Keeping Cats Away From the Christmas Tree

Keeping Cats Away From the Christmas Tree

If you have cats and you put a tree up for the holiday season, you know what a pain it is to keep them away from it. Maybe some cats can resist, but in my twenty years of experience with cats, I have yet to meet of one who isn’t enchanted with the blinking, sparkly tree to the point of needing to climb it—and perhaps even knock it over—for the sheer joy of it all.

This year, rather than groggily put the tree back into an upright position every morning only to repeat the cycle each day, I thought I would look into a couple of solutions for keeping the cats away to begin with. So far, nothing has worked in a sure-fire manner, but my two main strategies, when combined, have at least saved the tree—as well as our house plants!—from taking yet another nosedive.

Strategy One: Spray the cats with a water bottle when they attack. This isn’t a preventative measure, but it helps show the cats that it’s the wrong thing to do, and that the humans definitely don’t like it! You have to stop spraying as soon as the behavior stops to show them that is what you disapprove of, and it only takes a second. We’ve taken to leaving the spray bottle in the living room near the tree as a reminder to not go near it. The older cats take one look at it and understand! In fact, they’ve pretty much stopped going near it; it’s the kittens that are still learning, naturally.

Strategy Two: Orange peels. We peeled an orange and put the peelings beneath the Christmas tree, as well as in the plant containers around the leaves. Cats are supposed to dislike the citrus scent, making them reluctant to approach it. This strategy seems to partially work, though they still approach the other sides of the tree or plants where there is no citrus. We plan on putting more out today in order to see if it will work. If our experiment goes well, then we may not even need to spray them anymore, which I do not like to do.

Of course, there are some other general preventative tips you can use as well, from how to select your tree in the first place to where to place it within your home. You can also not hang ornaments from the bottom of the tree to avoid tempting the cats. Whatever you do, remember not to punish with pain; the cats won’t respond to it (they might pee or barf on something in retaliation, actually; they’re clever!) and it’s just mean to do.