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Do Cats Eat Christmas Trees? Are They Poisonous to Cats?

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	Dr. Nia Perkins Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Nia Perkins

Vet, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Christmas is a magical time that fills our homes with warm smells and sparkly lights. Only, cat owners have to deal with the constant chaos of owning a Christmas tree with a pet. Christmas trees, both live and artificial, can be a hazard for your indoor cat. There are a lot of different aspects that make the tree attractive to your cats—the colored ornaments, popcorn garland, and twinkle lights are all things that attract your cat to the tree. Some cats even treat it as a giant personal scratching post! It is common for cats to chew on plants, but you have to be cautious about whether or not the tree you have is poisonous to them.

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Hazards Associated with Owning Christmas Trees

Live Trees

Some of the most perfect Christmas trees come from Pine, Fir, and Spruce trees. They aren’t technically poisonous to cats, however, the oils that these trees produce may cause an upset stomach or mouth pain if ingested. Some cats may even experience vomiting or drooling.

Sharp needles on live trees are also an issue. These are not easy for cats to digest and might cause gastrointestinal upset, obstruction, or even pierce their organs. The Christmas tree might not be poisonous to your cat, but it is dangerous.

Christmas tree with ornaments
Image Credit: bakhrom_media, Pixabay

Fertilized Water

Those who use real trees sometimes add fertilizers to the water to help the tree last throughout the entire winter season. These are often filled with chemicals, mold, and bacteria that could make your cat severely ill if swallowed.

Artificial Trees

The good thing about fake Christmas trees is that they don’t have sap or oils that could upset your cat’s stomach. They do, however, have fake needles that could still cause gastrointestinal issues if swallowed. Some of the materials that make up these trees are more durable, but there are plenty out there that lose plastic needles on a daily basis.

Ornaments

Your cat might assume your tree is full of shiny, colorful toys just for them. Unfortunately, bulbs and ornaments can come crashing to the ground if they don’t leave them alone. If they are made from glass or pottery, they could cut your cat’s paws.

cat playing with ornaments on christmas tree
Image Credit: Myshun, Pixabay

Lighting

Glaring lights are likely to lure your cat closer to the Christmas tree. If they think the lights are a toy, they could create electrical burns or turn into choking hazards.

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Other Holiday Plants Poisonous to Cats

Holly

Holly is one plant that always makes an appearance during the holidays. Try to keep it away from your cats. It has sharp leaves and saponins, which could cause a severe upset stomach or leave blood in your cat’s stool or vomit.

Mistletoe

You might like to be kissed under the mistletoe, but you need to make sure it is out of reach of your cats. A single twig from a mistletoe plant could make your cat experience diarrhea, vomiting, low heart rate, or difficulty breathing.

mistletoe decoration during Christmas season
Image Credit: Peggychoucair, Pixabay

Lilies

Lilies are a flower that you sometimes see around the holidays. Cats are highly sensitive to the flower and if they ingest it, can cause some serious damage. Cats that are not treated quickly may go into kidney failure. Other signs of lily toxicity include convulsions, gastrointestinal upset, and heart arrhythmias.

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How to Cat-Proof the Christmas Tree

Carefully Select Your Tree

If you know your feline friend is going to bite on your tree, you might consider purchasing an artificial tree instead. These trees might be fake, but they come with a lot less risk to the cats in the house.

Spray Natural Repellents

Whether you make your own or purchase a commercial spray, there are plenty of repellents that you can use to keep your cat away from the tree. Cats typically don’t enjoy strong odors from citrus, and recipes are easily available if you want to make your own safe DIY repellent at home.

water spray
Image Credit: Squirrel_photos, Pixabay

Refrain From Using Cords

Hanging twine and electrical cords are an open invitation to your cat. They can’t resist the urge to bite and play with them. It might make your tree look a little less magical, but it is worth it if it means protecting your cat.

Create a Barricade

Another simple way to keep your cats away from your tree is to create barricades. You can use gates, large furniture, or aluminum foil to deter cats and keep them from getting too close.

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Final Thoughts

You don’t have to miss out on the fun and joy of Christmas tree decorating just because you have cats. There are safe ways to have Christmas trees in the house without having them injure or make your cat ill.

Cats and Christmas trees can be a recipe for disaster if you aren’t careful. Once you cat-proof the tree, though, all you have to worry about is celebrating the holidays!

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Featured Image Credit: Nadtochiy, Shutterstock

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