How to Keep Your Cat Out of the Christmas Tree!

by Drs. Foster and Smith on December 1, 2009

Pin It

cat-tree **Guest post from Tina C.**

Decorating for the holidays has always been fun and challenging for me, but having a cat really adds to the challenge. How do I keep my precious antique ornaments and knick-knacks from being broken? How high is high enough out of reach for the garland? Most importantly, how do I keep the cat out of the Christmas tree?

There are many opinions out there with how to deter a cat from knocking over the Christmas tree. Most of them include how to attach the tree to the ceiling with fishing line, how to duct tape the tree to the tree stand, or how to clamp that wire ornament hanger onto the branch so tightly it will not come off anytime in the next 50 years. These ideas are for those that have given up and are simply trying to minimize the damage. But why even let it get so far?

Here’s my secret to keeping the cats completely away from Christmas tree and other decorations: oranges!

Step 1: Grab an orange.

Step 2: Peel carefully.

Step 3: Enjoy your snack *Slurp*.

Step 4: Take those orange peels and place a few around the base of the tree. Put some more behind the Church in the winter land display on the table. Don’t forget to put a couple up on the mantle where the stockings are hung.

Step 5: Enjoy the nice citrusy smell and chuckle to yourself that you have outsmarted the cat again.

What’s the trick? Cats aren’t fond of citrus smells. Naturally, they will avoid locations that they don’t like. Simply replace the peels every couple of days. Get your whole family to help! The best part is; you don’t even have to use the word “healthy” when you hand your teenager an orange and ask him to help you out with the decorating.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb December 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

Great idea! Pet owners may also wish to use a Tattle Tale, which emits a loud noise when a pet gets near a forbidden area, or a product called Ssscat, which emits a startling, harmless spray as a deterrent.

I wanted to mention that beside the obvious dangers of knocking over a Christmas tree, there are other reasons to keep your cat away from it:

-Tree needles can be toxic and cause mouth and stomach irritation.

-Tinsel is attractive to pets. When eaten, it can cause intestinal blockage. We recommend you leave it off the tree altogether.

-Cats may knock glass ornaments off of trees, causing cuts on paws or mouth. Sharp ornament hooks may become imbedded in the mouth or esophagus.

- Water under the tree is also a hazard. Because tree preservatives are often sugar-based (and inviting to pets) and because the water stands so long, the water in the tree stand often harbors potentially harmful bacteria. Fertilizers, insecticides, or flame retardants that were used on the tree may also get into the water.

Bonnie Ramba December 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

Oh, how I wish this would have been known 30 years ago, LOL!!! There is nothing like having a cat face smile at you perched high in your Christmas tree! The 2 “portly girls” I have now are not a problem for climbing but perhaps the citrus will keep them from EATING the Christmas tree :) Thank you for the article!

Tami Amburn December 2, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I usually just tie the tree to the wall and that way even if they do climb it, it won’t fall down.

StarCat79 February 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I have yet to see a pet that showed interest in my artificial tree…but I do like the idea of Orange peels and may try it in other areas…

Howler December 16, 2011 at 2:27 am

I’ve been searching for an answer to this question and have found many besides the orange peals (though I do like them). I will post them here.

First the cheap ideas.
SCENT
1. Orange & Lemon Peals: Some cats don’t like the smell and will avoid areas that have them. String them up around the base of your tree or any spot that the cat has access to. Just remember that they need to be replaced frequently as they dry out and lose their smell.
2. Pepper: Nasty stuff with the same idea as the peals. Just sprinkle is around like dust. But watch out, you may not like it either!
3. Dryer Sheets: Tie them into your tree so they can’t be easily removed by the cats.
4. Citrus House Hold Cleaners: Like the peals, it has that nasty fruit smell but can be sprayed on the tree instead of hung. It also needs to be replaced after a time. You can also soak some absorbent objects in these and hang them from the tree.
5. Peppermint Oil: Just spray it around the base of the tree.
(Note: do NOT spray your tree when it is plugged in, it is a fire hazard)
TASTE
6. Bitter Apple (or equivalent product): Spray it around the base of your tree. the idea is that it will make your tree smell, and more importantly, taste, bad. Note that some animals do not mind or even like the taste of Bitter Apple so it might not work for you. Also, this idea needs to be reapplied daily.
7. (My personal favorite) Tabasco Sauce: Very strong smelling. One person who used it by vet recommendation and one of her cats threw up when it came over to investigate her applying it. One cat (the one who retched) avoided the tree completely, and the other may have ran under it, but he never climbed it afterwards and didn’t like to stay under it either. He always emerged quickly with a look of utter repulsion. It is also longer lasting than any of the other ideas. Just spread it over the lower branches of your tree (Not sure how a real tree would take this). The smell of Tabasco Sauce will linger for an hour or two but then it will fade and only be an annoyance to the cats.
TOUCH
8. Aluminum Foil: Some cats may dislike walking on it. So wrap it around the base of your tree and out round the bottom like a tree skirt.
9. Upside Down Carpet Mat: The rubber ones that have spines on the underside for traction. Placed upside down a cat may dislike walking on it.
FENCING
10. Bird Netting (other fence like product): Place it around the underside of the branches to prevent the cats from getting into the tree. Watch out that your cat may just jump over this barrier from the side of the tree (not sure how to prevent that except for some ugly extensions)
11. Indoor Pet Pen: If you have one that isn’t climbable/jumpable and you don’t mind how ugly it is, you could fence your tree in. I don’t particularly indorse this idea.
TRAINING
12. The Ever Common Squirt Gun: Simple, and yet not. Just squirt your cat with water every time they get in the tree or try to eat it. The problem with this idea is that they may learn to only do this bad behaviors when you’re not around or watching. To aid in this issue you could add bells to the bottom of your tree, not to deter the cat, but to warn you they are on it. (Nightmares of bells chiming while you’re trying to sleep may ensue)
13. Compressed Air: Something as the squirt bottle, but with canned air.

There is all my cheap ideas, now for the more costly.
14. Scat Mat: an electric mat that sends a safe amount of electric into anything that steps on it. Typically used to keep your cat off the counter, there is now a tree skirt shaped one.
15. Motion Detection Sprays: When your cat walks too near this product it sends a spray of deterrent into kitties face. (not as evil as it sounds)
16. Motion Detection Sirens: When your cat walks too near this product it lets off a siren that your cat will not like and send them scurrying away.

That’s all I have. Hopefully they were a help. You may need to use more than one of these ideas, while others will be of no help for your cat. Feel free to experiment. Just remember that a good offense is a good defense. Have a sturdy tree stand or fake tree that isn’t liable to tip. Also, consider tying your tree to the ceiling and walls with guide wires if your cat tends to climb. Put sturdy plastic ornaments on the bottom of your tree while the more fragile or fun to play with stay near the top. Also, keep more ornaments near the top than near the bottom. Make sure to not use tinsel or slim ribbons on your tree and presents as they can be dangerous. They are all too tempting to eat, and once to the back of your cat’s throat, they cannot be hacked up but must be swallowed due to a cat’s anatomy.
Happy Holidays and Great Decorating!

Ellen B. December 16, 2011 at 8:23 am

Wow! Thank you Howler! Those are fantastic, we really appreciate you taking the time to write all those suggestions. As we get questions, we will point them to your comment for answers!

I have to add that I took a look at a couple of your photography videos…they are AWESOME!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: