Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree With These 12 Easy Tricks

Whether you're apt to find your cat inside the Christmas tree, or batting off the ornaments, we've got some simple solutions to help.

Updated November 23, 2023
Cat knocked over christmas tree

Ever witnessed your Christmas tree take a fall thanks to your mischievous cat's acrobatics? It's not fun for the tree, you, or your furry buddy! But don't worry, we've got the 'clawsome' solutions to cat-proof your Christmas tree and enjoy a purr-fectly festive season!

1. Avoid Placement Near Launching Surfaces

Cats are parkour masters. A Christmas tree next to a bookshelf or other elevated surface could be an invitation for your leaping feline to launch themselves onto the tree. Try to place it in an area away from surrounding platforms. If this is unavoidable, a Scat Mat or other deterrent on the launch zone can keep your cat off it. 

2. Try Repellent Sprays

Cats are very sensitive to smells, so offensive odors could keep them away from the tree. And one of their most detested scents is actually something we like: citrus. Try placing some orange peels around the base of the tree or make your own cat-safe repellent spray. Some pet owners also find success with products like Four Paws Keep Off! Whatever you use, just know that the scent will wear off, so you'll have to reapply it every few days.

3. Keep Decorations High

Keep Decorations High

A shiny, dangling ornament at the bottom of the tree can easily catch a cat's eye. It might even be enough to lure your cat inside the Christmas tree. Avoid placing decorations near the ends of the branches or close to the bottom to remove the temptation. This might affect the aesthetic of your Christmas tree, but it could also save it from destruction, which definitely sounds like a fair tradeoff. 

Quick Tip

Never use tinsel on your tree if you have cats. Tinsel can get stuck in the intestines and cause serious problems if your cat tries to chew it. 

4. Get a New Cat Tree

One reason cats feel compelled to investigate the Christmas tree is because it's new. To address this, try distracting your cat with a new tree of their own. A feline climbing tree may quench your kitty's desire to scratch, climb, and jump on new territory. Sprinkle a lot of catnip on it to draw their attention and use positive reinforcement whenever they use the correct tree.

If you're not ready to invest in a pricy cat condo, consider building your own cat perches. And for smaller spaces, a small cardboard cat scratcher could have the same distracting effect.

Kittens in a Christmas tree

5. Go Faux

This one could work — or make the problem worse, depending on your cat. For some cats, as soon as a real fir comes through the door, they revert to their wild instincts. It’s likely a combination of the way the tree smells and feels — everything you probably love about real trees! Opting for an artificial Christmas tree could eliminate this temptation for some cats, but it may make others even more interested.

6. Foil Them with Aluminum Foil

6. Foil Them with Aluminum Foil

If your cat is a climber, you can cat-proof your Christmas tree with aluminum foil. Wrap foil around the entire trunk and base of the tree. The sound and feeling of foil turns cats off, so many people find this technique effective. Products like the Christmas Tree Defender are other tools that can keep cats out of the tree by creating a barrier that prevents cats from climbing inside and up.

7. Use Unbreakable Ornaments

Adding unbreakable plastic ornaments to your tree can help avoid any broken glass or trips to the veterinarian. Many plastic ornaments look like glass and — bonus — won't shatter when your cat pulls them off the tree. 

8. Consider a Smaller Tree

cat sitting on chair beside small Christmas tree

Although bigger is usually better, picking a smaller tree could be safer for your cat. Not only is there less tree for your naughty kitty to climb (which might deter them from crawling inside), but it has a shorter distance to fall. This means less risk for injury and easier cleanup.

9. Use Motion-Activated Deterrents

Along with scents, there are other deterrents that can keep your cat out of the Christmas tree. Some of these options include pet-safe electric training mats or motion activated air-burst devices. A vacuum cleaner near the tree could even work if your cat hates the appliance. Although harmless, these tools are best used as a last resort if other techniques don't work.

10. Anchor the Tree

10. Anchor the Tree

It's always wise to anchor your tree to the wall or ceiling. Although this alone won't keep your cat out, it will prevent the tree from falling if it becomes off balance. Having a strong base is also important for stabilization.

11. Cover the Tree Water

Even if your cat does stay out of the tree itself, you’ll want to be careful about the water underneath it. A lot of cats like drinking Christmas tree water, but this can be dangerous. Preservatives and pesticides can leach into the water, plus standing water can breed bacteria or harmful parasites. Make sure your tree water is covered at all times to keep your pets safe.

12. Place It in a Cat-Free Zone

Finally, if all else fails, you can place your Christmas tree in an area of your home where the cats aren’t allowed. This could be a single room or a space you can close off. It could even be outside! You can let the cats in under your watchful eye, but they can’t have access to the area unsupervised, which will prevent any cat vs. Christmas tree disasters.

Enjoy Your Tree and Your Cat This Season

Owning a cat doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your Christmas tree, but it usually means you need to plan ahead. By using these 12 tips, you can successfully keep everyone (including your tree) safe this year and enjoy a very Meowy Christmas. 

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Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree With These 12 Easy Tricks