Skip to main content

Here’s what to do if your cat tries to chew the Christmas tree lights

What to do about the habit of your cat chewing the Christmas tree lights

Even the smartest cats can’t always help themselves around Christmas trees. Evergreens seem to provide endless entertainment for our feline friends. From climbing them and batting at the ornaments to chewing on the lights, there's always something compelling for cats to do while the tree is up!




10 minutes

What You Need

  • Your kitty's favorite toy

  • Can with dried beans

  • Pet-proof chord protectors

  • Aluminum foil

  • Garden stones

  • Baby gate

  • Anti-chew sprays and deterrents

Cats and Christmas trees have been the subject of many memes, TikToks, and even movies. In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the scene in which Aunt Bethany's cat gets electrocuted while playing with the Christmas lights prompted the famous punchline, "If that cat had nine lives, she just spent ‘em all."

Though the quote from Cousin Eddie may make you laugh every year, you also know that the cult classic film is a work of fiction. Of course, you don’t want anything like that happening to your real-life kitty. Therefore, you'll want to prevent your cat from gnawing on the lights. Here are some reasons why cats enjoy chewing the Christmas tree lights and ways to stop it.

A black and white cat in a Christmas tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why you’ll find your cat chewing the Christmas tree lights

Your fearless feline can’t comprehend cautionary tales like the one in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. For your cat, the chance to chew holiday lights can feel like an extra reason to celebrate the holiday season. Cats are drawn to the tree lights because:

  • Lights look interesting, resembling a shiny new toy.
  • Cats use their mouths to explore.
  • Chewing is a way to soothe teething.
  • Playing with lights satisfies boredom.
Black and orange cat sits beneath a Christmas tree and silver ornaments and looks at the camera
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Don’t encourage the behavior

Chewing lights is a cat behavior you’ll want to nip in the bud. In addition to electrocution risks, lights can also cause severe burns. Getting your cat to listen can be a bit of a challenge, but there are ways to curb their light-chewing tendencies.

Seeing your cat jump high into the tree can be impressive and funny at first glance, especially if they start chewing on the lights. Cats will be cats, right? Though it’s tempting to clap in awe or laugh and shake your head, these reactions will only encourage unsafe behavior.

Step 1: Don't yell. Yelling at the cat also likely won’t help the matter — it may only scare the kitty.

Step 2: Try to stop chewing before it happens. If you notice your cat eyeing the lights, redirect her to her favorite toy or lightly shake a jar with something such as dried beans in it to distract her.

Step 3: Training your cat to "come" or "leave it" can also be of benefit.

Cat in Christmas tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Watch wires

As intriguing as the lights look, the cat might be even more excited about the wires. In these cases, the lights are just attracting initial attention. Damaged electrical wires not only pose an electrocution risk but a fire hazard as well. Pet-proof cord protectors put a barrier between your cat’s teeth and the wire, reducing these risks.

A dog and cat cuddle under a blanket together in front of a Christmas tree and presents
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Secure your tree

Keeping your cat out of the tree in the first place is the best way to prevent problems altogether.

Step 1: Some cats don’t like the way aluminum foil feels on their paws, nor do they particularly enjoy the crinkling sound it makes. Putting some at the base of the tree can ward off curious cats.

Step 2: Garden stones at the tree's base can serve a similar purpose as aluminum foil.

Step 3: You can put a tree skirt over the foil or stones to hide them if it’s not a look you love.

Step 4: If possible, consider putting a baby gate around the tree or even setting the tree up in a room with a door you can close when you are not home.

Cat under the Christmas tree
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Use scent and taste

Anti-chew sprays and deterrents can make gnawing on lights an unpleasant enough experience that your cat may think twice before landing himself on the naughty list. Some taste bad, while others don’t smell great to the cat.

Step 1: Get your vet's advice. Speak with your veterinarian before using these products to ensure there aren’t any allergens in the spray, particularly if your cat has asthma.

Step 2: Wait for your cat to be elsewhere. Don’t spray them around the cat.

Some cats just can’t seem to help themselves around Christmas decorations, particularly lights. Chewing tree lights can be a fun, soothing, and interesting experience for kitties. The problem is that it’s also extremely dangerous. Cats can get electrocuted or suffer from severe burns. What’s more, damaged cords present a fire hazard. Even if it looks funny to see your cat in your tree, it’s important to discourage this behavior. Redirect your cat with other toys or treats, and consider protecting your tree with a deterrent, aluminum foil, or garden rocks. Keeping your tree behind a baby gate or closed door and covering wires with protectors can also reduce risks.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
When do kittens start eating food? Know the facts for your fur baby’s health
Consider this your guide to weaning kittens from milk or formula to solids
a white kitten with blue eyes in a cat tree

By the time you usually bring home a brand-new kitten at eight to nine weeks old, they’ve already gone through a significant transition: being weaned from milk to solid foods. However, you may find yourself in the trenches of new kitten parenthood at an even earlier stage. If you are fostering a kitten or have found a newborn, you have likely been bottle-feeding them milk or watching their mother nurse.
In these cases, you may wonder, “When do kittens start eating food?” Weaning is usually a natural process, particularly if the Mom is involved. If you’re bottle-feeding, the process may be a bit trickier, and you may have to help lead it. Regardless of your situation, understanding what to expect can help you know when to have kibble and water on hand as a kitten gets ready to wean. Consider this your guide.

When do kittens start eating food and drinking water?
The weaning process involves going from the mother’s milk to kibble and water, which is what a kitten will eat and drink in some form for the rest of their life. If the mother cat is around, she’ll know when the time is right to start weaning, and it’s best not to interfere.
Generally, kittens will start to be ready to take small tastes of solid foods and water at around three to four weeks. The food and water are complimentary at this young age, so don’t worry too much if they play with it more than they eat it. They’re still getting most of their nutrition from Mom or a formula in a bottle.

Read more
When can kittens leave their mom? Don’t separate them too early
How soon is too soon to separate kittens from their moms?
A mama cat snuggling her three kittens.

All parents know that rearing a family is hard work, and the same holds true for mama cats. Between regularly feeding and bathing her kittens to providing a constant source of warmth and snuggles, mother cats have their work cut out for them when they're taking care of newborn kittens. However, just because Mama Cat is exhausted from caring for her litter, that doesn't mean you should separate the kittens from their mom too early. Have you ever wondered, "When can kittens leave their mom safely?"

We'll share everything you need to know about helping your cat take care of her little ones, from how to avoid kitten care becoming a second job to when kittens are old enough to safely leave their mom.

Read more
When do kittens’ eyes change colors? The answer is so cool – here’s what to know
What color will your kittens' eyes be? The answer and timeline vary
White cat with blue eyes on a couch

Cats are unique, but they all have at least one trait in common. Kittens are born with their eyes shut. They start opening them at different times, usually from 2 to 10 days after birth. By 2 weeks old, a kitten’s eyes should be completely open.
When kittens open their eyes, they can start paring visual information with all the sounds, touches, and smells they’ve been experiencing. When you bring your young kitten home at around 8 or 9 weeks, they'll be ready to explore and stare deep into your eyes. Kittens' vision will still develop over the next couple of months, as will something else: eye color.
As you gaze back at your kitten, you might notice changes. When do kittens’ eyes change color, and is there ever a cause for concern? Here’s what vets have to say.

How long do kittens have blue eyes? What are the most common eye colors, and when will I see the changes?
Kittens are born with blue eyes, which is apparent when they open them. They may still be blue when you bring them home at 8 weeks old, but chances are they’ve already begun to transform into their adult color. A kitten’s eyes start to change between 3 and 8 weeks old. Common colors you may spot in your kitty’s eyes include:

Read more