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5 Fun and Festive Cat-Friendly Christmas Tree Ideas

long-haired grey cat with a white chest and stomach standing next to a Christmas tree, looking at the ornaments

With the holiday season quickly approaching, many of us are in the process of decorating our homes. As a cat owner, the Christmas tree can be a challenging (frustrating) hurdle to overcome. Avoid the frustration (and the destruction) this year with these 5 cat-friendly Christmas tree ideas!

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One of the first images that come to mind when you hear Christmas is likely the Christmas tree.

This has become a staple decoration for most families across Canada and the United States, the central point of their holiday festivities.

Unfortunately, the mention of Christmas trees will make many cat owners cringe.

Cats are curious by nature, and the traditional Christmas tree with its shiny ornaments and bright-coloured lights is the perfect temptation.

Christmas trees and cats can be a messy, destructive, or even dangerous combination…

Each year, hundreds of cats are brought for veterinary care after ingesting ornaments and decorations (or even artificial tree branches), falling after knocking over Christmas trees while climbing or other tree-related accidents.

In the more serious cases, these tree-related hazards can prove fatal.

It leads one to wonder, can cat owners safely celebrate the holidays with a festive tree, or do they need to swear off the tradition altogether?

Don’t give up your dreams of the perfect Christmas tree! There are options available.

I’m going to share 5 different (and out of the box) cat-friendly Christmas tree ideas for your home.

Not sold on these modern and unique ideas?

If you’re more of a traditionalist, scroll to the second half of this post where I will share tips and tricks to cat-proof your traditional Christmas tree.

small grey tabby cat inside a Christmas tree, pawing at an ornament

Check Out These 5 Fun and Festive Cat-Friendly Christmas Tree Ideas:

#1 – Charlie Brown Style Christmas Tree

We’ve all seen the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas Tree with it’s bare branches.

Why not consider taking that as inspiration and creating your own modern twist on this childhood classic?

Purchase (or find) a large branch, the ideal height of your cat-friendly Christmas tree.

Clean it up and create a base to hold it upright. This can be built by nailing your ‘tree’ to a wooden crate or using a more traditional Christmas tree base.

You can leave the tree in its original colour or paint it to match your décor.

#2 – Trim It Up

You can still enjoy that Christmas tree look with a slight twist.

Whether you’re opting for a real tree or an artificial tree, consider removing some of the branches at the bottom of the tree.

This will make it more difficult for your cat to reach the bottom branches, moving the ornaments out of reach.

If you aren’t interested in doing these modifications yourself, consider purchasing a tree with branches that can be left bent up and away from the ground.

Worried about the visible trunk? Use a festive holiday garland to decorate it and make it part of the overall look.

#3 – Suspend Your Christmas Tree

This is a fun trend that I first saw on social media.

Rather than standing your Christmas tree up in a traditional manner, why not suspend it from the ceiling?

You can either hang the tree upright but out of your cat’s reach, or even hang your tree upside down as if it’s coming from the ceiling.

This is sure to make for a fun conversation piece when your friends and family come to visit!

Related: ‘Get Rid of ‘Cat Smell’ For Good with These Tips

#4 – Wall Hanging Christmas Tree

Why not purchase or create a Christmas tree that hangs flat against the wall, removing the temptation to climb?

There are many different options available ranging from kid-friendly felt Christmas trees and decals to more elaborate cardstock trees with built in card/gift card slots and wall tapestries.

Feeling crafty? Consider making your own Christmas tree this year!

Take a string of lights and affix them to the wall moving back and forth in a tree like pattern (but be careful to keep the cords secured and away from your cat).

Alternatively, you could take holiday garland or tree branches, hanging them in a way that represents a tree.

Bonus: Wall-hanging trees take little to no room, making them a perfect option in smaller spaces!

#5 – Embrace Your Cat with a Cat Post Tree

This is an option that I recently stumbled across online and HAD TO share.

Rather than fighting your cat this holiday season, why not choose a cat-friendly Christmas tree that welcomes your cat to climb and explore?

The Kitty City Christmas Tree has multiple platforms for your cat (with removable covers for easy cleaning), a scratch post style trunk and cat-nip ‘ornaments’ to hang wherever you see fit.

You can easily change up or add to the decorations with your cat’s favourite toys.

Cat-Proof Your Traditional Christmas Tree

If you are determined to enjoy a more traditional Christmas tree, there are steps that you can take to help discourage your cat from wreaking havoc on your holidays.

After all, nothing ruins the holidays like a last-minute trip to the emergency clinic because your cat ate something that it shouldn’t.

First and foremost, avoid using tinsel on your cat-friendly Christmas tree. The sparkly nature of tinsel entices your cat, attracting them to the tree.

In addition to encouraging your cat to explore the tree, tinsel is incredibly dangerous when ingested.

Strands of tinsel can become tangled in their digestive system, cutting off the blood supply, creating blockages within the system or scratching the walls of the intestines.

There are many other alternatives available that avoid this unnecessary risk.

Consider discouraging your cat from climbing the tree altogether by focusing your attention on the base of your Christmas tree.

Scat Mats’ are plastic mats that have spikes built into them. This can be cut to fit and placed underneath the tree, preventing your cat from having access to the area.

The spikes on the mat are not sharp, however, they make it uncomfortable for your cat to walk across.

Related: ‘How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Furniture

Another low-cost solution would be to place aluminum foil at the base of your tree.

Cats dislike the feel of foil under their feet as well as the noise that it makes when they walk across it.

You may also choose to use a cat deterrent system like the SSSCat Motion Activated Pet Repellent to protect your tree and the area surrounding it.

This is a small battery-operated system that can be set up in any are of your home.

If your cat does come within 3 feet of the unit, it will spray a quick burst of a harmless, odorless spray that is formulated to deter your pet.

When decorating your tree, keep your cat in mind.

Low hanging, brightly coloured ornaments are inviting to your cat, calling them to come play.

You can also secure ornaments to lower branches using a twist tie, making it difficult for your cat to remove the ornament from the tree.

Avoid hanging breakable ornaments lower down on the tree where your cat may access them.

Always anchor your tree to the wall to prevent it from falling over, even if your mischievous cat decides to climb into its branches.  

This can be done easily using fishing line around the trunk of the tree, securing the ends of the fishing line to a wall or windowsill.

The line won’t be visible, but it will prevent any major Christmas destruction.

Finally, if all else fails, consider removing your cat’s access to your tree.

You can set up your Christmas tree in a closed room that your cat doesn’t have access to. Use closed doors or baby/pet gates to secure the space.

Alternatively, you can use a pet exercise pen like the Pet Trex Playpen to restrict access.

two cats, one brown tabby and one orange tabby, sitting on a white rug surrounded by Christmas decorations with the text 5 festive cat-friendly Christmas tree ideas

Experienced cat owners, what tips and tricks do you use to create a cat-friendly Christmas tree?

About Author

Britt is a digital/social media marketer and the owner of The Social Alternative. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending her time with her ‘pack’ which includes her husband John, their 2 dogs Daviana and Indiana and their 2 cats Pippen and Jinx. A proud pet mom, she shares all her pet-related tips, tricks and funny pet antics on Shed Happens.

68 Comments

  • Sophie
    November 12, 2020 at 6:37 pm

    I’m sure so many people will appreciate this. I’ve never really thought about the issues with cats and Christmas trees until I saw a tweet about it a few weeks ago. It sounds like it can be a nightmare combination x

    Sophie

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      It can definitely make for an interesting combination. I have a few friends that have had their tree completely destroyed when it fell over, hitting the ground and smashing everything thanks to a cat climbing it lol

      Reply
  • Lyosha
    November 13, 2020 at 4:49 am

    I often hear about issues with cats for Christmas and trees. We just had to avoid certain toys she thought she wanted play with (we ended up putting only balls and vintage Santa up the tree). having dogs now I am so thankful none of the decor is an issue for me

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:53 pm

      We have noticed that some decorations tempt the cats more than others. Eventually, I gave up on the one crocheted Santa hat ornament – it’s Pippen’s. We hang it at the very bottom of the tree so that she can pull it off when she feels the need to play with something. This approach has worked beautifully for a few years now lol

      Reply
  • Erica (The Prepping Wife)
    November 13, 2020 at 8:12 am

    I’d be the one who hung the Christmas tree from the ceiling! Lol. Just for shock value, I’d do something like that. I do like the cat Christmas tree though. That is such a cool idea. My little orange man is getting older, so he doesn’t jump unless we give him ways to do so. Like to jump on the table, he needs a chair. It has been a couple of years since we actually put a tree up or really decorated, but we have a fake tree and the cat does fine with it. I think we just did lights the last time it was up.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:48 pm

      I love going for that shock value. We have a ‘traditional’ tree but it’s all decorated in a black and gold theme, so we often enjoy the shock value from that. The best thing that I did was to switch from tinsel to ribbon. I’ve still seen one of my cats get caught in the ribbon (and got photo evidence) but at least I don’t have to worry about anyone eating tinsel lol

      Reply
  • Melanie williams
    November 13, 2020 at 9:21 am

    LOVE this post there are so many cool ideas here for cat lovers that are actually very handy thank you so much x

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Kat
    November 13, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Great tips for people with an active cat in the house! Growing up, ours was an old lady, so she was most interested in the underfloor heating under the tree. We had tinsel and everything, and she’d only rarely batted at it. I like the idea of cutting away the lower branches though, that sounds like a great and easy way to avoid broken ornaments.

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 13, 2020 at 5:46 pm

      With the added bonus that there’s more space to put any gifts under the tree without having to reach under any low-hanging branches lol I have scratched up my arms more than once doing that!

      Reply
  • Kayleigh Zara
    November 14, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    My cat actual never had any interest in Christmas trees, he would just sit underneath it and look at it! These are some really great tips that I’m sure will be very helpful! X

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 15, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      That sounds like our cat Jinx. I think she gets lost completely in the lights lol

      Reply
  • Faye
    November 15, 2020 at 8:08 am

    Love this! The cat Christmas tree is so cute haha. It must be such a nightmare trying to make a normal Christmas tree work in a house with cats!

    https://www.femaleoriginal.com

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 15, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      We’re lucky, our cats aren’t too interested in the tree. However, I still feel like I need that cat Christmas tree scratch post in our lives.

      Reply
  • Nikki - Notes of Life
    November 15, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Good ideas! I don’t tend to have a Christmas tree as I just imagine the cats climbing on it, chewing it and pulling it down! 😀

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 16, 2020 at 11:14 am

      It can definitely lead to an ‘interesting’ experience lol! You could get away with some of the options listed here, though!

      Reply
  • Mrs. P&P
    November 28, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    I remember the days of cats and Christmas trees. So chaotic! I bet several of these ideas could help baby proof the tree, too!

    Reply
    • Britt
      November 29, 2020 at 11:27 am

      Yes! We laughed at our family Christmas last year because my mother put up the pen to keep the pets out. However, it also worked to keep my younger nephews out of the gifts too hahaha

      Reply
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