Have you put your artificial Christmas tree up only to find your cat gnawing on the tree limbs? Does it seem like every time you remove your cat from the tree, it runs straight back to start biting again?
As odd as this behavior may sound, it’s quite common with cats. There is just something about the Christmas tree that a cat can’t resist.
Promptly putting a stop to this is in your kitty’s best interest. Read on to learn ways to stop your cat’s chewing, potential health risks, and what to do if your cat ingests artificial pine needles.
How to deter your cat from chewing your Christmas tree? (5 tips)
To your cat, this Christmas tree has become a brand-new adventure, and he is ready to explore.
What starts as batting at the ornaments and climbing high to get the perfect view can quickly turn into chewing on branches and eating the plastic pine needles.
Finding the perfect solution to this problem will vary from kitty to kitty, so it may be trial and error. Don’t get discouraged. The quicker you resolve the issue, the safer your cat will be.
If you constantly find grass-like objects in your cat’s waste, we highly recommend that you also read another of our post on “Grass in cat poop – Is that normal?”
Here are some helpful tips on the best ways to stop your cat in its tracks before a hefty vet bill can find its way into your mailbox.
Tip 1: Try spraying a citrus scent
Fun fact: cats find the smell of citrus repulsive. Spraying citronella at the base of the tree and along the bottom branches could help keep your cat admiring the Christmas tree from a safe distance.
The same concept can be done with the rinds of oranges scattered under your tree. However, you will need to replace them every 2 to 3 days when the scent begins to fade.
Other scents cats find appalling include:
Any of these scents could also do the trick if you prefer something different over the smell of citrus.
Tip 2: Use a bitter taste spray
Spray a bitter taste spray, such as bitter apple or bitter cherry, on the pine needles of the branches most vulnerable to being chewed on.
As soon as your kitty starts to chew and is met with that pungent taste, the lure of the Christmas tree will no longer have the same effect on your lovable pet.
Tip 3: Have your tree in an enclosed room
If possible, the best course of action would be to have your Christmas tree in a room that can be closed off so that your cat can’t make contact.
I realize that not everyone has this option as homes are not all lay-ed out the same. So, this is just a suggestion if it is something that could work in your home.
It’s much safer for the cat not to have access to the tree at all, therefore removing the temptation entirely.
Tip 4: Use aluminum foil or sticky paper
Try placing aluminum foil or sticky paper on the floor under and surrounding the Christmas tree.
Oddly enough, cats don’t like the feel of foil under their paws or the high-pitched crinkling sound it makes when bent or stepped on and will refuse to walk on it.
The same is true about tape or sticky paper. Cats don’t like anything stuck to their paws.
This could help keep your kitty at bay or, at the very least, serve as a distraction for a while until it successfully removes the tape from the pads of its feet.
Tip 5: Strategic Placement
Make sure to place your tree away from any surface that can be used as a launch pad.
Cats are very good at jumping and will use any platform as a springboard to get to higher ground or anywhere they want to be.
If your tree is too close to one of these surfaces, going through all the trouble using tips 1-4 could prove pointless since your cat will likely just leap over all potential deterrents.
If you try every one of these tips to no avail, it may be time to accept defeat and take down the tree early. This is the last resort.
Christmas trees are a huge staple in the Christmas season, so it would be very disheartening to put it away before Christmas day can even arrive.
However, it may be deemed necessary if your kitty is still determined to continue nibbling on the tree after all these efforts.
Why is my cat so interested in biting the Christmas tree?
You may ask yourself, “why do cats want to eat the Christmas tree?” It’s hard to imagine that would taste good to them.
You would think that after the first nibble, they would no longer see the appeal. For cats, however, it’s not so much about the taste.
Sometimes their curiosity can get the better of them. Cats are curious creatures by nature. Setting up a Christmas tree in the house with shiny dangling ornaments all over it is bound to capture your feline’s attention.
They will use their five senses to investigate; unfortunately, in this situation, that can mean gnawing on the branches.
Other reasons cats chew and bite things include:
- gum disease
- teething (if they are a kitten)
- digestive issues
- compulsive disorder
Biting or chewing is typical cat behavior most of the time. This can be deterred by something as simple as distractions or a new toy.
If you have concerns, it could be a symptom of something serious, contact your vet’s office and set up an appointment.
Your pet’s veterinarian can help you get to the bottom of this issue and find a treatment plan to help your furry friend.
Risks of chewing on a Christmas tree
Artificial Christmas trees can be toxic
When purchasing a faux Christmas tree, you should first do your research. Be careful not to buy a fake Christmas tree made from PVC. These are highly toxic due to chlorine byproducts called dioxins and furans.
Not only is this not good for your cat but all pets and people. Search instead for a Christmas tree option that is completely PVC free and without any flame retardant chemicals.
This is the most non-toxic kind of Christmas tree, so it’s the safest option for you and your four-legged friends.
Potential risks of eating the Christmas tree
While faux trees aren’t quite as concerning as real trees are in a situation like this, it’s not exactly healthy and safe for your feline friend either.
Artificial trees are safer for your cat than real Christmas trees due to a real Christmas tree’s pine needles, tree sap, and stagnant water containing many chemicals and possibly bacteria. However, even non-toxic artificial trees can still pose a threat if the pine needles are ingested.
Suppose your cat does ingest the plastic pine needles from your artificial Christmas tree. In this case, the best scenario could be that your cat will have an upset stomach for a little while.
Other more serious consequences could be an intestinal blockage and the risk of puncturing the colon or intestines. Though the risk is low, it is still possible and a cause for concern.
Not only could this be harmful to your cat, but it could also be harmful to your pockets. This time of year is already financially straining enough for most people, so it’s not ideal to get buried in vet bills on top of everything else.
What should I do?
If you’ve found that your cat has been eating the tree branches, you need to call right away and let your vet know what’s going on.
They may want you to monitor your cat and call back if symptoms occur or bring it in immediately.
Monitor your cat
When you are monitoring your cat, look for:
- behavior changes
- food and water intake
- mood changes
- litter box habits; are they using the bathroom, and what’s coming out?
If your cat seems to be acting okay and is using the bathroom and eating and drinking some, you may be in the clear.
It can take a couple of days before your kitty returns to its usual self, but if all they have is an upset stomach, that is a good thing.
When to go to the vet?
Take your cat to the vet immediately if you are monitoring your kitty and it starts showing any of these symptoms:
- not eating or drinking
Upon your arrival at the vet, they will examine your cat to look for any items that could be lodged in its throat or any painful areas.
If necessary, they will take x-rays, an ultrasound of your pet’s stomach, run blood tests, or use an endoscope to view its gastrointestinal tract or other concerning areas.
Once the problem has been discovered, they will treat your cat accordingly. This may mean giving your pet vomit-inducing medication or providing emergency surgery if a blockage is found.
As wonderful as Christmas is, it can also be quite stressful. On top of all the usual holiday stress factors, having to add a tree-eating cat to the list is too much for anyone.
Cats have nine lives, and they seem to want to test them all around the holidays.
If you find yourself in a situation like this, give the tips provided a try. The fact that you are reading this article right now means you are already one step closer to finding the solution.
It won’t be long before your lovable feline, and your beautifully decorated artificial Christmas tree will be able to coexist.