Veterinarian Advises Caution with Viral Trick to Deter Cats from Climbing Christmas Trees

As the festive season rolls in, along with the joy of Christmas movies, gift shopping, and tree decorating, cat owners face the familiar challenge of keeping their curious cats from climbing the Christmas tree.

This year, a controversial trend has resurfaced on social media, suggesting a method to deter cats by scaring them with the tree before it’s decorated.


This approach, aimed at frightening the cat so much that they would avoid climbing the tree, has gained traction online. However, it has been criticized by animal experts, including veterinarian Dr. Katy Nelson, who strongly advises against training pets through fear.

Despite the controversy, the trend remains popular on social media. A TikTok video by user Brielle Larson (@briellellarson), showing her attempt at this method, garnered over 18.2 million views and 3 million likes. The video featured the owners waving an artificial tree at their cat, with the caption suggesting the intent to scare the cat to prevent tree climbing.

@briellellarson mission accomplished ✔️#catsoftiktok ♬ Elf – Main Theme – Geek Music

Dr. Nelson, a senior veterinarian at Chewy, recommends against such practices. Instead, she suggests safer alternatives to keep cats away from the tree. These include securing the tree to the wall, using citrus oil or fruits as natural deterrents, wrapping the base in aluminum foil, or even providing a cat-friendly tree for exploration.

Why Do Cats Love Christmas Trees?

Cats are often drawn to Christmas trees for their height, offering a great vantage point, and fluffy trees make appealing hiding spots. However, other holiday decorations can also pose risks to cats. Glass ornaments, potpourri, dangerous plants, candles, and tinsel should be kept out of cats’ reach to ensure their safety.

@cutefunnypets3 Cat and Christmas trees#pet #cat #christmas ♬ original sound – Funny cute dogs and cats

The reaction to Larson’s TikTok video has been mixed. While some viewers shared their experiences with similar techniques, others expressed concern over the cat’s apparent fear.

One viewer noted the cat’s horrified expression, while another shared that similar tactics hadn’t worked with their cat. A more empathetic response came from a cat owner who preferred the possibility of a ruined tree over scaring their pet.

This story highlights the need for safe and compassionate methods to integrate pets into holiday festivities, ensuring both their well-being and the preservation of cherished holiday traditions.


  • Amanda Wheatley

    Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..) Why Trust ShelterAPet? At ShelterAPet, our collective is composed of writers, veterinarians, and seasoned animal trainers with a deep passion for pets. Our team of esteemed professionals delves into extensive research to deliver trustworthy insights on a broad spectrum of pet-related subjects. We anchor our evaluations on direct customer experiences, meticulous testing, and comprehensive scrutiny. Our commitment is to uphold transparency and integrity for our cherished community of pet aficionados and prospective pet parents.

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