How To Keep a Cat Out of a Christmas Tree
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… until your Christmas tree is scaled by your mischievous cat, plunging it toward the ground and a cascade of colourful baubles scatter around the room! Sound familiar? The best way to keep your cat out of your Christmas tree is by giving them lots of alternative outlets for exploration and fun so they’re not so tempted to use your tree as their climbing pole / toy / fave snack! That way, you won’t have to tell them off or use scent based deterrents which can be unsettling or harmful to your cat.
Are real Christmas trees safe for cats?
As beautiful as real Christmas trees look, they can present some hazards for our cats:
The natural oils of pine, spruce and fir trees can be mildly toxic to cats if consumed, causing irritation to their mouth and stomach. Your cat can end up consuming these oils in a few ways – they might nibble on a branch, brush past the tree and then lick the sap from their fur, eat or brush past fallen pine needles, or they could drink from the water beneath the tree which has become infused with tree sap. If you’re going to have a real tree it’s a good idea to limit your cat’s access to the water at the bottom – e.g. by wrapping aluminium foil over the top, and give your kitty some cat-safe greenery (e.g. cat grass) to nibble on instead.
On the topic of tree water, it’s also really important to avoid using any type of fertiliser or preservative in the water you provide for your tree, as many of them are very toxic to cats.
Real trees also present a greater hazard in terms of their sheer weight, and the fact that they may not come with a robust stand like an artificial tree. Domestic cats crave opportunities to explore 3D space, so many will look at a Christmas tree as the perfect opportunity to explore and get up high! We can try and minimise this behaviour, but fundamentally we need to make sure that if our kitty does go for an adventure in the Christmas tree, it won’t topple over and hurt them.
Are artificial trees better for cats?
Artificial trees are better for cats in that they allow us to make sure that our cats aren’t exposed to any of the toxic oils that are common in natural trees. However, it’s important to make sure that they’re safely secured so they can’t topple over. Additionally, some artificial trees will come pre-adorned with lights and decorations that cats can get tangled in if they attempt to climb the tree. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to locate the tree in a room of the house where you can close the door when you go out – so your cat can’t go on any unsupervised adventures in the tree.
Where should I put my Christmas tree?
Usually during the festive season, the Christmas tree takes pride of place in our homes but if want to keep it safe from little paws, you might want to consider putting it in a room where your cat doesn’t spend much time. Alternatively, if you have a cat-free location, then consider this a prime spot!
Who are we kidding, right? Chances are your cat rules the roost and goes into every room they want too so, if your Christmas tree is in a room they frequent, then avoid putting it next to chairs and tables, as they can use these to help them scale the higher branches.
How should I secure my Christmas tree?
It is important that your Christmas tree is secure to stop it toppling over if your cat climbs it. A falling tree can be a potential hazard to your cat. If you have a real tree, make sure you choose a stand for your tree that’s appropriate for the tree’s height and weight, and ideally secure the tree at the top via a hook and tether to the wall behind so that it is supported at either end.
For artificial trees, as well as tethering the top as mentioned before, you can tape the base stand to the floor, add a weight for extra security or invest in a heavier base.
How do I stop my cat climbing my Christmas tree?
You can stop your cat climbing your Christmas tree by introducing it to them gradually. Cats love to explore vertically so its only natural that they’ll view your tree as a fun, new climbing toy! We can defuse some of that excitement by setting the tree up in stages. If you have an artificial tree, try setting up the lower section first and if your cat gets tempted to explore, draw their attention away from it and offer a more fun alternative like their fave toy or some praise.
The holiday season is an exciting time but before you go crazy with the tree decorations, leave the tree bare for a few days and continue to work on keeping your cat on the ground.
Another helpful way to minimise Christmas tree mayhem is to consider why our cats are attracted to the tree, and to give them safe alternative outlets for those instincts instead!
For example, if your cat insists that climbing the Christmas tree is top of their festive wish list, consider providing them with a cat tree nearby, ideally incorporating some nice vertical scratching areas, so they can enjoy the fun of climbing and the high vantage point, without resorting to tree-climbing mischief.
If they’re an obsessive Christmas tree nibbler, you can provide cat grass in pots around the base of the tree, so that they have something else to graze on that’s safe to eat!
And if your cat is a determined Christmas-tree-water drinker, you can use some foil to cover the water reservoir, and then provide your cat with a water bowl or fountain nearby.
As for decorations, who can blame our cats for being obsessed with pawing at the exciting shiny baubles we hang in the tree – they are the ultimate cat toys! To lure your cat away from demolishing your lovingly decorated tree, consider giving them some decorations of their own to play with, for instance attaching some shatterproof cat-safe baubles to their cat tree, the banisters or around their scratching post. Then leave the bottom foot of the tree decoration-free so that the most accessible decorations for your cat are the ones you want them to play with.
Can I use a deterrent to stop my cat climbing my tree?
The best deterrent is to train your cat not to play with the Christmas tree. Some popular advice recommends using citrus scents (like lemon or orange peels), oils or sprays around the tree but it’s important to note that lemons and other citrus fruits can harm your feline friend. Citrus fruits contain toxic compounds that are poisonous to most domestic pets and not to mention, the strong smell (to your cat’s delicate nose) can cause them upset and distress.
How should I decorate my Christmas tree?
The best way to decorate your Christmas tree is to use cat-friendly ornaments. You may want to avoid Christmas tree decorations that are colourful and eye-catching, and skip the ones that look like your cat’s toys!
Keep sentimental ornaments out of reach
Although an evenly decorated tree is preferred by most, you may want to focus more of your attention to areas that your cat cannot paw. If you have any sentimental ornaments, put these higher up the tree, out of your cat’s reach.
Tie your decorations on to your tree
There’s nothing more tempting than a toy your kitty can paw and bat so to stop them going flying, secure them on the tree branches. You can use string or with some artificial trees, you can bend the tip of the branch back on itself to add an extra layer of security. In the interest of safety, avoid using metal or hook attachments where you can.
Opt for shatter-proof baubles
Shatter-proof baubles are a great for ensuring your cat’s safety. If those pesky little paws manage to knock a bauble off, a shatter-proof bauble ensures that it won’t shatter into lots of sharp pieces, posing potential danger for you or your cat.
This festive staple can present a hazard to our cats, who often can’t resist nibbling on it! Not only can these little plastic strands be ingested (causing tummy problems) but they can get stuck in your cat’s mouth or throat. Consider natural alternatives like paper or wood.
When adorning your Christmas tree with fairy lights, pay careful attention to the placement of the lights, bring the string close into the centre of the tree. This should stop your cat being tempted to nibble the lights or the cables. We all know the saying about cats and their curiosity, so where you can, cover the wire with a cord protector and unplug your lights if you’re leaving your cat and your tree unattended.
Natural foliage, edible decorations like chocolate and candles can be a gorgeous addition to a tree but to minimise risk, consider a faux alternative instead. Some plants and flowers are toxic to cats as is chocolate, and candles present a fire or burn hazard.
Are Christmas decorations safe for cats?
Christmas decorations are safe for cats but it depends largely on how they are used. Look for cat-friendly decorations and ornaments that your cat can’t get tangled in, and that won’t harm your kitty if they’re broken, damaged, bitten or ingested by them.
How to keep a cat away from a Christmas garland?
The best way to keep your cat away from your Christmas garland is to do some training prior to hanging it up. Cats are curious and anything new must be investigated! Hanging ‘toys’ are a fave amongst cats, so start by introducing the garland to your cat before you hang it up. This way they can explore it before its hanging and tempting them to come paw it! You may also want to consider hanging garlands from places your cat cannot reach to remove temptation. If your cat still thinks it’s a plaything when its up, try and encourage them to focus their attention elsewhere, like some of their own hanging toys, or a wand toy and reward them from not playing with the garland.
How to keep a cat away from Christmas stockings?
To best way to keep your cat away from Christmas stockings, is to put the stockings out of reach of your cat or in a room where they have limited access. If this isn’t possible, it is helpful to teach them to ignore the stockings, or to focus their play attention to something more appropriate. You can introduce the stockings to your cat before you hang them up and defuse some of the excitement. When your stockings are in situ, encourage your cat to play with their own toys. If you successfully navigate your cat’s attention away from the stocking, reward your cat. It is important to make the distraction much more fun than playing with the stocking!
How to keep a cat away from Christmas presents?
The best way to keep presents safe is to keep them out of reach of your cat or in a room where they have no access. If you cannot do this, then think of ways you can satiate your cat’s desire to explore and play without unwrapping your presents. Ribbons, paper and boxes are all things cats love to play with, so presents are super tempting for them. If you cannot keep them out of your cat’s reach, provide your cat with some ‘presents’ of their own. If you see your cat going near your presents, try to lure them away with their fave toy or treat. As cats learn more through positive reinforcement, praising them for the behaviour you want, makes them more likely to repeat it.
Do orange peels keep cats away from Christmas trees?
Orange peels and other citrus peels are often sited as a good deterrent for cats as they aren’t fans of citrus scents. However, it is important to remember how sensitive cat’s smell is. Not only can these scents be unpleasant to cats, they can make your cat feel uneasy and uncomfortable at home. Citrus fruits also contain toxic compounds that are poisonous to most domestic pets, so it’s best to avoid the orange peel, and adopt a more training-focused deterrent method.
Does apple cider vinegar keep cats off a Christmas tree?
The scent of apple cider vinegar can act as a deterrent when it comes to keeping your cat off of your Christmas tree. However, bare in mind that your kitty has a very delicate nose and unfamiliar or unpleasant smells can cause your cat to become unsettled at home. The most effective way to keep your cat off of the tree is by using training.
Does cinnamon keep cats away from Christmas tree?
The scent of cinnamon in unpleasant to your cat so this may act as a deterrent, when it comes to keeping your cat off of your Christmas tree. However, it is important to remember that cats use their sense of smell to help them feel more secure in their environment, meaning foreign smells can make them feel out of sorts at home. The most effective way to keep your cat off of the tree is by using training.
Do pinecones stop cats climbing trees?
A popular deterrent method to stop cats tree climbing is to cover pinecones in a scent they don’t like, such as apple cider vinegar, cinnamon or citrus. Although these methods can prevent tree climbing, they may cause your cat to feel uncomfortable at home. Most of the scents that are considered unpleasant or unfamiliar to cats are considered so because they warn your cat of danger. Adding these scents to your cat’s usual safe and secure home environment, can cause them to be unsettled and uncomfortable. A more training-focused deterrent method is preferred to keep your cat happy and your tree safe.
How do I keep my cat away from my fake Christmas tree?
You can keep your cat away from your fake Christmas tree by introducing it to them gradually. Cats love to explore vertically so its only natural that they’ll view your tree as a fun, new climbing toy! The benefit of an artificial tree is that you can set it up in sections and diffuse some of your cat’s excitement. Starting with the lowest section, observe your cat’s behaviour and if they are tempted to explore the tree, draw their attention away from it and offer a more fun alternative, like their fave toy or some praise. Over time, they should lose interest in the tree.
Understanding why your cat wants to engage with the tree is super helpful. Give them safe alternative outlets for those play and climbing instincts instead. For example, if your cat insists that climbing the Christmas tree is top of their festive wish list, consider providing them with their own cat tree nearby, ideally incorporating some nice vertical scratching areas, so they can enjoy the fun of climbing and the high vantage point, without resorting to tree-climbing mischief.