How to Keep Cats Out of the Christmas Tree: 9 Easy Tricks

Published November 22, 2021
woman holding cat by Christmas tree

Many cat owners have had the unfortunate experience of watching their beautifully trimmed Christmas tree come toppling down at the hands (or paws, rather) of a feline. But it's not just your tree that's at risk of harm. Your climbing cat could also sustain injuries in the process. Implement these easy tricks to help keep your cats out of the Christmas tree this holiday 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 tend to 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 likely wear off, so you'll have to reapply it every so often.

3. Go Faux

As soon as a real fir comes through the door, many cats 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! But opting for an artificial Christmas tree could eliminate this temptation for some cats. It may also be safer for your pets, given the safety hazard real trees pose.

4. Get Your Cat Their Own 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 prepared to invest in a pricy cat condo, consider building your own. And for smaller spaces, a small cardboard cat scratcher could have the same distracting effect.

5. 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 them into the tree. Avoid placing decorations near the ends of the branches or close to the bottom to remove the temptation. This may affect the aesthetic of your Christmas tree, but it could also save it from destruction.

6. Foil Them with Aluminum Foil

If your cat is a climber, you can keep them away with aluminum foil. Simply wrap foil around the entire trunk and base of the tree. Cats are turned off by the sound and feeling of foil, 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. Anchors Aweigh

It's 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.

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 Deterrents

In addition to scents, there are other deterrents that can keep cats away from the Christmas tree. Some of these options include pet-safe electric training mats, motion detection activated air-burst devices, or prickle mats. 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.

How to Keep Cats Out of Christmas Trees

Owning a cat doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your Christmas tree. By using these nine tips, you can successfully keep everyone (including your tree) safe this year.

How to Keep Cats Out of the Christmas Tree: 9 Easy Tricks