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Safety Tips for Cats and Christmas Trees

Sandy Robins

By Sandy Robins


Some cats find it hard to resist exploring the family Christmas tree. But their antics, no matter how amusing, can be dangerous. With some sensible cat-proofing, it’s possible to keep the holiday tree looking gorgeous and the felines, and other members of the household, safe.

Starting from the ground up

Because cats are inherently curious, the best way to deter tree-climbing expeditions is by sprinkling ordinary household pepper on the tree skirt, the lower branches and the lower trunk area of the tree. A couple of sniffs and sneezes send a strong precautionary message! Spraying these areas with a harmless, non-toxic bitter apple spray will further reinforce the “do not touch” memo.

pet spray deterrent

Selecting tree decorations

Since felines are beloved family members, pet parents are often tempted to include actual cat toys and treats in their tree décor. Your feline will quickly detect dangling catnip-filled mice on the branches and will be compelled to hunt them down herself. Cats have a hard time resisting such temptation! Avoid using tinsel all together as it can pose a pretty serious choking hazard to cats. If your tree has other feathery baubles you’re worried your cat will take an interest in, they can also be sprayed with a pet spray deterrent.

If your cat is very adventurous it’s probably not a good idea to string festive stockings along the mantelpiece. Bags of Wellness Kittles may be great stocking stuffers, but are best kept stashed away.

Holiday lights safety

Oddly, it not the twinkly lights that are the main feline attraction but the cables. Chewing on wiring is highly dangerous. Pets have been known to burn their mouths and singe their whiskers. Seriously bad accidents can even result in fatal electrocution. Apart from the Christmas tree, wherever you are planning to string holiday lights such as up stair bannisters and around doorways, always try to conceal the cables leading to the plug points as much as possible. If it’s impossible to hide cables under rugs or tree skirts, consider purchasing special cable covers infused with citronella that will deter chewing.

Paper, string and bows

Know your cat. Many cats are serial paper eaters and can efficiently shred paper into confetti-sized bits. So, gift bags puffed with tissue paper, and big boxes carefully wrapped and decorated with huge curly bows can easily be perceived as cat toys under the Christmas tree, inviting feline play. They will rip the paper and spoil the surprise concealed inside. If you have a resident paper shredder, it may be a good idea to hide all the gifts elsewhere and only put them out under the tree at the last minute.

Holiday plants

Holiday plants such as mistletoe and holly are toxic to cats. So, avoid fresh sprigs of these plants on your tree unless you are confident you cat won’t show interest. Digesting fake silk equivalents can be equally dangerous. However, silk ones can be sprayed with bitter apple or pepper as a deterrent. 

Be careful to avoid toxic holiday plants such as poinsettias and lilies if you have cats. Instead, opt for silk flowers.

For more holiday pet safety tips, please visit Winter and Holiday Pet Safety and Pet Safety Tips You Need to Know this Holiday

Happy holidays!

About This Page

Pet Type:



Pet Safety




Sandy Robins
Sandy Robins

As one of the country’s leading multi-media pet lifestyle experts, Sandy Robins documents the wonderful relationship that we have with our pets highlighting trends and innovative ideas as they happen. She is the winner of the Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award, presented by the American Pet Products Association.

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