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Are Christmas Trees Poisonous To Cats?

Are Christmas trees poisonous to cats? Christmas should be about family and celebrations and not vet technicians and poisoned cats. Of course, you should be allowed to get into the Christmas spirit, but are you inadvertently poisoning your cat with the tree you picked?

Pine and fir trees are toxic to cats. To ensure your cat stays safe, avoid putting up these types of trees during the holidays. In addition to possible poisoning, Christmas trees put cats at risk for linear foreign bodies, Strangulation, electrocution, and fall injuries.

cat next to the Christmas tree

So, does this mean you need to give up on Christmas trees? If pine and fir trees are out of the question when you have a cat, does that mean you need to accept your fate as a fake tree owner, or are there other trees that are safe for your cat to be around?

Related: Other plants that are toxic to cats

Live Tree vs Artificial Tree

Puleo International 7.5 Foot Pre-Lit Aspen Fir Artificial Christmas Tree with 700 UL Listed Clear Lights Green

There are actually many benefits to choosing an artificial tree over real trees. If you’re worried about your kitties getting sick from your Christmas trees, consider getting an artificial tree instead. Although some people don’t like the idea of fake trees during the holiday season, they can be good for many reasons. They:

  • make a great investment as you can reuse them year after year
  • are great for people with allergies
  • don’t require any maintenance like live trees
  • come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes
  • are easy to set up 

As a cat owner, if you decide to use an artificial tree instead, there are many ways to make it beautiful. You can use all of your favorite glass ornaments and other decorations. You should avoid tinsel as this is also harmful to your furry friends. 

Live Christmas Trees That Are Poisonous To Cats

There aren’t too many things better than the woodsy smell of a fresh tree in your living room during the festive season. But because Christmas comes and goes – and your cat stays – there is quite a list of hazards you should be aware of when putting up a tree.

Pine trees, especially the ponderosa, can cause liver damage in cats due to their toxic nature.

If the tree is in a water base, make sure to cover it before your cats, who like to drink water from anywhere except their bowls, assume this is their new water feature. Typically, there are additives in the water to keep the tree looking good for as long as possible, but this will not have the same effect on your feisty feline.

Fir trees – because fir trees are only slightly toxic to cats, they might be a better option if you have little to choose from come Christmas time. The oils produced from fir trees can make your cat extremely ill; symptoms include excessive drooling and vomiting. You should avoid these 

Safety tips for live Christmas trees

Alternative options for live Christmas trees are White Spruce and Colorado Spruce trees; both are safer and look stunning in your home.

Always clean any needles lying around the tree; foreign objects like loose pine needles can cause damage to your cat’s intestines or make them very ill.

Another thing you want to do is to secure the tree to avoid it from tipping over. How you do this will ultimately depend on the situation at home and what you have available.

Popular Christmas Plants That Are Poisonous To Cats

While a familiar presence in homes during December, some plant decorations can be deadly to cats:

  • Mistletoe and holly – According to Hill’s Pets, these seemingly innocent decorations could be very harmful to your cat’s health. When these toxic plants are ingested in large quantities, they can be fatal to your cat.
  • Amaryllis – this beautiful flowering plant contains a chemical called lycorine and can cause a range of horrible symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors to both cats and dogs.
  • Poinsettias are pretty holiday plants you might need to think twice about owning if you have pets. They can make your cat sick with an upset stomach or worse if your cat eats large amounts of it. These festive plants should be kept away from your cats. 

If you were utterly unaware of plant toxicity to cats, you might not be alone. Not many cat owners are aware of just how many plants can be hazardous to our feline friend’s health.

Luckily, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has a handy alphabetical list you can consult to make sure your flora and domesticated fauna get along just fine.

Artificial Christmas Trees While Not Toxic, May Still Be Hazardous To Cats

The risks associated with artificial trees are nearly identical to those with live trees, save for the poisoning part. While imitation trees are not toxic to cats, they are still hazardous to cats. If you’re going to use an artificial tree instead, it’s important to take the proper steps to keep your kitty safe. 

Safety tips for artificial Christmas trees

As a cat owner, you have a duty to keep your cats safe. You don’t want to be the monster that spoils your cat’s fun, but you also don’t want your holiday season to be spoiled by an accident with your kitty. If you can keep your cats away from the tree – real or not – it can save a lot of worries. 

Get a spray bottle and fill it with water; most cats will not take kindly to being spritzed with water, and this should reprogram their tree obsession to a negative experience. It is better to have a damp – and annoyed – cat than a sick or injured one.

Keeping your Felines Safe During Christmas

Cats can get into a precarious situation faster than you can pick up the spray bottle and aim. It is not a smashing idea to leave your cat home alone with a Christmas tree.

It would be best to replace any glass, small or sharp tree decorations with larger, more durable alternatives (like plastic or paper). These substitutions will help avoid the risk of your cat swallowing tiny objects or possibly injuring its paws on broken pieces that might have fallen from the tree. Remember that breakable ornaments can be very dangerous for your cats. 

How about twinkling lights? Nothing says it’s Christmas better than a set of flickering Christmas lights artfully strung around a magnificent tree. However, string lights and tinsel can pose a strangulation risk to cats.

These little mesmerizing lights possess a dark side we don’t think about all that much. And no, we’re not referring to a few dead lights due to fuse faults, but the risk of possible electrocution.

Realizing how unsafe these lights can be due to bulk manufacturing makes one wonder if they are worth the risk.

Also, keep in mind that cats love to climb! And while they are known for landing on their feet when they fall, kittens and older cats might not have the necessary agility to avoid injury.

Apart from the injuries cats can sustain from tumbling out of a Christmas tree, a fallen tree is also a possible fire hazard – especially when combined with faulty lights or a nearby fireplace.

Soo… it sounds kind of depressing, right? It remains something to ponder about if you want cats and a Christmas tree in your house at the same time.

Are Christmas Trees Poisonous To Cats? – Conclusion

The only way to avoid all possible dangers while still having a Christmas tree is to cage the tree or the cat. Since one would look silly and the other might kill you in your sleep, make sure you follow all the safety tips; the best we can do is minimize the potential risks involved – and wish for a Christmas miracle.

Did you learn more about the potential dangers of Christmas trees to your cats from this post? Are you a cat owner with some tips you’d like to add? We want to hear about it in the comments. 

Are Christmas trees poisonous to cats?
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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