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How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

There’s nothing quite as festive and lovely than cozying up in front of the Christmas tree with your fur friend on your lap. That is, until your frisky feline decides to investigate the colorful and shiny new toy that’s been added to their home and LEAPS into those firs.

Before you know it, there’s one upturned tree, one freaked out owner and one skittish cat. Sound familiar?

Cats and Christmas trees just don’t mix, right?! We learned the hard way after Yoda acted out the scenario above…

But if you’ve got a playful cat at home, don’t despair. You can still get festive and even have a tree – you just need our top 10 tips for cat-proofing your Christmas tree to succeed!  

These easy steps will help keep your lovely tree away from your cat’s paws, and even give you some fresh new ideas for a cat-proof Christmas centrepiece!

Fluffy Kitty | The Best for Your Beast

In this article: 

  • Why Do Cats like to Play on a Christmas Tree?
  • 10 Ways to Cat-Proof a Christmas Tree
  • Christmas Tree for Cats We Love!
  • Final Thoughts: How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Fluffy Kitty | The Best for Your Beast

Why Do Cats like to Play on a Christmas Tree?

There is just nothing happier than a cat with a new toy. Your tree with all its bat-able ornaments could be, in your kitty’s eyes anyway, the best Christmas gift of all. She will remove the ornaments, bite at the lights, and she will climb to the very top.

There, she will declare herself to be an angel in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. If you’re not interested in re-installing and re-decorating the tree daily, you will need to take some precautions.

How to Cat Proof a Christmas Tree | Fluffy Kitty

10 Ways to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

Opting for a real tree? Here are a few of the best ways we know to preserve your live tree and keep your kitty safe over the holidays.

1. Lay Down Aluminum Foil

Any time you have a plant that you don’t want your kitty digging in or climbing upon, put down a sturdy layer of aluminum foil. This fix also applies to Christmas trees. Just wrap the stand and the trunk.

Cats dislike the feel of the foil under their paws and will avoid it. It isn’t 100% fool-proof as some cats skip the trunk entirely, so you’ll need to combine other methods in order to truly cat-proof your Christmas tree.

2. Cat-Proof Dangerous Ornaments

The younger your cat is, the more prudent it will be to avoid glass ornaments of any kind. They WILL be removed from the tree and pressed into service as balls for batting.

Glass ornaments are particularly dangerous for cats because a glass ball sufficiently batted will eventually break. The shards are rarely eaten, but they can and will make for tattered paws and mouths. Use wood, plastic, or yarn ornaments when possible! 🙂

3. Avoid Using Wire Ornament Hangers

Small wire doo-hickeys like the stock ornament hangers also present a big danger for your feline friends. Wires can be swallowed and perforate tender inner parts. This can cause deadly results. Please take the time to affix your tree ornaments with something less sinister. Buy a roll of twine ribbon or cord to tie them on instead.

4. Avoid Using Tinsel

Your cat will be thrilled with those silvery strands of tinsel. They quiver in response to the slightest wave of a paw and are second only to live birds in terms of temptation.

Know that when swallowed, those pseudo icicles can create havoc, even death, when they arrive in your kitty’s gut. In order to cat-proof your Christmas tree, you should resist the temptation to hang this stuff on your tree if your cat is a curious chewer.

5. Cat-Proof Christmas Lights with Electrical Tape

Electric lights – especially the blinking ones – are just as difficult to resist for cats as tinsel and even more dangerous. Use heavy-duty tape to secure the electrical plug to the wall so that kitty won’t use the cord to pull the tree down.

how to cat-proof your Christmas tree | Fluffy Kitty

Also, secure any loose-hanging lights. You can tape them to the floor, or wrap them closer to the Christmas tree branches. Doing so will help cat-proof your Christmas tree.

6. Keep a Penny Jar Nearby

Put a few pennies in an empty drink can and keep it handy. Every time your cat gets close to the lights or the Christmas tree, shake it!

It’s a distasteful noise and a handy helper when you are trying to cat-proof your Christmas tree. (Or discourage any other bad habit.) The penny-in-a-can method is more effective (and safe) than a water sprayer because of the lights.

7. Squirt Lemon Around the Christmas Trunk

Cats do not like citric or acidic smells. Squirting lemon (or vinegar) around the base of the tree will discourage them from exploring further. It is also an effective remedy for protecting your plants from your cat.

8. Keep Toys & Cat Trees Nearby (But Not Next To)

Keeping your cat’s toys or scratching post nearby might seem counter-intuitive. After all, you want your cat to stay out of the same room as the Christmas tree. But just like with protecting your furniture, you need to offer an alternative; an outlet where your cat CAN play and scratch without getting into trouble.

In order to cat-proof a Christmas tree, consider placing cat-approved toys and cat trees nearby (but not next to) the tree. That way if your cat has the urge to climb up something, s/he will have the appropriate cat climbing tree in sight.

9. Ensure Adequate Play/Exercise Time

Bored cats are troublesome cats. If your cat is bored, it will search for ways to wreak havoc and gain attention. And what better way to gain your attention by pulling the Christmas tree down?

A healthy, happy cat might be curious about the Christmas tree, that’s certain. However, an active cat who has had lots of play time will be less likely to see the Christmas tree as an outlet to play. Basically, make sure you are providing your feline with enough playtime and exercise, so s/he will be too tired to be naughty.

how to cat-proof your Christmas tree/ Fluffy Kitty

The same rule applies if you lose sleep due to an overactive cat at night. Make sure to tire your kitty out during the day and before bedtime if you wish to get some more shuteye!

10. Distract Your Cat Away from the Tree (Whenever You Can)

If your home is like most, the Christmas tree is in the main room where everyone likes to relax. If you’re there, it’s likely your cat will be somewhere about too. Luckily, if you’re at home to observe your cat, you can distract him/her away from the Christmas tree each time your cat wanders to it.

Firstly, you can do this by offering to play with your cat, but away from the tree. Show your cat there’s nothing exciting about the Christmas tree. In order to do that, create a space (perhaps on the other side of the room) where your cat can go and play.

Secondly, whenever your cat’s curiosity goes back to the tree, call your cat over to play and distract him.

Remember to only use the penny jar in case your cat is being bad (already climbing the tree or swatting at ornaments). Reward good behavior with playtime + treats and bad behavior with “No” and the penny jar (if necessary).

Christmas Tree for Cats We Love!

If a full sized real tree sounds like too much hassle, we’ve got you. Here are some cat-proof Christmas tree options that are super safe but still super festive!

  • Wooden trees A wooden tree is a great alternative to troublesome fir. They’re less likely to be climbed and are a pet-safe material.  
  • Encased tree – Why not encase your tree in a giant lantern? Not only will those glowly lights look super festive but it also provides real peace of mind that your kitty isn’t getting into anything they shouldn’t!
  • Wall Hung Tree – Hung in the right place, this could be safe from swiping paws!
  • Upside Down Tree – Another crafty option for keeping paws off. Might not suit some spaces, but if you have a room that suits a center feature it could be purrfect. 
  • Extra Tall Tree – These half furred trees are a great option for keeping ornaments away from your fur-friend. 
  • Scratching Post Tree – Of course you could just give in and have a scratching post/tree instead…!
  • Bauble Ceiling Wreath –  If you can feel a Christmas project coming on, this one’s for you! Get creative with a ceiling wreath to create a spectacular centerpiece for your Christmas day. 

Final Thoughts: How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

With these tips, you can make your Christmas tree less dangerous and tempting for your cat. Or choose an option that alleviates all the stress and worry of watching over the tree constantly!

To be sure your cat has a super special and safe Christmas, check out our other festive articles:

Merry Pawsmas all!

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10 Ways to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree | Fluffy Kitty