10 Cute Cat-Safe Christmas Tree Alternatives (With Pictures)

Last Updated on: October 7, 2020

Cats and Christmas trees do not mix. Whether they’re knocking baubles onto the floor or scaling the branches, cats seem to love the smell of pine and the natural allure of the tree bark. While it might seem like they also love nothing more than causing trouble, your cat is really only doing what instinct demands by climbing, exploring, and inquisitively playing.

In their independent world, you have brought a giant scratching post indoors for them to play with. It’s cute and adorable when it’s somebody else’s cat in somebody else’s tree, but it’s a nuisance and an annoyance when you’re the one having to pick up the tree, reassemble the decorations, and having to listen for any clink that might suggest the cat is in among the branches again.

The obvious solution is to forego the tree altogether. However, for those of you that still want to enjoy the trappings of Christmas, without the nightmare of marshaling the cats, alternatives do exist.Cat ball divider 1

Christmas Tree Alternatives

Instead of a Christmas tree, you could choose an alternative to the traditional one that still looks great, but that your cat won’t find as appealing.

Consider one of these 10 alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree.

1. Tabletop Tree

tabletop christmas tree
Image Credit: Kozak Dmytro, Shutterstock

Strictly speaking, a tabletop tree might not alleviate all of the destruction your cat causes, depending on the type you opt for. You can get real trees and artificial trees that are small enough to sit on a tabletop. Your cat will want to know what this latest addition is, but because it is less obtrusive than a full 6ft Pine, they won’t be AS inquisitive. What’s more, if your cat does pull down a 2ft tree, it will be a lot easier to put it back up and redecorate it: not ideal, but a solution of sorts.

Small artificial trees can incorporate fiber optics that give the tree light and ornamental value. You should watch your cat around these trees      because eating them can cause all manner of problems, but they won’t have the natural Pine scent that attracts a lot of felines.


2. Wooden Tree

wooden christmas tree
Image Credit: 5 second Studio, Shutterstock

We know that all trees, strictly speaking, are wooden, but the wooden tree we’re referring to here is made from a series of wooden slats.

The wooden slat tree is a great piece of festive art that really makes a statement without having to add intricate lights and decorative baubles. It is also much stronger and more resilient to inquisitive cat behavior. With that said, your cat may want to scratch at the wooden slats to leave their mark and because wooden slats are ideal for scratching and keeping claws in tip-top shape. They also provide a kind of ladder for your cat, and she is sure to find it more appealing than the cat climbing post you bought, but there are benefits to this style of tree.

The wooden tree is heavy and should be impossible for your cat to knock over. It won’t become easily damaged when your cat climbs it, either. It might have a scent of oil from the wood, but it doesn’t have dried out pine needles or tree sap to keep your cat away from. There are also tabletop versions, as well as full-size variants.


3. Christmas Tree Shelf

christmas treet shelf
Image Credit: koya979, Shutterstock

The Christmas tree shelf is not only ideal for cat owners but takes up very little space. In fact, because it hangs on the wall, it doesn’t take up any floor space whatsoever.  The shelving unit is shaped like a Christmas tree, hangs several feet off the floor, and you can decorate it by hanging lights around the frame, adding festive ornaments to the shelves, and even add a splash of color with some vinyl covering. To make it look more like a traditional Christmas tree, populate the tree shelf with plants and other greenery.

If your cat is prone to scratching through gift wrapping, you can opt for a deep shelving unit and put the presents right on the shelf. It keeps them ordered, will prevent all but the most agile of cats from getting to them, and looks very Christmassy.

Be aware that if your cat likes to sit on shelves, she will probably try to sit on your new Christmas shelves, too.


4. Wall Hanging Ornament Tree

christmas wreath
Image Credit: SAQUIZETA, Shutterstock

There are a few variations to this tree, but the principle of a wall hanging ornament tree is that it hangs from a hook in the wall, so it only protrudes a few inches out. Ornaments can be attached to the tree, and if you hang it high enough, this will deter your cat from using it as a scratching post.

However, the design means that this will appeal to climbing cats. Its design is essentially that of a ladder, and this problem is intensified if you place gifts under the ornament. They provide a leg up to reach the tree branches.


5. Ceiling Hanging Ornament Tree

The suspended Christmas tree is usually made from a decorative collection of baubles or other decorations that signify a traditional tree. Hanging an actual tree from the ceiling is not a good idea and will likely cause more of a disaster than letting a clowder of cats get inside the branches of a Pine tree.

Low hanging trees might be tempting for your cats. They will probably want to bat the lowest hanging balls around. If you hang the tree higher, it can deter your playful pets from doing this, or it could encourage them to perform gravity-defying leaps to get hold of the bottom baubles. You know your cat best, so only you know which is the best option.


6. Upside Down Tree

upside down christmas tree
Image Credit: Fusionstudio, Shutterstock

In 12th Century Europe, it was traditional to hang the Christmas tree from the ceiling, upside down. You will need to ensure that the tree is fully secured to the ceiling and that the fastenings you use will not break or detach. You should also be prepared for some cats still attempting to jump into and climb the tree, but most will simply sit and stare at it, presumably in amazement at the effort it took to put it up there.

It is best to hang this kind of tree in the corner of the room, otherwise, you will be evoking another ancient tradition akin to dancing around the maypole, whenever you enter the room.


7. Christmas Tree Wall Decals

christmas tree wall
Photo credit: KazPeirce, Pixabay

Decals are basically vinyl stickers, and they are often used as a quick and fairly simple means of adding a motif or other design to a plain and boring wall.

They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and designs, including festive designs. It is actually possible to get whole festive scenes that evoke images of a winter wonderland, incorporate Santa and all of his reindeers, and that can fill an entire wall. Alternatively, you can keep it relatively simple with a Christmas tree design.

The decal looks realistic and, as long as you avoid any crinkles or bubbles, it will look good on the wall. If you want to add lights, you can clip or fasten them to the wall itself, which not only gives the traditional appearance of Christmas tree lights but also gives a more three-dimensional texture to the finished article.

What’s more, your cats will have little to no interest in the decal. Do they scratch new wallpaper after you’ve redecorated?


8. Christmas Tree Wall Art

christmas tree wall art
Image Credit: Mallmo, Shutterstock

Decals can look great, but if you want something with a little more artistic flair that looks spectacular, consider full wall art. Canvas prints are surprisingly inexpensive. They can include a lifelike and lifesize image of a Christmas tree with all the decorations you would normally add to your tree.

The canvas gives a texture to the image that lifts it off the flat surface, too, so it offers a greater sense of realism than a flat vinyl decal.

What’s more, you don’t have to opt for a single rectangular canvas. Triptych and other multi-panel designs can be used to give a real sense of flair and individualism.

They will catch the eye and act as a real conversation starter when you have visitors round and, of course, your cats won’t want to scratch, climb, or mark them.


9. Christmas Tree Ladder

christmas tree ladder
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The basic Christmas tree shape is one of a triangle, and this shape can be easily replicated using something as simple as a set of step ladders. We suggest opting for wooden ladders, rather than metal or aluminum, although the latter could be used to create a modern take on the traditional festive design.

Open the ladder up, hang your lights and ornaments, and there will even be plenty of room under your tree to put the presents. The obvious problem with a ladder tree is that you are essentially creating several platforms on which your cat can perch, but there’s less danger of them eating the needles or drinking the tree water.


10. Christmas Tree Scratch Post

If you’re overly concerned with your cat scratching away the bark from your Christmas tree, potentially knocking it over and ruining the Christmas illusion, why not combine the features of Christmas tree and scratching post in one?

We’re not suggesting that this should serve as a full replacement for a tree: your cat will be more than a little miffed as to why it has had to sacrifice its plaything for your amusement. But by providing a new scratching post for your cat, you could deter them from turning your festive pride and joy into a shredded pile of bark, needles, ornaments, and gifts.

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Why Do Cats Love Christmas Trees?

Cats love to climb. They love to scratch. They also love to explore anything new. Bringing a tree into their territory plays on all of those intuitive reactions. They can climb the branches, scratch the log, and they are fascinated by the shiny balls that hang off the end of the branches. A lot of this activity might seem like they’re out to make your life miserable, but it’s all instinctive.

Cats scratch for a host of reasons.

Their claws grow in layers, and scratching helps to shed the old layers as they are replaced by new layers.

Scratching also helps with marking territory. As well as the visual marking of scratches, cats have scent glands in the pads of their paws. As they scratch, it leaves a pheromone behind that actually calms then, and lets other cats know of their presence.

A new tree in their living area needs, evolutionary speaking, marking, and so your cat will scratch.

Your cat is a highly inquisitive animal, and when you put a tree up in the house, feline nature dictates that she must investigate. Cats investigate by looking, smelling, scratching, and basically prodding. Hence, your beautifully and painstakingly decorated tree becomes little more than bare branches and a pile of baubles.

As natural and adorable as some of this activity is, it can quickly become very irritating. What’s more, it can actually be dangerous for your cat. Avoid tinsel because this can cause a bowel obstruction. Ribbons can cause similar issues. Even lights could cause problems for your cat, especially if you have one that is especially prone to chewing and clawing. But, if you avoid all the ornaments and accouterments that could be bad for your cat, you will be left with little more than a sad-looking, bare branch.

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Final Thoughts on Christmas Tree Alternatives

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous and happy time of year, but cat owners know the pain of having to decorate and continuously redecorate a destroyed tree. By considering the alternatives above, you can alleviate this concern, so all you have to worry about is whether the cats are peeing behind the presents and tearing away the layers of wrapping. It’s a good thing we love them.


Featured image credit: thehrhpaul, Pixabay