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How to Keep Cats Out of a Christmas Tree (5 Tricks)

Savannah Stanfield

By Savannah Stanfield

Cat with-a christmas tree in the background

As the holidays roll back around each year, so does the problem of your cats wanting to climb into or eat the Christmas tree. While this problem seems to be very prevalent with kittens, even adult cats let their curiosity get the best of them and may even end up knocking over your tree or ornaments in the process.

If your cat does climb into the Christmas tree, then, by all means, take that adorable picture. But, chasing your cat out of the tree is not something that you want to do for the duration of the holiday season. It’s best to nip this problem in the bud before it leads to damaged or broken ornaments or injured kitties. In this article, we’ll help you come up with effective solutions for how to keep cats away from the Christmas tree.

Why Do Cats Love Christmas Trees?

First things first, understanding why your cat is so attracted to the Christmas tree will help you be able to keep him out of it effectively. Cats are curious by nature, so anything new brought into the house is grounds for exploration, even if it’s something that you put up every year and they’ve seen before.

Another reason why cats are attracted to the Christmas tree is the smell of it. This is mostly true if you have a real tree, as the types of trees used for Christmas trees always have some sort of pleasant smell to them. Or, your cat may just see something from the outside world and want to climb it because that’s what he would do in nature.

cat in a christmas tree
Image Credit: thehrhpaul, Pixabay

Dangers Associated With Decor

Finally, your cat may be attracted to the dangly ornaments and tinsel that you use to decorate the tree. He sees them as playthings that he can bat around and may even knock them off the tree and around the floor. In the case of tinsel, it resembles potential prey like snakes and your cat may even be tempted to chew and eat it, which isn’t the best thing for his health.

Speaking of things to chew and eat, let’s talk about the strings of Christmas lights themselves. If your cat bites into one of those, it could electrocute him. That just creates one more reason for the need to keep the cat away from the tree.

Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Cat Out of a Christmas Tree:

Every cat is unique in its own way, and what works for one cat may not work for another. That’s why we’ve come up with options for keeping cats out of your Christmas tree so that you can find one that works for you.

1. Pet Deterrent Spray

One of the most effective ways to keep your cat out of the Christmas tree is to use a pet deterrent spray. These sprays are made with ingredients that cats don’t like the smell of, or that taste bitter when your cat eats something sprayed with it.

You can always buy a deterrent spray in the pet section of any store, or you can make your own. We like the latter option, as there are ways to make cat deterrent spray with natural ingredients that cats don’t like.

For example, cats hate citrus smells, such as lemons, limes, and oranges. Scientists think that the smell of citrus overwhelms a cat’s sense of smell, so cats tend to stay away from citrus fruits and other things of that nature.

In fact, citrus smells are used in a lot of store-bought cat deterrent sprays, but it’s easy to use them at home as well. All you’ll need to do is add some water to a spray bottle, then add in several drops of citrus essential oil.

Add in enough essential oil so that the smell so the scent sticks but isn’t overpowering for you as well, then spray it directly onto the tree, paying close attention to the base and bottom branches. Not only will this help to keep your cats away, it will also leave even artificial trees with a pleasant smell.

Be aware that these sprays won’t last forever, so you may need to reapply them throughout the holiday season. Besides citrus, you can use apple cider vinegar as well. However, this could attract insects into your home, so use it at your discretion.

water spray bottle
Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay

2. Actual Citrus Fruits

Instead of using pet deterrent spray made with citrus essential oil, you can also opt for the real thing instead. Citrus fruits, particularly oranges, have been used as Christmas decorations for centuries, so why not adorn your tree with oranges for a festive look that also keeps your cat away?

You can even place citrus fruits around the base of the tree, for even more effective cat repellent. And the best part is that you don’t even have to peel the fruits. You can use them whole so that they will last a lot longer than if they were peeled.

A word of caution though, even whole citrus fruits won’t last forever. If you’re someone who likes to decorate for Christmas several weeks in advance, hold off on the oranges until closer to Christmas if you don’t intend on replacing them. The last thing you want is to have to clean up a mess of rotten citrus fruit, which again, could attract unwanted insects into your home as well.

citrus tree
Photo Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

3. Minimize Temptation

If your cat likes to climb the Christmas tree, one way to keep your cat out of the Christmas tree is to place both the tree and the ornaments on it in strategic locations. For example, keep the tree away from furniture or other structures with which your cat could jump into the tree easier.

This plan isn’t foolproof, because some cats will climb the tree regardless of where you put it. But, if your cat has to work harder to get into the tree, he’ll be less tempted to do so. You’ll also want to be sure to place any particularly cat-tempting ornaments toward the center of the tree instead of having them dangle off the branches where your cat can easily reach them.

You can also consider using an artificial tree as well instead of a real one, especially if your cat likes to chew on the branches. Real Christmas trees can hurt cats due to the sharp needles and the sap that they produce. It’s not necessarily good to let your cat eat an artificial Christmas tree, but it’s less dangerous than a real tree and you can still use cat deterrent spray if eating the tree is a problem.

Tactical Tree Trimming 

If you know that your cat likes to climb a certain tree, avoid hanging any delicate or sentimental ornaments on that particular tree. Even if you can’t keep your cat from climbing it, at least you can keep your most precious ornaments from getting knocked off and broken.

It’s also a good idea to hide any electrical cords by either taping them to the floor or using a tree skirt to cover them. This will prevent your cat from playing with and chewing on them, which could lead to injury to your cat.

cat playing with christmas tree decors
Image Credit: Myshun, Pixabay

4. Decorate Early

Putting your tree up a little early may actually prevent your cats from climbing in it throughout the holiday season. How? Putting the tree up without any ornaments or lights on it may still tempt your cat to climb the tree, but chances are he’ll quickly get bored with climbing it and won’t continue to do so.

Once your cat has gotten his thrills and seems no longer interested in it, then you can decorate it with ornaments. You may still have to take other precautions such as spraying a deterrent on the bottom branches to keep your cat from eating them, but at least you won’t have to worry about your cat climbing the tree and breaking things.

Christmas tree with ornaments
Image Credit: bakhrom_media, Pixabay

5. Disguise the Base

Disguising the base of the Christmas tree is a great way to deter your cat from climbing it. There are a few ways to do this, but one way is to cover the bottom part of the trunk with aluminum foil, which cats hate. Even if aluminum foil is ineffective against keeping your cat away from the tree, he won’t be able to climb it as easily.

You can also try a tree collar instead of a tree skirt. Tree collars are designed for disguising the base of the tree anyway, and a lot of them are too cumbersome for your cat to get around them to get to the trunk.

Again, this method may prevent your cat from climbing the tree, but it won’t do much to deter him from chewing on the bottom branches. Cat deterrent sprays are the most effective tool for this purpose.

Final Thoughts

If you have cats, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Christmas tree in your home. It just means that you need to be proactive about keeping your cat out of it. It’s a tall task, but hopefully, you’ll find that one of these suggestions works for you so that you can enjoy the holiday season without worrying about damage to your tree or injury to your cat.


Featured Image Credit: Nadtochiy, Shutterstock

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