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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

How do I keep the cat away from the Christmas tree?

My Grandma’s two year old cat likes to climb the Christmas tree. We tried putting vinegar around the tree last year, and it worked for some time, but then she had to refill the dishes and eventually the cat got in the tree. How can we keep the cat away?

Mark T.M

Hi Mark,

Keeping kitty out of the Christmas tree can be a challenge. After all, we erect these beautiful trees with sparkling tinsel, shiny, dangling ornaments, and we expect our cats NOT to be inquisitive! It's a rather irresistible temptation to most cats. However, with some patience and ingenuity, you can successfully keep kitty out of trouble and off the tree.

I'm going to suggest a few different tactics because not all cats will respond to the same deterrent. If one doesn't work, move on to the next, or try a combination of two or more.

Have Grandma try spritzing the tree with a Bitter Apple spray from a local pet supply store. She’ll need to spray the tree before stringing any lights on it. Bitter Apple spray is good for keeping pets away from any area you’d like them to keep away from. However, there are some critters that actually like the taste! Hopefully, Grandma’s kitty isn’t one of them. If this works, she’ll need to be consistent about re-spraying the tree every few days, as it will wear off fairly quickly.

Plan B: Aluminum foil. Typically cats don't care too much for aluminum foil because it doesn't have a texture that feels good for scratching. They usually don't like to walk on it so she can lay sheets of aluminum foil around the base of your tree instead of a cloth skirt. Just make sure she spreads it out far enough that her cat can't jump over it and land inside the tree. In addition to creating a barrier around the tree she can also wrap the trunk of the tree in foil.

Plan C: Clicker training has been proven to work wonders on cats and dogs alike. Grandma can purchase clickers for as little as a dollar at most pet stores. To train a cat with a clicker one has to be very diligent in catching them in the act. If she catches kitty only part of the time this training method will be mediocre at best and the only thing the cat will learn is to avoid the tree when she is in the room. When she spots that kitty near the tree, she should resist the urge to click, instead wait until he is on his way up and then click, click, click! Cat's don't like surprising noises so under normal circumstances this should scare him right out of that tree.

Finally, if the above deterrents don’t work, Grandma can try the dreaded penny can! Put about 10 pennies in an aluminum can, place a lid on it or duct tape the top. Watch for the cat to go near the tree. Keep the can hidden behind your back. NEVER let your cat see the can in your hand or else this won't work. As soon as your cat moves one little paw towards the tree, let the can fly. Do NOT hit your cat with the can. The object is to try to throw the can as close to the cat as you can safely get without actually harming your pet. At first the cat will run away like mad, then they will begin to try testing the tree to see where the can comes from. If they see it's you and not the tree sending that penny filled missile in their direction the game is over. They will simply wait until you are not in the room. You want your pet to think the tree is throwing the can, not you. If the animal thinks the tree is lobbing the can in their direction they will give up and steer clear of it no matter where you are. This training method should work for all the areas you want your cat to stay away from so long as you never let them see you with the can.

Good luck and Meow-y Christmas!

Kristen Buck60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

November 29, 2010

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