How to Keep Cats Out of Your Christmas Tree

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Christmas trees are a dangerous temptation for cats, but a few simple precautions can keep your kitty from making a holiday mess.

How to Keep Your Cat Away From the Christmas Tree

There’s nothing quite like cozying up on the couch with a glass of egg nog under the glowing lights of the Christmas tree. But where you see a cherished holiday decoration, your cat sees a vibrant playground, a place to climb with shiny, dangly things to claw at, bark to scratch and exciting new smells to explore. It can be a dangerous combination for your home and your cat.

The following tips will help keep your feline friends out of the Christmas tree. You also may want to consider other precautions like securing the tree to the wall or hanging glass ornaments out of the cat’s reach.

Guard the Base

A pet fence or gate is a good way to keep your cat from scratching at the base of the tree or playing with presents underneath it. A folding gate, like this one from PETMAKER on Amazon with 3,600 reviews and a 4.3-star rating, is a good option because you can adjust it to fit your tree and the natural wood finish doesn’t offset your holiday look.

Aluminum foil wrapped around the base of the tree trunk helps too. Most cats hate aluminum foil because of the noise it makes and how it feels underneath their paws, so they’re less inclined to climb and scratch.

Smells to Keep the Cat Away

Another way to prevent cats from turning the Christmas tree into an amusement park is to target their sense of smell. You can easily whip up a DIY cat repellent by putting some orange or lemon rinds in a cloth sack. Cats don’t typically like citrus smells, so just put the sack near the base or even hide it in the tree somewhere. .

If this doesn’t deter the cats, spray the tree with a mist made of a water and a few drops of citrus essential oils like citronella, orange or lemongrass added to a squirt bottle filled with water.

Move or Remove Decorations That Attract Cats

Keep the lower branches of the tree free of lights, tinsel or those shiny, fragile ornaments that cats love to attack. You don’t have to leave them off the tree, just move them up a little higher, out of reach. Or, if you do hang lights or tinsel on the lower part of the tree, wrap them around the branches and lock them down with a piece of clear tape. That way they won’t dangle and tempt your cat. Your cat will think any decorations that rattle or makes other noises are a cat toy, so leave those off the tree or move them out of range.

Secure the Tree

To a cat, a Christmas tree is a great to jump on and a nice perch to oversee their domain, so that means you need to make sure they can’t easily tip it over if they get past all the other precautions you’ve taken to keep them out. Secure it to a wall with some fishing line—tie it near the top—to help keep it falling over. Tie the line to the top of the tree and the other end to a curtain rod, a nail tucked into a stud, or something else sturdy enough to hold it in place.

Don’t forget about the furniture around the tree too. Move it away so that you cat can’t use it as a launch pad for adventure.

Consider Different Tree Types

Real Christmas trees look great, but needles can be hazardous for cats if they chew on them. It can even cause problems like drooling or vomiting. Artificial trees are a good alternative for pet owners, for that reason. There are way more options for artificial trees now that look realistic or give your living room a unique, artsy look. If you do opt for a real tree, keep the water bowl covered with a tree skirt and weighed down with presents or other decorations to keep the cats from drinking it. Chemicals use to preserve trees can make that water poisonous for pets.

Ryan Van Bibber
Ryan is a senior editor at Family Handyman. Prior to that he was a senior editor at Outside and the NFL editor at SB Nation.