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Why Do Cats Love Christmas Trees So Much? 3 Reasons for This Behavior

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat Christmas tree ornaments

During the festive season, it’s time for decorations and lights to go up in your home, and the main attraction is the Christmas tree. You are not the only cat owner who may have noticed the strange attraction your cat has for a Christmas tree. Cats love plants and trees as it is, so adding twinkling lights and ornaments is enough to excite any cat!

As irresistible as Christmas trees can be for cats, it’s important to know that they can be potentially dangerous for cats to play in, so it’s a good idea to try and keep your cat out of them as much as possible.

In this article, we look at three reasons that cats love Christmas trees so much and how to keep your cats away from them. Let’s get started!

The 3 Main Reasons Cats Love Christmas Trees So Much

1. Novelty

Anytime you bring something new into your home, especially something as large, fragrant, and climbable as a Christmas tree, your cat is bound to notice. Since cats have such a curious nature, they’ll want to explore this new addition. Christmas trees have interesting textures, needles, and bark to scratch on, as well as outdoor fragrances that are irresistible to inquisitive cats.

tabby cat plays by christmas tree and lights
Image credit: dezy, Shutterstock

2. Climbing

Cats love to climb, almost more than anything else, and in the wild, they would climb on mostly tall, leafy trees. A Christmas tree, real or fake, is the perfect cat tree for your feline, giving them a high vantage point to observe what’s going on in your home. Christmas trees have plenty of branches to perch on and needles to hide in, giving them a perfect cat condo with everything that they need, and they’ll gladly ditch their old cat tree in favor of the new addition.

3. Toys!

Christmas trees are full of decorations, typically shiny ones, and these can be irresistible to many cats. Shiny balls reflecting the lights on the tree can act like a laser pointer for your cat and send them into a frenzy of play. The same goes for tinsel, giving the tree the illusion of being filled with small prey that your cat can hunt down and pounce on.

Maine coon cat with green eyes sitting at little christmas tree with lights
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

Dangers to Be Aware Of

While your cat may enjoy climbing and exploring your Christmas tree and it’s certainly fun to watch them do so, it’s probably better to keep them away from it. This is because there are small objects that your cat could swallow, and these could cause a blockage in their digestive tract. Tinsel is the biggest danger, as the small bits of plastic can easily cause a bowel obstruction, but the same goes for ribbons or bows that your cat can tear and potentially swallow.

Christmas lights are dangerous too. While it’s unlikely, your cat may chew in the electrical cords and possibly be electrocuted. The bulbs are often made from glass or hard plastic that can potentially injure your cat, and your cat may even get tangled in the long cord. Also, fake Christmas trees pose an additional choking hazard from the plastic needles, while real trees may potentially be toxic. Most of us use small fir trees for Christmas trees, and the leaves contain an oil that can cause mouth or stomach irritation. Lastly, these sharp needles are also dangerous when swallowed because they can cause an obstruction in your cat’s throat.

Cat Fir Christmas Pine Tree
Image Credit: Jumpstory

How to Make Sure Your Cat Is Safe

All cat owners know how hard it can be to keep a cat from something as exciting as a Christmas tree, so there are a few precautions that you need to take to keep your cat safe. During the time that your tree is up, try to stick to the following precautions:

  • Avoid using tinsel, as it’s simply not worth the risk.
  • Artificial trees are less fragrant and thus less attractive to cats.
  • Spray the needles with citrus or apple bitter or a cat deterrent.
  • Use a cat training mat, like the ScatMat, under the tree, or wrap tinfoil around the trunk to deter climbing.
  • Keep ornaments closer to the top of the tree.
  • Remove any potential launching pads near the tree, such as chairs or sofas.
  • Make sure the tree is super steady, so if your cat does climb it, it’s less likely to fall.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see why Christmas trees may be irresistible to cats: the tinsel, bark, scent, lights, dangling ornaments, and the chance of climbing a colorful perch are all simply too exciting for most cats. These ornaments and lights can be potentially dangerous for your cat, though, so be sure to make your tree as inaccessible as possible to avoid any injury to your feline friend.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

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