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Dogwood Animal Hospital

2050 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045

Keeping Your Cat Out Of The Tree

December 15 2023

Happy Holidays! This time of year brings an array of delightful sights, such as festive decorations and heartwarming cards and photos from our valued clients. We especially enjoy receiving adorable pictures of our furry patients, who never fail to look extra charming in front of beautifully adorned trees. However, we’ve also gotten our fair share of amusing photos of mischievous cats conquering their owners’ trees. If you need help with keeping your feline friend away from your decorations, read on! A local Lawrenceville, GA vet shares some helpful tips on keeping your furball out of the tree in this article.

Is It Possible To Train My Cat To Leave My Christmas Tree Alone?

Training cats is a bit of an oxymoron. As any seasoned kitty owner knows, cats are often the ones who dictate the rules. Fluffy may have already mastered the art of getting you to cater to her every whim–whether it be by feeding, petting, or playing with her–whenever she pleases. However, don’t let your feline ruler fool you. Despite her perceived power, you still can guide her behavior and establish boundaries. The key is making your cat believe that it was her decision all along. In this case, you can achieve this by helping your kitty form a negative association with the tree.

Why Are Kitties So Obsessed With Christmas Trees?

Fluffy’s obsession with trees is pretty much built-in. In the wild, cats use trees for spotting predators, napping spots, and nail care. They also often climb them to seek safety from weather or to escape other animals. Many cats can’t resist shiny things. Then there’s also kitties’ natural curiosity and playful streaks. All in all, you can pretty much expect your furry friend to get excited about the tree. That sort of mischief is just purr for the course with our feline buddies!

Are Christmas Trees Dangerous To Kitties?

To be fair, your Christmas tree probably isn’t the most dangerous thing in your house. Of course, there’s no shortage of unsafe items for Fluffy to get into in the average house. Chemicals, small and sharp objects, wires and cords, and plastic bags are all unsafe for playful pets. The tree does present some risks, though. 

Many of those ornaments are choking and/or strangulation hazards. Stringy and ropy items, such as garlands, tinsel strands, or popcorn strings, are unsafe as well, and in fact, can be deadly if ingested. For those with real trees, the water also poses a risk, as it may contain chemicals such as pesticides or fire retardants. Fluffy could also injure herself if she brings down the tree. (The chances of a National Lampoon-style tree-toppling kitty disaster, complete with a house fire, are slim but never none.) Ask your Lawrenceville, GA veterinarian for more information. 

Should Cats Be Punished For Climbing Christmas Trees?

We understand how frustrating it can be to discover your cat has toppled your tree. However, punishing your furry friend is not the solution. Since scratching and climbing trees are natural behaviors for Fluffy, she won’t know why you’re angry with her. Additionally, she may become confused and feel threatened by your reaction. This could lead to other behavioral issues, like anxiety and aggression. Use gentler methods, such as trickery and bribery, to encourage better behavior instead. Ask your Lawrenceville, GA veterinarian for more information on teaching your furry pal to behave properly. 

Can You Tell Me How To Keep My Cat Out Of The Tree?

The key is to make your furry companion wary of the tree without scaring or hurting her. Your goal is to startle or annoy your pet. When Fluffy approaches the tree, try making a loud noise. Some options for this include banging pots or pans, shaking a jar of change, setting off an alarm on your phone, stomping your foot, activating an air horn, or turning on that singing snowman. (Note: For many behavioral issues, we may recommend squirting your pet with water. However, this may not be advisable here, as it could damage the tree or gifts. Water could also pose a risk of fire or electrical damage if it were to get into the electrical outlets used for lights.)

These tactics often work because they tend to startle and annoy cats just enough to make them a bit suspicious of the tree. Fluffy will probably retreat to her favorite spot to ponder things before settling in for yet another nap.

What Can I Do To Make My Cat Less Interested In The Tree?

Our feline pals certainly have a knack for getting into mischief. In fact, if you tell your furry pal to leave the tree alone, she’ll probably make a beeline for it. However, there are a few things you can do to make it seem less inviting to your playful pet.

First and foremost, decorate carefully. Keep decorations to a minimum on the tree’s lower third. It’s best to have only a few things within paws’ reach. The ornaments should be dull and unbreakable, like the fabric snowman. Ornaments that are sharp, shiny, or fragile should go on the top part of the tree, as should the bulk of the lights and tinsel.

Choosing the right spot will also help. A corner is often a good choice. Keep the tree as far as you can from sofas, desks, chairs, or anything else your kitty might use as a launch pad. A scent deterrent can also be useful here. Citrus is often recommended, as many cats hate its smell. Just keep in mind that you may have to reapply it regularly.

Another option is to consider switching to an artificial tree. Your feline pal won’t have much luck climbing wire trunks and branches, and you won’t have to worry about her drinking the water.

How Can I Make The Tree Less Appealing To My Cat?

It’s hard to make cats do anything: Fluffy is known for doing exactly what she wants, when she wants. Nevertheless, you might be able to get your feline pal to leave the tree standing. Take time to play with your pet daily. Use an interactive toy, such as a laser pointer or string toy. The goal is to tire your furry buddy out, and get her to work off those adorable kitty zoomies. We all know what happens when cats get tired: naptime!

Another thing that may help? Distracting your kitty by offering her an alternative. A cat tower is the purrfect choice here. If Fluffy doesn’t have one, consider giving her one as a gift this year. This may keep her entertained enough to leave the tree alone.

Can I Keep My Cat From Knocking Down My Tree?

If all else fails, you might want to reinforce your tree a bit. We recommend using clear fishing line to attach the tree’s top to the wall or ceiling. It won’t show, but may provide just enough support to prevent a wipeout. It’s also important to choose a tree with a sturdy base.


Cats climbing Christmas trees is adorable, but it can also be frustrating and even dangerous. However, taking some precautions can help prevent a holiday ‘catastrophe.’ A little forethought, a little trickery, and a little luck may keep your frisky pet from knocking it over.Everyone here at Dogwood Animal Hospital, your Lawrenceville, GA animal clinic, wishes you a wonderful holiday season. Please feel free to contact us for all your cat’s veterinary care needs.

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