How to Keep a Cat Out of a Christmas Tree: 6+ Ways

Peter Chambers

Dec 5, 2023


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You can approach cat-proofing your Christmas tree in a couple of ways. First, you can attempt to deter the cat as much as possible by learning how to keep a cat out of a Christmas tree. Adversely, you may have given up — perhaps you’ve tried every tactic in the book, but you still want your tree during the holidays. Then, there are methods for you to make your tree as safe and cat-friendly as possible. 

Today, we will go over strategies for each scenario because it is crucial to know both sides. 

How to Keep a Cat Out of a Christmas Tree

This is the first course of action. Let’s try and entice the cat to stay away from the tree at all costs. In an ideal world, they would never touch it — no matter how devious and cute it might be sometimes.

1. Pick a Smaller Tree

Not only are taller trees bringing your sweet cats closer to the ceiling, which is asking for a tree to fall over, but it makes them more curious. The taller the structure, the more interested they become in whether or not they can reach the summit. You’re better off choosing a shorter tree, even if you can’t fit as many ornaments.

2. Place the Tree Away From Favorite Spots

Is your couch’s arm your kitty’s favorite launching spot? Do you have a scratching post or cat tree within 10 feet of the tree? Consider questions like these when positioning your tree. Make sure there isn’t anywhere nearby that would make it easier for them to ascend the branches.

You can also choose to keep the Christmas tree behind a closed door. If you have a sitting room, game room, or somewhere else closed off at night, you can keep it safe during the evening.

3. Spray Smells Cats Don’t Like

There are plenty of scents cats are opposed to. Premade sprays are out there at pet stores to spritz around the base and branches, or you can make something yourself. Before you do, ensure the perfumes or smells are non-toxic to cats. 

There is a significant difference between smells cats hate versus what could possibly make them sick. Here are some odors that will hopefully prevent your cat from entering Christmas tree territory:

  • White or apple cider vinegar
  • Rosemary plants
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemon balm plants

Be careful when using essential oils for scents because the concentration might be toxic even if the natural plant is not.

4. Keep Cords Out of Sight

A good rule for Christmas trees and cats is to give them no reason to be around the tree. If your cat enjoys chewing on cords, don’t add more visible opportunities for them to mess around. Anything related to lights should be under a rug, covered with cord protectors, stored in a cord box or disguised in another way that makes them unidentifiable. 

5. Set Up a Barrier

There are a few tried-and-true tricks of the trade from keeping cats away from a tree’s base. Some people place treated pine cones around the perimeter, sprayed with scents cats hate. You can also put aluminum foil around the bottom trunk. 

Many cats hate the sound and feel of foil, so after they paw at it once, they may never do it again. Your cat could be an outlier, but as with the rest of these tactics, it’s all about trying methods until you find something that works.

6. Intrigue Them With Something Elsewhere

The Christmas tree will be the most novel and fascinating item in the home for the cat. You don’t need to buy your cats hundreds of dollars of new toys and cat trees every year to distract them from your tree’s wonder, but it might be in your best interest to keep some toys hidden for most of the year and pull them out during the holidays. Ensure it’s a toy they love so they stay occupied with it instead of being occupied by the tree.

How to Design a Cat-Friendly Tree

The sparkliest bulb in the tree might cause a cat to ignore every deterring measure you have, so it might as well be safe and sound.

Go for Fake

Pine needles might intrigue cats because of how they smell. Plus, they create fun toys all over the floor as they fall. Real trees require water basins to stay alive, which hosts a few concerns. 

First, it invites cats to come to the tree’s base to drink. Second, they might consume something they shouldn’t, just because different bacteria thrive near trees compared to potentially filtered water fountains. Instead of worrying about all of this, opt for a reusable tree.

There are also trees that hang from hooks on the ceiling. They are lightweight, preventing cats from accessing them so long as they stay out of a long leap’s way.

Weigh Down the Base

If your cat does climb or pounce at the tree, the last thing you want is for everything to topple over, potentially damaging the well, your decorations, or harming your cat. Depending on what kind of base your tree has, you can add heavy rocks or weigh down plastic with everything from encyclopedias to bricks.

Phase Out Plastic Tinsel and Garland

Stringy, shiny plastic looks like treats to cats. If you put countless colorful wraps around your tree, all the cat will want to do is unravel it. Instead, you can omit it entirely or replace it with something matte, such as paper garland. Additionally, keep it out of the lower branches so it stays out of reach.

Remove Other Dangers

Here are a few other decorative bits you may want to consider eliminating during the holiday season for your cat’s safety:

  • Fake snow
  • Small ornaments
  • Metal ornament hooks
  • Real candles
  • Orange peels
  • Real mistletoe, holly and poinsettias
  • Candy bowls and chocolate displays

How to Keep a Cat Out of a Christmas Tree for Good

There are plenty of tactics to make your cat disinterested in your Christmas tree. Whether it’s aluminum foil or keeping it in a locked room, it’s just as important to keep the tree as safe as your cat. Decorating, placing, and sourcing the tree in a fashion that prioritizes your fur baby’s health will keep you sane in the colder months and out of the emergency veterinarian. 

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