How to Keep Pets Safe from Your Christmas Decorations

Cat climbing on Christmas tree
This kitty thinks the Christmas tree is all for her!

If you have pets, you’ve likely had some Christmas tree disasters.

But can you really blame our furry friends? All those climbable branches, swattable glittery baubles, and scented chewable branches are just too much to resist!

Not to mention the wonderfully crackly ribbons and wrapping paper, just begging to be ripped open before Christmas. It’s a wonder cats and dogs can contain themselves at all!

Take the “Ir” out of Irresistible

Many an animal lover has given up on Christmas trees until their pets grow out of their curiosity, but there are some things you can try that can discourage your pets, such as:

  • Scented Repellents: Before decorating your tree, spray it with a scent or flavor that is repellent to pets.
    Examples include bitter apple, clove oil, citrus oil, and vinegar – experiment to see what your pet hates (just make sure you don’t hate it too!).
    You can also sprinkle dried orange peels around the base of your tree. Avoid hot pepper – it can get into your pet’s eyes and cause severe pain.
    You may need to reapply the repellents as they wear off, just don’t spray anything wet onto your lights, or you might have more twinkle than you hoped for!
  • Paw Repellents: Surround the base of your tree with something your pets don’t like to walk on. Aluminum foil is a classic cat-repellent (they usually hate to walk on crackly things), and you can also purchase spiky mats that are unpleasant to animal paws. This is a good way to recycle those plastic mats that go under office chairs – turn them spiky-side-up and hide them under your tree skirt.
  • Climb Blockers: Attach dark mesh or plant netting on the underside of your tree to keep your pets from climbing into the branches. You can also use netting to protect wrapped gifts or the tree itself when you’re away. To discourage climbing and scratching, wrap the base of your tree in double-sided tape or Sticky Paws.
  • Training Sessions: With some diligence, you can train your pet to stay away from the tree. For safety’s sake, stay away from squirt guns, but you can try clickers, compressed air, or noisemakers to discourage unwanted behavior.
  • Go High Tech: If all else fails, try a gadget such as Scccat, a motion-activated repellent that uses compressed air to train your pet to stay away.

Experiment with different repellent flavors and scents.


  1. The best way we found to cat proof or tree from our cats was the Christmas Tree Defender we purchased on Amazon. Since we bought the Defender we have had no problems with our cats in the tree. I was skeptical at first as I thought my cats may leap into the tree. They don’t after a few attempts they totally ignore the tree. Just wanted to let other readers know that this product is available as well.

  2. I found that putting fabric softener sheets around the tree pole on each tree layer keeps cats out of the tree. It works wonders!


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