Why Does My Cat Knock Ornaments Off The Christmas Tree?

It's the time of year that brings Christmas trees, ornaments and cat attacks. If you have cats and you celebrate Christmas, you know that as soon as that tree enters your house, your cat is 90% likely to jump onto it, knock ornaments off of it and generally get in a fight with the branches of the tree.

So the real question is, what vendetta does your cat have against decorations and pine trees? There a probably a few reasons why your cat is taking out these actions on your holiday decorations.

Hunting instincts

Cats, even though they are domesticated, are still skilled hunters! So a tree full of what looks like eggs, birds or unknown creatures that they could hunt is too sweet to pass on.

Not only are cats hunters, they also like to play with their prey. That's why when you use feather toys or little squeaking toys, they have a blast perfecting their hunter instincts. Your cat is mimicking the hunt and being able to play with their prey.

Kitten in a Christmas tree
credit: Igor Bilic/Moment/GettyImages

Climbing kitties

Additionally, climbing is something cats enjoy, and they do it partly in order to feel safe. The higher they climb, the safer they feel, because they can watch everything and be out of harm's way! So when you bring a tree from the outside, indoors cats can't help but get excited and climb it. A tree full of perching prey is just begging cats to play with them.

Attention seeking

Your feline friend might also be trying to get your attention. During the holidays, we can be very focused on wrapping presents, shopping, cooking or decorating. In the hubbub of the holidays, our pets might feel a little ignored or stressed out.

So, since they saw you spend so much time with the tree, they might figure you will pay attention to them if they knock over some ornaments. Especially since knocking over fragile things seems to get your attention faster than knocking over their cat toys. To be honest, they aren't wrong—they just aren't getting positive attention.

Close-Up Of Cat in Christmas Tree
credit: Tom Baker / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

How to stop your cat from knocking ornaments off the Christmas tree

All of this information leads us to the next question: how do you deter your cat from jumping onto your Christmas tree and batting decorations every which way?

There are a few different methods:

Don't decorate right away: Some recommend not decorating right away to let the cat adjust to the tree being in the house (and not looking like it's full of birds or mice).

Place fragile ornaments near the top: When you do decorate, put the fragile decorations near the top of the tree, as that will be harder for little paws to reach.

Keep them away: Putting the cat elsewhere as you decorate is also a good idea, because decorating looks like you are pulling out cat toy after cat toy! Seeing this will make the cat more likely to go after the "toys" in your tree, so putting them in a separate room while you decorate can be very helpful.

Close-Up Of Ginger Cat By Christmas Tree
credit: Megan O'Gorman / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Secure everything: In case your cat does jump into the tree, we recommend getting a sturdy tree stand, and even attaching the tree to the ceiling.

Repellent spray: To further deter your cat from jumping on the tree, using repellent spray on the tree itself is recommended. Don't use a chemical one, because that can make your cat sick. Instead, spray your tree with apple cider vinegar or orange juice, or get a non-toxic repellant spray. Cats don't like acidic odors or bitter tastes.

Distract them: Besides shielding your tree, go to your local pet store and pick up your cat a new toy! Distract them from the tree as you play with them, cuddle them and give them some holiday love. That way, after getting so much attention from you, they might be too exhausted to even think about the giant tree that routed up in their domain.