Are Christmas Trees Toxic to Cats: 5 Safety Tips

Real, traditional Christmas trees we use are pine trees. While a Christmas tree itself doesn’t pose a danger for your cat, its needles, Christmas ornaments, and lightning wires are a concern.

Although I’d suggest you make a DIY cat-friendly Christmas tree or opt for a fake (an artificial) Christmas tree with fewer decorations, many families with cats still prefer the real, traditional Christmas trees.

In this case, you might want to consider some tricks on how to keep your cat away from the tree

If you still want to go with the real one, I’ll explain common risks you should be aware of, and show you how you can make the Christmas tree much safer for your feline friend.

The Dangers of Christmas Trees for Cats

When planning to decorate a Christmas tree, you should be aware of several potential risks it can have for your kitty.

Tree Needles

These trees produce essential oils that are poisonous to cats and can pose a risk to their well-being. While cats don’t bite the tree, they might try to chew on its needles and accidentally swallow them.

By swallowing the pine needles that your Christmas tree may shed, your kitty might be at risk of poisoning, choking hazards, liver damage, and sometimes intestinal blockage.

The common symptoms of pine tree poisoning in cats can be:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Drooling
  • Breathing issues

If your cat has eaten pine tree needles, take them to your vet and ask for assistance immediately.

Injuries From Broken Decorations

Christmas tree decorations are often made from glass, leaving sharp pieces on the ground when they break. If your cat runs near a Christmas tree with broken decorations beneath it, there’s a chance they’ll cut their paws.

On top of that, there’s also a chance they could try to swallow a broken piece, leading to internal damage or even intestinal blockage – often a life-threatening condition.

Injuries by Knocking Down the Christmas Tree

When cats see shining objects all over the Christmas tree, they jump on it, potentially knocking it down. While they may break some decorations, there’s a high chance the tree might fall on the cats and hurt them.

Burns and Electrocution

A Christmas light wire is one of the most important decorations for Christmas trees. Lightning wires are often on the ground and dangling from the tree, making them easily accessible to cats.

So they may try to play with and bite them, leading to painful burns and electrocution.

Water From the Pot

When we use a natural tree as our Christmas tree, we often put water in the pot, along with citric acids, soda, or other fluids that cats can’t process.

Since the pot is on the ground, it’s easy for a grown kitty to reach it and drink this water – and you don’t want that.

5 Ways to Make Your Christmas Tree Safer for Your Cat

Now that you understand why traditional Christmas trees can pose a danger to your cat, you may wonder if there are any ways to make it safer for them.

To help you and save you time, I listed the five most important precautions to protect your kitty from the risks your Christmas tree may pose to them.

Get rid of Shedded Needles

christmas tree needles on the floor

Since real Christmas trees constantly shed their needles, there are often pine needles on the floor and tree skirts. One of the safety measures you should constantly take is to keep it clean.

Collect and toss away all the needles from the floor or vacuum your tree skirt at least once daily.

And don’t forget to supervise your kitty while they’re playing, so you can prevent them from ingesting any tree needles.

Use a Heavy Stand

christmas tree heavy stand

When cats notice the shining decorations on a Christmas tree, they often jump and try to grab them. Once they do, there’s a risk of knocking down the tree, breaking your decorations, and hurting themselves.

A heavy stand is one of the best ways to make your Christmas tree stay steady. Here are a few heavy-duty tree stands you should consider:

Wrap The Lightning Wires in Cord Covers

christmas light wrapped for cat safety

There’s a risk that your kitty may try to play with the cords and bite them. 

One of the most important ways to protect your Christmas tree and your four-legged friend is to wrap the electric cords in cord covers.

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:

  • Commercial cord covers
  • Scissors
  • Velcro strips (optional)

If you don’t have any prepared, here are some quality cord covers you should check out:

And here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Unplug the lights: Always start by unplugging the Christmas lights to be safe.
  1. Straighten the cable: Lay out your Christmas lights on a flat surface so the cord can be straight and untangled.
  1. Prepare the cord cover: Measure the length of the cable and cut the cord cover accordingly – make sure it’s long enough to cover the entire cable.
  1. Insert the cable: Open the cord cover and carefully insert the Christmas light cable. Ensure it’s snug but not too tight to avoid damaging the cable or bulbs.
  1. Secure the ends: If your cord cover doesn’t come with built-in fasteners, you can use Velcro strips (optional) to secure the end, keeping the cover in place and making it easy to remove if needed.
  1. Arrange the lights: Position the wrapped lights in your desired location and place them.
  1. Test the lights: Plug in to ensure they’re working correctly and that the bulbs are visible through the cord cover.

Pro tips: Tape the cords tightly around the branches so they don’t dangle too low around the tree. You can hold both a cord and a branch in one hand and use tape to put them together – this way, your cat can’t grab the cords and pull them down that easily.

You can also tape them to the wall behind the Christmas tree, making it harder for your cat to find them and get hurt. You can grab the cords, place them on the wall behind the tree, and then tape them together.

Secure the Water

christmas tree base wrapped in aluminum foil to prevent cat from drinking from pot

Most tree bases, pots, and tree stands come with water containers. Considering that most pine Christmas trees produce oils toxic to cats, it’s unsafe for them to drink this water. 

Especially if you also use pesticides and preservatives to preserve your Christmas tree’s look.

This is why it’s important to cover the tree base’s opening and ensure your cat won’t reach the water inside.

Pro tip: Since cats dislike the feel and sound of aluminum foil, you can use it to cover the tree pot and protect your kitty from drinking the intoxicated water.

Also, you could opt for tree pots and tree stands that come with lids, so you can easily and quickly change water when needed and keep it closed.

Supervise Your Cat

One of the simplest ways to ensure your cat can play around the Christmas tree safely is to observe them when they’re around it. Whenever your kitty approaches the Christmas tree, look for their reactions and see what they do.

Being on the lookout every once in a while is important as you can notice if and when your cat will try to jump on the tree or bite branches, pine needles, or lightning wires.

But remember that you shouldn’t rely on supervising your cat only without taking other precautions.

Safest Christmas Tree Alternatives for Cats

Considering that our traditional Christmas trees aren’t safe for cats, you might be wondering if there are any alternatives you could use instead. And the answer is yes!

Here are a few alternatives to Christmas trees you can consider this holiday season:

Fake/Artificial Christmas Trees

cat in front of the Christmas tree

Although they’re not entirely safe for cats, fake (artificial) Christmas trees are less dangerous than real ones.

Here are a few reasons why you should opt for a fake Christmas tree if you have a cat in your home:

  • They don’t shed pointy and toxic needles – though there’s still a chance your cat may try to bite the fake branches, so watch out for that.
  • There’s no need to keep their tree base in water, so there’s no contaminated water your kitty could drink.
  • Fake Christmas trees don’t have a rough bark, so cats usually don’t try to scratch on their tree base. And even if your cat tries to, a fake Christmas tree doesn’t have any essential oils to produce, leading to poisoning in your cat.

If you decide to go for an artificial Christmas tree but you don’t have an idea, here are a few options worth checking out:

Remember: Most fake trees come with flocking, an imitation of snow, made from synthetic materials. This fake snow is unsafe for ingestion and can lead to toxicity or intestinal blockage in a cat, depending on the amount they consume – so try to look for ones that don’t have flocking.

Pre-built Cat Christmas Trees

cat in front of the cat christmas tree

Prebuilt Christmas trees are often made as scratching posts, meaning they’re not real trees, so they’re not poisonous to your kitty. Considering it’s a scratching post for cats, a pre-built cat Christmas tree can be an excellent way to distract your curious friend from your real Christmas tree.

Here are some of the best Christmas trees for cats, specifically designed to entertain those curious paws and distract them from your Christmas tree:

Make a DIY Christmas Tree for Cats

If you have some time and want to make something more special for your feline friend, you could make a DIY Climbable Christmas tree for cats instead of buying a fake Christmas tree or a pre-built cat Christmas tree.

This safe alternative will serve as your cat’s personal Christmas tree and make them feel special – a purr-fect Christmas present that will serve as a playground and hideaway!


What Kind of Christmas Trees Are Safe for Cats?

The safest kind of Christmas trees for cats are the premade cat Christmas tree and the DIY Climbable Christmas trees for cats.

Premade ones are made mostly as scratching posts and when you make a DIY Christmas tree for your cat, you’re building it to ensure it’s completely safe for your feline friend.

What Happens If My Cat Eats Christmas Tree Needles?

Besides poisoning, there’s a risk of intestinal damage, choking hazards, or even intestinal blockage for your cat if they eat Christmas tree needles.

So, be sure to observe your kitty while they’re playing around the Christmas tree and if you notice any health issues, take them to the vet immediately.

Are Fake Christmas Trees With Snow Safe For Cats?

No, fake Christmas trees with fake snow are not safe for cats because fake snow is made from synthetic materials such as cotton, rayon, nylon, and polyester.

Although these materials aren’t poisonous to cats, they’re unsafe to ingest, so you should avoid flocking on your Christmas tree if you have cats.