How To Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

It’s important that you know how to cat-proof a Christmas tree to ensure that your feline friend doesn’t get ill or injured.

Bridget Reed

Updated December 07, 2022 • Published December 23, 2021

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How To Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

It turns out that humans aren’t the only ones that like to deck the halls and open presents. You might find that your cat also enjoys the cornerstone of holiday decorations: the Christmas tree. It’s essential that you know how to create a cat-safe Christmas tree to ensure that you don't have any unnecessary trips to the emergency vet this holiday season.

From the types of trees you should consider to top decorating dos and don'ts, here's everything you need to know about cat-proofing a Christmas tree.

What are the best Christmas trees for cats?

For starters, it's essential that you purchase the right type of tree. This is the first step that you can take to properly “cat-proof” your Christmas tree. There are some trees that are safer than others.  

Artificial trees

An artificial tree is a good choice because you can never be sure of what additives there might be on a genuine Christmas tree. Real Christmas trees pose a risk that your cat might ingest pine needles, plus, the water that real Christmas trees sit in will eventually sprout bacteria, and this could ultimately lead to a sick cat. 

It's best to play it safe and stick with something artificial—this can help safeguard your cat in case they do chew on it.

However, if you have a cat that really enjoys chewing on things, getting an artificial tree might not be a great option, either. It helps to know what your artificial tree is made of. Christmas trees that are made from PVC, for example, can degrade over time and eventually may start leaking lead.

Small trees

Another option is to have a smaller tree. This may discourage a cat from attempting to perch inside, which can lead to injury for both your pet and family members.

You can even put a smaller tree on a tabletop and anchor it, which may be less enticing to your feline friend.

Alternative trees

Last but not least, you can purchase or create an alternative tree. Create a tree out of materials that won't interest your cat as much, like wood or books. While this isn't as traditional, it could be much safer for your pet—and hey, it may even add a unique design element to your home.

It might take some trial and error to find the best Christmas for a cat, but putting in the work now can save you a headache and a trip to the vet in the future.

How to decorate a Christmas tree with a cat

The days of putting whatever you want wherever you want on your Christmas tree may be over if you've welcomed a kitty into your home. If you're not intentional about it, your feline friend could easily get their paws on something that is either dangerous to them or extremely valuable to you—and no one wants that.

Ditch the tinsel

The first thing you should do is get rid of any tinsel you plan to use to decorate your tree.

While tinsel adds a sparkly flair to any tree, for a cat, tinsel could be extremely dangerous. It has even been referred to as one of the most hazardous decorations for pets. This is because it could potentially damage your pet’s digestive system if ingested.

It's especially appealing to cats because it appears to be similar to a toy. Avoid any string-like decorations for your tree, including garland and popcorn strands. 

Consider choking hazards

Your tree is full of potential choking hazards for your pet—small ornaments, loose light bulbs, tinsel—the list goes on. Take stock of everything that's on the tree and consider whether or not your cat would think it would make a great toy or snack. Ask yourself what your cat’s vices are—do they like to chew on things? Climb things? Or play with anything dangling in their view?

If you think there's potential for danger, save it for a tree in a room that's not accessible to your feline friend.

Place your lights carefully

If your pet is drawn to lights, you're going to want to be careful about where you place them—and this is even more relevant if your cat enjoys chewing things. 

For the chewers, it will be important to either skip the lights or only use them when kitties can be supervised. Some people will also tape or put piping over excess wire so it’s not dangling. Cats who attempt to chew on the cords while the lights are on are at risk for electrical burns and electrocution.

Place ornaments up high

Cat parents need to be strategic about where they place ornaments on the Christmas tree.

For the climbers, you may need to either put your tree in an area of the house they aren’t able to go in or build a little barricade around it. Some people suggest citrus sprays as a deterrent, but if your cat is determined enough, a little citrus is unlikely to do much. 

For the kitties who are into the dangly bits, putting the super enticing (and breakable) ornaments towards the top half of the tree is your safest bet. Fewer ornaments should be towards the bottom fourth of the tree, and those that are down there should not be breakable. 

If your cat manages to ingest an ornament, talk to a vet immediately. The best course of action will differ based on the material (glass, string, plastic) ingested.

Cover the water bowl

Ensure that you cover the tree’s water bowl. It’s a breeding ground for bacteria, which could ultimately harm your cat if they decide to take a sip of it.

Wrap it in foil

Cats tend not to be fond of the sound that aluminum foil will make. If you wrap your tree in foil, you might find that your feline friend is deterred from climbing or scaling it. Of course, this might not be the most sightly of solutions—but it could help. 

Use a tree gate or fencing

Lastly, you could use either a tree gate or fencing. This will physically restrict the tree from your cat. However, this might not be the most practical suggestion for people who have cats that are able to jump from a nearby piece of furniture. 

Meowy and bright

The good news is that if your cat does get a hold of your Christmas tree, Pawp’s Vet Pros are here to help. Pawp offers virtual telehealth appointments so you can get the answers you need for your pet ASAP.

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