Wisely
Cats love to bat around anything that is hanging. The shiny balls on your Christmas trees make the perfect toy for your feline. If you can tolerate not hanging balls on your tree, you will remove the temptation. If you absolutely have to have them, get the smallest size possible.
Strategic Placement of Ornaments
Try to leave the lower third of your tree bare. The lower the ornaments are, the more likely your cat will want to bat at them.
Do you know what is worse than your cat climbing your tree? Your cat making a giant leap from the fireplace mantel to launch itself into the tree. All of that cat inertia is sure to tip it over. Occasionally, a cat can climb up a Christmas tree and extricate itself without destroying most of the decorations or hurting itself, but jumping onto the tree never ends well. Place your tree far enough from any jump-off points that your cat won't be tempted.
Sequester the Tree
I know the idea is for everyone to be able to sit back and enjoy the tree while sipping eggnog. But consider removing most of the furniture from a spare bedroom or other seldom-used room of the house and making that the Christmas tree and present room. Keep the door closed when not in use to keep the kitty out.
Protect the Base
If your cat is going to shimmy up the tree, it will have to do so starting from the base. There are several methods to discourage your cat from getting near the base of the tree.
The simplest is wrapping the bottom in tin foil. Cats hate foil and will avoid it. They also dislike the smell of citrus. You can place orange peels around the bottom of the tree every few days to make the area aromatically offensive to cats.
There are also electrostatic mats that give a small jolt when stepped on. Or you could just use some generic cat repellant. The spray repellant is my favorite because you can also use it for other areas of your house should the need arise.
Install an Alarm
Place small bells as part of your decorations on the tree. Even place some on the lower third. If your cat begins to toy with the tree, you will be alerted and can take preemptive action.
Ditch the Lights
Humans are not the only ones mesmerized by Christmas lights; cats love them too. It's tough to put up a tree sans lights, but if you really want to keep your tree cat-free, it's a small sacrifice to make.
The Most Beautiful Time of the Year
Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the United States. With all of the joy and merriment, it is easy to get caught up in the spirit of Christmas and want to go all-out with decorations. For your cat, it is one of the most stressful times of the year. Not only are there strange things added to its environment that it feels compelled to check out, the influx of company means a stream of strangers for your cat.
Keeping the cat out of the tree can help reduce the stress on both you and your kitty. Christmas is also the most expensive holiday of the year. Adding in a Christmas tree-related vet bill can put a damper on the mood. Protect your cat and your sanity, cat-proof your tree.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2021:
These are all great tips. We no longer put up a Christmas tree once we had inside cats. We used other types of decorations instead. Yes, having a vet bill at that time of year due to a tree mishap would dampen the spirits.
Liz Westwood from UK on September 23, 2021:
These are great tips. I have had friends who have had issues with cats and Christmas trees.