Cats and Christmas Trees: Keeping Safe

Cats and Christmas Trees: Keeping Safe | Animed Direct

Cats are naturally intrigued by anything new and a fully decked-out Christmas tree is one big shiny temptation! Catching your cat climbing the Christmas tree can be funny, and we love sharing the videos with friends and family to watch over the festive season. However, your cat’s curiosity could lead to more than tangled lights and baubles on the floor. Christmas trees pose a few dangers to your cat that you should be aware of. Here’s what to watch out for, and how to make sure you have a cat proof Christmas tree over the festive season!

Are Christmas Trees Poisonous to Cats?

The oils produced by some real Christmas trees are mildly toxic if consumed. They can cause minor irritation to a cat’s mouth and stomach, and could lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. However, they are considered to be of low toxicity, so are unlikely to cause serious damage to your cat if eaten. If in any doubt, contact your vet for advice.

Are Real Christmas Trees Safe for Cats?

As well as being mildly toxic, real Christmas trees tend to have sharper needles than artificial ones. This is especially true of pine trees. The needles come off easily and can potentially become embedded in your cat’s paws. If you want a real Christmas tree, varieties such as the Nordmann fir are a good choice as their needles are not sharp and drop off less readily.

While artificial trees don’t have the sharp needle issue, they come with their own dangers. Christmas trees made from plastic can still pose choking hazards and intestinal blockages if your cat chews on them and swallows any parts.

When it comes to choosing a cat-proof Christmas tree, smaller is often better. Whether you decide to go for a real or artificial one, a heavy base is a good idea to avoid it toppling over.

Which Christmas Decorations are Not Cat-friendly?

One of the biggest risks to your cat when it comes to Christmas trees is actually the decorations you put on them.

Baubles and Fragile Ornaments

Cats are naturally curious, and they are likely to want to explore the shiny new objects on your tree. Your cat may try to fetch baubles and other decorations off the tree to play with. This can be dangerous, especially if they’re made from glass and are likely to smash. Positioning fragile decorations high up at the top of the tree is safer, but it’s best to leave them off your tree entirely.

Edible Decorations

Edible decorations made from things like chocolate and gingerbread can also be harmful for your cat. In fact, chocolate is toxic to cats and large amounts can be fatal.


Tinsel looks a lot like many of the teaser toys that cats love to play with, and can be very tempting. The same goes for ribbons, strings of beads, fairy lights and any other long decoration. However, if your cat plays with decorations like tinsel and accidentally swallows any, it could cause an intestinal blockage. This will often require emergency surgery to remove it.

Tinsel, ribbons, string and other long decorations can also end up tangled around cats.

Christmas Lights

If your cat likes to chew things, Christmas lights can pose a real hazard. Always cover any wires leading to the tree so that they can’t be chewed. You can use kitchen roll tubes to do this. When you’re not at home, always switch your Christmas lights off at the mains.

How to Have a Cat Proof Christmas Tree

The best way to ensure that your Christmas tree and decorations are cat-friendly is by doing the following:

Ensure baubles and other ornaments are securely fastened to the tree. It’s best to put them further back on the branches so they are less likely to slip off. To make them extra secure, you can try threading a cable tie or pipe cleaner through one or more bauble hangers, and then securing the tie around the tree branch.

Keep decorations up high. The higher the better, as cats are less likely to knock them off if they are out of reach.

You should also opt for a Christmas tree with a heavy base – or put your tree in a heavy pot. This will help stop the tree from toppling over should your cat decide to climb it!

How To Keep Cats Away From The Christmas Tree

One of the best ways to discourage your cat from venturing near the Christmas tree is to make it smell unattractive to them.


A lot of cats really dislike citrus smells and will actively avoid an area where this is present. Using a citrus deterrent in the vicinity of your Christmas tree can therefore be very effective. You can try using a citrus spray, orange peel, or soaking cotton wool balls in a citrus essential oil solution. Just make sure that your cat can’t get hold of any cotton wool or peel that you use for this purpose.


Another option is to spray the base of your Christmas tree with diluted vinegar. Again, cats will generally find this an unpleasant smell.

If your tree is usually up for a few weeks, it’s best to top up the deterrent smell a couple of times. This keeps it smelling strong enough to keep cats away from the Christmas tree.

How To Stop A Cat Climbing The Christmas Tree

Tin Foil

If your cat is still approaching the Christmas tree, you may wish to put in another line of defence to stop them from climbing it! A lot of cats don’t enjoy the feel or texture of aluminium foil. Wrapping tin foil around the base of your Christmas tree right up to the bottom branches can derail any plans your cat may have had to scale it.

Christmas Tree Guard

If your cat is really mischievous, you might want to consider using a Christmas tree guard. Baby gates also work, but there are more decorative Christmas tree guards available that won’t detract from the festive look.

Wrapping Up

Cats and Christmas trees are not always a good mix! However, by using our tips above, you can enjoy all the fun of decorating your Christmas tree without worrying too much about your cat’s safety. Just be sure to consider the type of decorations you use, hang them securely, and keep a watchful eye on curious cats!

Does your cat tend to get fascinated with Christmas trees? What tips have you got for avoiding Christmas decoration disasters? Let us know in the comments section below!

This blog was checked by Karin Volker, MRCVS

Biography of Animed vet, Karin Volker