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How To Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

It’s important that you properly cat-proof your Christmas tree to ensure that your feline doesn’t cause any trouble. Discover how here.

Bridget Reed

Updated December 23, 2021 • Published December 23, 2021

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How To Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

It turns out 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 do not have any unnecessary trips to the emergency vet this holiday season.

However, in the case that your feline friend accidentally does interact with the Christmas tree, it is important to know what you can do to help them. The team at Pawp knows how important it is to create a home that supports your pet’s health and wellbeing. That’s why today, you are going to discover more about how you can cat-proof your Christmas tree.

To begin, you will learn more about what type of trees you should consider using in your home. Then, you will learn more about how you can decorate your tree. After that, you will read more about how you can keep your cat away from the tree.

Continue reading to find out how you can truly cat-proof your Christmas tree to ensure a safe and happy holiday season for all members of your family. 

What type of tree should I buy?

For starters, it is 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. It is essential that you are cognizant of what accidentally getting their paws on a Christmas tree can mean for your cat. 

Artificial trees

An artificial tree is an ideal choice because you can never be sure of what additives there might be on a genuine Christmas tree. Therefore, it is best to play it safe and stick with something artificial. 

This will safeguard your pet in case they do chew on it. In addition, the water that your tree sits in will eventually sprout bacteria, and this could ultimately lead to a sick cat. 

However, for a cat that enjoys chewing on things, getting simply an artificial tree might not be enough. You might have to opt for something different. In addition, this is a wise decision because you do not want your pet ingesting pine needles from the Christmas tree. 

It is essential that you know the makeup of your artificial tree. Christmas trees that are made from PVC will degrade over time. After about nine years, your tree may start leaking lead.

Small trees

Another option is to simply have a smaller tree. This could discourage your pet from attempting to perch inside, which could ultimately lead to problems.

In addition, you can even put a smaller tree on a tabletop and anchor it, which could prove helpful in a situation where your pet enjoys playing with the tree. 

Alternative trees

Last but not least, you can purchase or create an alternative tree. This means that you can create a tree out of different materials such as wood or books. While this is far from traditional, it definitely is safer for your pet and could be a chic addition to your home. 

It’s definitely something to think about if you have tried an artificial or small tree in the past and it proved too tempting for your kitty. 

How can I decorate my tree?

Next, it is essential that you decorate your Christmas tree correctly to ensure that you do not have to take your cat to the emergency vet this holiday. Decorating your Christmas tree correctly is a helpful way to reduce the likelihood that your pet — or home — will experience damage due to a mischievous kitty.

Continue reading to learn more about how you can decorate your Christmas tree this year to make it cat-proof. 

Ditch the tinsel

The first thing that you need to do is get rid of any tinsel you might have used in the past to decorate your tree.

For humans, tinsel is a sparkly decoration that can add a bit of flair to a tree. For a cat, tinsel could be an extremely dangerous item. 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. In addition, it is appealing to cats because it appears to be similar to a toy. Therefore, you should avoid other string adornments for your tree as well, such as a garland or even a popcorn strand. 

Consider choking hazards

The next thing that you should do is to take into account that your tree is full of potential choking hazards for your pet. This could include small ornaments or even tinsel. Therefore, if you have anything that isn’t entirely safe for your pet, then you should ditch it. It’s the best thing that you can do for your pet. 

Place your lights carefully

According to Pawp veterinarian Dr. Jenna Olsen, “When attempting to cat-proof your tree, you will have to figure out what your cat’s vices are — do they like to chew on things? Climb things? Or play with anything dangling in their view?”

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

Dr. Olsen says, “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

Next, you should be strategic about where you are placing the ornaments on your Christmas tree. You should also take into consideration your cat’s habits — for instance, if they enjoy climbing. According to Dr. Olsen, you should take extra care if your cat is a climber. 

“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,” she says. “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 1/4 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 as recommendations will differ based on the material (glass, string, plastic) ingested.” 

How can I keep my cat away from my tree?

You also might need some tips on keeping your pet away from your tree all together. The vets at Pawp know that sometimes, keeping your cat away from your tree can be tricky — so here is what you need to know about how to successfully achieve this. 

Wait to decorate

First, you can wait to decorate your tree until there are only a few days until the holiday. This will ensure that there is less time for your pet to potentially injure themselves (or any of your favorite holiday ornaments). 

Cover the water bowl

Next, you want to ensure that you cover the tree’s water bowl. This is because it’s a breeding ground for bacteria, which could ultimately harm your cat if they decide to take a sip of it. Therefore, always be sure that the water bowl is inaccessible to your cat. 

Wrap it in foil

Cats tend not to be fond of the sound that aluminum foil will make. Therefore, 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 suggestions — 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. 

Merry and bright

The good news is that if your cat still does get a hold of your Christmas tree, Pawp’s trained veterinarians are around to help. Whenever you need help and wherever you need it, Pawp offers virtual telehealth appointments so your pet can get the medical attention they require promptly.


5 Ways to Kitty Proof Your Christmas Tree | Community Care College  

Beware Holiday Hazards | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine 

How to pet-proof your home for the holidays | CU Denver

Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday | NC State Veterinary Medicine 

Lead Exposures in US Children, 2008: Implications for Prevention | NCBI

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