How to Keep Your Pets from Destroying the Christmas Tree

You love them, but you don't love them chewing, climbing, and chomping on ornaments.

December  1, 2021
Photo by Linda Raymond / Getty Images

The last time I was on TikTok—a land of many treasures—I came across a trend where people chase their cats around with the Christmas tree before putting it up. The idea is that the cat will be scared of the tree and stay away from it. It’s kind of mean, but cats can be total Grinches, so I get it. However, I'm not one to chase my four-legged kiddos around with a giant tree, so I'll do almost everything else to keep them from destroying the holidays.

If you have a cat or dog (or, like me, multiples of each), you’re probably all too familiar with the precarious dynamic between pets and Christmas trees. Cats love to climb them (A tree! Inside! How fun!) and use them for parkour stunts while dogs love to rustle around underneath and frequently view ornaments as toys. Needless to say, none of these antics are particularly safe, which is why many pet parents look for ways to keep their furry friends away from the tree during the holiday season—a task easier said than done.

After a few decades of pet ownership, here are the best ways I’ve found to secure and protect your Christmas holiday tree from cats, dogs, and even young children.

Lock Them Out

The only foolproof way to keep pets away from your Christmas tree is to simply bar them from the area. In my house, we use baby gates in the doorways to keep animals away from the Christmas tree unless we’re in the room. I’d recommend extra-tall ones that cats can’t jump over.

If you have an open floor plan, another option is to surround your tree with a freestanding puppy playpen. They’re a bit of an eyesore, but you can dress them up with bows or lights for some festive flair. If your pets (or even young children) are determined to get at your decorations, it’s one of your best options to keep everyone—and everything—safe.


Tie It Up (The Tree, That Is)

My family has always used this method to protect Christmas trees against our cats, and while it might not keep your kitty from climbing up the branches, it can prevent the whole thing from coming crashing down.

Basically, we put a small hook in the wall behind the tree (make sure it’s screwed into a stud/wood, not just drywall), then tie a piece of fishing wire around the tree trunk. The clear wire gets attached to the hook, and it helps to anchor your tree if anyone climbs it, bumps it, or otherwise throws it off balance. For larger trees, you might need to use two hooks at different angles.

Use A Pet-Deterring Spray

There are certain smells and odors that most animals don’t like. For cats, it’s usually some kind of citrus, while dogs tend to avoid bitter things. You can use this to your advantage with a pet-deterring spray on or around your Christmas tree. The caveat, of course, is that some animals have no problem with these sprays and actually think they smell good.

Another similar option I’ve used with pretty good success is a motion-activated spray that delivers a loud burst of air when your pet comes near. It’s just enough to scare your cat or dog, and they’ll usually give the area a wide berth after. The downsides are that 1. it will probably scare you too, and 2. the cans of air can be relatively pricey and run out quickly.

Wrap It In Foil

If your cat is a climber, you can deter them from scaling your Christmas tree with the help of aluminum foil. Cats generally don’t like the sound tin foil makes or the way it feels on their little feet, so wrapping the base of your tree in this material will often keep them from climbing. Just make sure your tree is placed far enough away from any launching points—such as nearby furniture—so your kitty can’t just jump onto the higher branches.

Decorate Accordingly

In the eyes of my dogs, Christmas ornaments are simply forbidden balls, so we strictly use shatter-free ornaments—always a good idea if you have curious pets or children. Plus, to keep your dogs/cats/kids from plucking ornaments off the tree, it’s best to place delicate and/or tempting decorations higher up. Oh, and definitely skip those edible ornaments like popcorn and candy canes, which are just asking to be eaten.

Do you have any proven ways of keeping dogs and cats away from your Christmas tree? Share your knowledge below!

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.