Cats and Christmas trees go together like peanut butter and jelly. We’ve all seen those hilarious pictures of cats basking in the glow of all the lights and ornaments. But if you own a kitty, you might be wondering why your precious pet is so enamored by the tree. Even more pressing: You might be questioning why he or she feels compelled to climb on top of it or inside it, destroying an ornament or three along the way.
So why do cats find Christmas trees so irresistible? Well, according to cat behavior experts, a Christmas tree includes just about everything that a cat could be interested in — especially if it’s real. In an interview with Inverse, cat researcher Mikel Delgado explained, “First of all, you brought something new and fragrant into their territory. When cats are in familiar territory, they often want to investigate anything new! The tree has outdoor smells and bark to scratch so there is plenty to investigate.” But whether you buy a real tree or not, pretty much all Christmas trees are decked out in flashy ornaments, shining lights, and a giant decorative topper.
Let’s see … climbable, scratchable, and shiny. It’s no wonder cats look at these trees as the perfect opportunity for playtime. As adorable as it can be to see them so in awe, it stops being cute really fast when something goes wrong. That’s why it’s important to keep your cat safe from any potential dangers lurking in your tree — and to keep your holiday decor from getting destroyed in the meantime.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, tinsel is definitely something you want to avoid on your tree if you have a cat. A common cause of feline bowel obstruction, tinsel can be dangerous for cats if they ingest it. You might want to also consider avoiding ribbons, as those can potentially cause similar digestive issues for cats. Make sure you keep light strands out of reach from the cat as well — chewing on the cord is rare for cats, but it could potentially be very harmful for them.
As you might imagine, it’s much easier for a cat to harm a tree than a tree to harm a cat. So once you make sure that the cat is safe from the tree, how do you ensure the tree is safe from the cat? According to Pet Health Network, you should probably avoid hanging ornaments on the bottom fifth of the tree, unless you want to risk those ornaments falling down and breaking. As for the rest of the ornaments, you’ll want to be sure they’re well-secured on the branches. It might be worth considering an artificial tree over a real tree, since it’d be less fragrant and therefore less tempting for the cat to explore.
If you want to be sure your cat doesn’t touch the tree at all, then the best option is to simply put your tree in a room where the door can be shut and the cat can’t enter the room while you’re asleep or away from home, according to Pursuit. Commonly used repellents have mixed rates of success, so it’s better to not take a risk if you’re that concerned about your cat’s reaction to the tree.
Let’s make sure our cats and our trees both stay as merry as possible this time of year!