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Paws Off The Tinsel: Why Do Cats Attack Christmas Trees?

Paws Off The Tinsel: Why Do Cats Attack Christmas Trees?

During a particular time of the year, when the smell of pine fills your home, decorations cover every surface, and your cat scurries away with their prize. We cat owners have seen it happen; the most curious of cats sneaking around the Christmas tree and striking its contents. We all know felines are social animals, but why do cats attack Christmas trees?

It's a question that has baffled many pet owners over the years. There are some theories out there, but it's hard to know what exactly is going through a cat's mind when they blast your holiday cheer. This article will explore possible explanations for why cats thrash Christmas trees, from curiosity to neighborly rivalry.

As we unravel this mystery together, you'll better understand the inner workings of our feline friends and the strange behavior they display during the holidays.

Cats And Climbing: Understanding The Behavior

If you've ever experienced your cat attacking your Christmas tree, you know the curious behavior can leave a mess and a few questions. But why do cats do this?

To answer this question, you have to look at the behavior of cats in general. Cats love to climb and explore. A birch or fir tree placed in their domain is seen as an invitation to play—with ornaments, garland, lights, and tinsel often serving as tempting toys.

Cats also love heights. Being on top of the tree gives them an elevated position to survey their home and watch for intruders. It's their way of asserting dominance over a perceived intruder—the Christmas tree! And if they can find ways to knock ornaments off the tree, that's just a bonus!

Knowing more about your cat's natural climbing behavior can help you decide to keep your tree safe during the holiday season. Watch out for unusual behavior from your cat after playing with Christmas decors, as they might have ingested something harmful.

Tips For Preventing Christmas Tree Destruction

Cat lying on Christmas ornaments

If you're trying to figure out why your kitty keeps attacking the Christmas tree, or if you want to take precautions to stop it from happening again, here are some tips to keep your furry pal's paws off your Christmas decor.

Put the Tree Out of Reach

Cats are naturally curious and climb just about anything they can. Keep your tree away from things your cat can climb, like furniture and tall shelves. If you put it in an area where your cat can't get to it, she won't be as tempted to reach for those shiny ornaments.

Cover Up That Attractive Smell

Your Christmas tree might smell nice, but cats don't care about the scent of pine needles. Try spraying a citrus-scented air freshener around it to deter them from getting too close. Cats stay away from citrus because of its strong smell!

Keep Things Interesting for Your Cat

Cats get bored quickly and could take their boredom out on your Christmas tree. Ensure your kitty has plenty of stimulating toys and scratching posts around the house so she won't feel the urge to strike something else — like the unique holiday decorations.

Keeping Your Cats Safe From Christmas Tree Dangers

If you're looking for alternatives to a Christmas tree, there are some steps you can take to protect your cat from temptation and keep your festive decorations intact.

Go Fake or Go Home

Artificial trees may not smell like real trees but they offer some benefits. Cats can't knock them over and don't shed needles like real trees, so there's less mess to clean up. Plus, they're reusable year after year versus buying a real tree every holiday season.

Put it Somewhere Out of Reach

A straightforward solution is to put the tree where the cats aren't allowed to go—for example, up high on a table or countertop that they can't climb onto. Doing this can give you greater peace of mind that your kitties won't be able to get close enough to wreak havoc on your holiday decor.

Cat Proofing Your Tree

You can also cat-proof your tree by using an appropriate cover for the stand or base of the tree — something that won't allow curious cats to get under it and potentially claw your floors or carpets if it does topple over. And don't forget about using precautions like ribbons, garlands, or other decorations that might attract their attention — try decoration with larger surfaces and brighter colors instead that won't appeal as much to them. 

Stopping Your Cat From Knocking Ornaments

White cat siting with Christmas ornaments

It's essential to know some ways to distract your cats from taking a swat at your decorations.

First, ensure your cat has plenty of toys to distract them from the real thing. If that doesn't work, you can always try spraying a bit of lemon juice on the branches of your tree. Cats don't like the smell, which may act as a deterrent. You could also try an air canister spray that makes noise when your cat gets too close.

Another great way to keep cats away from your Christmas tree is to give them their own 'tree.' You can hang scavenged feathers, catnip toys, and other treats on an artificial branch or tree limb. If your cat has access to their activity center, it'll be more likely to leave the real one alone!

Finally, make sure that you fill the base of your tree with something heavier than the typical potting soil. Try using stones or coins—cats won't be able to push over something this heavy! This added weight will also ensure that your tree stays upright even if your cat decides to take a swat at it.

These simple tips can keep you and your cats happy this holiday season!

So . . . Why Do Cats Attack Christmas Trees?

The biggest reason is simple: cats find the tree exciting. Cats can't help the attraction to sparkly new things. To them, it's a big new object brought into their home—its branches and embellishments becoming perfect targets for pouncing and clawing. Plus, it's likely full of exciting smells, from pine needles to fragile decorations. And its higher position makes it an excellent spot for exploring or even resting up high!

On top of that, cats can view the Christmas tree as "theirs" or take away space or objects they have grown used to playing with—meaning they attempt to reclaim it. This instinct might make cats naturally territorial over the tree and all its branches—especially if toys or adornments hang off them that resemble things they often play with.

So next time you come home and find your cat attacking the tree (or any new object), remember that curiosity is simply part of their nature!


Do all cats hate Christmas trees?

No, not all cats hate Christmas trees. While some cats may be curious about the new addition to their home and may play with ornaments, many are content to observe it from afar and not cause any trouble.

Why do cats chew on Christmas trees?

The textures of the branches, needles, and ornaments can be intriguing for cats to chew on. Furthermore, the evergreen tree's smell may appeal to them because it is not something they usually encounter daily.

Why do cats hate Christmas trees?

Cats can be territorial animals and may see the Christmas tree as an intruder in their home. Cats may be further agitated by the sound of ornaments hitting the branches or even just the smell of a freshly cut tree. Additionally, Christmas trees can often provide hiding places for other animals, such as mice which often frighten cats and make them feel threatened. Combining these factors can make cats feel uncomfortable and scared around Christmas trees, leading to them expressing their dislike through aggression or avoidance behaviors.

Celebrate every holiday season with our purr-fectly cute cat merchandise!

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Christmas tree - May 27, 2017

What a great post of you that " This the Season for Cats to Attack Christmas Trees". This really true. Your post help us so much.Thanks

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