Cats and Christmas Trees How to Keep Both Safe

Christmas tree wtih Gracey

Years ago we had live Christmas trees.  When Hazel came to live with us, we decided after the tree came tumbling down that perhaps an artificial tree might be a better solution.  Not only for our ornamnets’ sake but to keep her safe too.  Pine needles are quite sharp  and might even cause internal injuries if ingested and they are potentially toxic to cats. The tree water  is also dangerous for cats to drink because it is full of pine resin and possibly flame retardant chemicals.  You can wrap aluminum foil around the  tree trunk to keep your cat from scratching or climbing and out of the water but we decided it was too stressful worrying about Hazel and opted for an artificial tree.

Switching to an artificial tree eliminated the tree water but there are still  other dangers lurking for your cat.  Your cat may still try to climb the artificial tree, chew on the light cords, and possibly step on broken ornaments. And your cat might decide to chew on the branches of your artificial tree too.

What is a cat parent to do when it comes to the Christmas tree?

This will be Annie and Eddie’s first Christmas. After observing them the last few months, Paul and I decided not to have a tree this year.  We have a smaller tree that we have put up in the past with cat friendly ornaments, but we think a tree with ornaments will be too tempting for the kittens, Annie in particular. We didn’t have a problem with Gracey and the Christmas tree but with Annie we decided it was not worth the risk.  If you decide to go ahead and trim a tree, here are a few tips to help you make your Christmas tree safe for your cat.

Opt for a smaller tree

You might consider putting up a smaller tree so that your cat doesn’t feel inclined to climb up inside the tree and if the tree should get knocked down, the damage would be less from a 3 foot tree than a 7 foot tree.

Place the tree in the corner

Placing the tree in the corner guards at least two sides of the tree.  Make sure the tree is away from other furniture that can be used as a spring board for leaping into the tree.  I know some folks who have actually tethered their tree to the wall and ceiling making sure the tree is stable and not able to be knocked over by a rambunctious feline.

Citrus deodorizers and orange peels

Cat’s don’t like the smell of citrus.  I have not tried this but have read that placing a citrus air freshener at the base of the tree and putting orange peels on the branches might make the entire tree less interesting for your cat.   This is also a recommendation for keeping cats out of your flower beds by the way.  Placing orange peels in your garden might keep cats out of your plants.

Choose cat friendly ornaments

Shiny bright Christmas tree ornaments are beautiful but they are just too tempting to your cat.  They really can’t help themselves.  If you place shiny dangling ornaments on your tree’s lower branches, I am not sure we can blame the cat if they get swatted and broken.  Adorn the lower part of your tree with unbreakable  ornaments.  There are many options to choose from and your tree can be quite lovely and safe for your cat too.

Just say no to tinsel.

Tinsel is just too sparkly and enticing for your cat.  Tinsel and icicles if ingested by your cat can cause serious problems possibly requiring  emergency surgery.  Just forget the tinsel.

Try a bitter apple spray on  electrical cords.

If your cat decides to chew on electric cords, you might try using a non-toxic bitter apple spray. This is the same type of product that is used to discourage kids from sucking their thumb or biting their nails.  You can find Bitter Apple Spray at most pet supply stores.

I hope you found these tips useful and if you have other tips, please feel free to share them too.  Will you be putting up a tree this year?

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  1. Retta Shanahan says

    I’ve always had a big tree. I clear the room of anything breakable and set up the tree (undecorated) a few days ahead of time. that way, they can get their curiosity satisfied. It seems to lose it’s allure after a couple of days of being allowed! I only use unbreakable ornaments, though, just in case! LOL!

  2. Melissa White says

    We’re trying a big tree this year–the first time in several years. Pixie (12 years old) and Serrawac (5) were all right with our artificial tree, but then we adopted 2 kittens and my father’s rat terrier. The past few years we’ve had a “tabletop” tree with lights but very few ornaments and a “SST” canister nearby.

  3. Thanks for sharing this post, is soo helpful. I had no idea that real trees were toxic, my god, I always buy real ones, but for the sake of my beloved cat I will buy plastic ones from now on. Thanks a million!!! <3

  4. Those are great tips. My cat Tubby is sort of like Glogirly’s Waffles. Lots of energy. I have a artifical one. I never knew till this year that real trees where toxic. Thanks for sharing this post.
    Sue B

  5. Those are terrific suggestions! Last year was Waffles’ first Christmas so we opted for no tree as well. I’m still on the fence for this year. I think he may still be too wild and crazy. If I do, I’ll definitely try the orange trick!

  6. katboxjanitor says

    Some pets LIKE the taste of bitter apple and I have found something that deters orally fixated dogs (like Labs!!) from chomping on things.
    It is called “Bitter End” – awesome stuff and I have had the same bottle for 4+ years and I am only 1/4 thru the bottle, but the new toothmarks from my service dog trainees have stopped!

  7. Sometimes, Cats Herd You says

    Great post. Over the years, the peeps have collected lots and lots of tiny plush ornaments and other nonbreakable novelty ornaments that are slowly taking over the tree. As long as Pierre doesn’t eat the artificial tree (you should see the face he makes when he tastes bitter apple!), we aren’t very destructive, thankfully.

    Actually, that’s a tip you didn’t talk about… artificial vs. natural tree. The peeps gave up their natural tree for us because the natural one was a lot harder to knock down, and there was no danger of us drinking water with chemicals in it from the tree stand.