How to Keep a Cat From Climbing a Tree

How to Keep a Cat From Climbing a Tree

It is a common stereotype of a firefighter rescuing a cat caught in a tree because it is too afraid to climb down. While that is one reason to stop cats from climbing trees, another reason to stop them from climbing up a tree is to keep birds safe from the mighty hunter that is your cat. How can you keep your outdoor cat from climbing up the tree?

Cats can be kept indoors to stop them from climbing a tree. Or, if they need time outside, try adding motion-activated sprinklers around the tree. You can wrap the tree trunks with non-grip materials to discourage your cat from climbing. Chicken wire cones might also keep your cat on the ground.

Other animals like birds and chipmunks will appreciate you for keeping your cat off their tree. Keep reading to see how you can create harmony with the birds and your cat.

Wrap Tree Trunks With Non-Grip Materials

Even if it is well-fed, a hunting cat will climb a tree to get to a bird or squirrel. If you’re concerned about the other wildlife, try putting some non-grip materials around the trunk of the tree and go up about as far as your cat can jump. Aluminum foil or plastic wrap will keep your cat from climbing trees.

Because your cat will keep trying to climb the tree, the materials will need to be replaced every so often. But, if you don’t want to replace it very often, try securing flexible metal plating around the trunk during the season. It is smooth, and there is no way your cat will dig its claws into the plating. Be sure to remove it before the next nesting season.

Cling wrap and foil have a texture that cats don’t like on their paws. Start at the level you think they can’t jump to, then work your way down.

Keep Your Cat Indoors to Prevent It From Climbing Trees

A 100% successful method to keep your cat from climbing trees is to keep it indoors permanently. While this might seem to be a straightforward answer to the problem, it might be more difficult to implement than you might realize, especially if your cat is used to going outside. To entice your cat to stay inside, try getting a cat tree or other cat furniture that allows them to climb as they would outside.How to Keep a Cat From Climbing a Tree

If your cat is still adamant about going outside, you might try providing a screened cat house that you can put your cat in. They get to be outside, but they won’t be climbing up a tree anytime soon.

You should decide which you would rather have–your unhappy cat inside or your happy cat outside chasing the wildlife. Cats will find a way to chase the birds and squirrels, regardless of what you do to the trees. If you don’t want to keep your cat indoors, you may need to accept your cat’s nature.

Surround the Trees With Chicken Wire

Chicken wire is not as effective as other materials to keep your cat off the tree. However, if you made a funnel from the chicken wire or “spikes,” your cat will most likely stay off the tree.

You will want to start about five or six feet from the ground on the tree. Wrap the wire tightly around the tree once, then extend it downwards, fanning it out as you go. Secure it all with tie wraps, and your cat will stay off the tree.

You can also place the chicken wire around the tree, from the ground to about six feet up. Secure the wire with tie wraps. Then, place foil around the wire, tucking it in several places. This will keep your cat from climbing up the tree, as they won’t be able to stick their claws into the foil. However, because the chicken wire has several places for your cat’s claws, your cat might strategically avoid the foil and climb up using the wire.

Wire cones might not deter your cat if it is determined to get up the tree. They might figure out a way to dig their claws into the wire and get up anyway. A determined cat might be fatal to the bird and squirrel population.

Install Motion-Activated Sprinklers Around the Tree

Another way to keep your cat from climbing your trees is to install motion-activated sprinklers around the trees. While scare tactics are usually not a great way to discourage your cat from climbing a tree, motion-activated sprinklers can work if all else fails to stop your cat from climbing a tree. Since your cat doesn’t like to get wet, it will eventually learn that climbing a tree results in getting wet.

Modify Other Animal Habitats To Keep Cats Away

Narrow poles or other items are harder for your cat to climb, so if you set up birdhouses on long, skinny metal poles around the tree, your cat won’t be able to climb the tree as easily. However, if you don’t want your cat on the tree and use this method, you might need to place them around the entire tree trunk.

While birds may use these houses, they will also use more accessible trees, which means you will have to treat all the trees with things to keep your cat off them. If you have many trees in your yard, there’s little point in trying to keep the cat off all of them. It might be easier to keep your cat inside until the baby birds fly away.

What About Christmas Trees?

All bets are off when it comes to your Christmas tree. With the dangling ornaments and colorful lights, your cat can’t help but be tempted to play with the shiny objects. Sometimes, if you add some tinsel to your tree, your cat will eat the tinsel. While this might not kill your cat, it could cause some gastrointestinal distress for your kitty.

So how can you keep your cat from climbing your Christmas tree and playing with your ornaments?

You might be able to keep your cat entirely off the tree, but you can make it safer by anchoring it to the wall. If your cat climbs up the tree, it won’t fall over and harm your cat or anything else in your home.

If you have a live tree, close off access to the water and don’t use any chemicals to extend your tree’s life. If your cat does get into the water, at least your cat won’t be harmed.

Keep your ornaments higher up the tree and try to have unbreakable ornaments.

One more way to keep your cat off your Christmas tree is to spray it with a scent your cat doesn’t like, such as apple cider vinegar, orange juice, or a citronella spray.


The stereotype of cats in trees is popular in many cartoons, including that famous cat and mouse cartoon. The firefighters are called to help a poor little cat out of the tree, and the frail woman below waiting anxiously for her “poor little kitty.”

If you have an outdoor cat, you might know this scenario all too well because your cat probably has been stuck up a tree a time or two in the past. The more effective way to coax a cat down is to offer their favorite treats or a little tuna. If that doesn’t work, perhaps try putting a ramp that your cat can climb down.

Or, should nothing work, try calling the local humane society for the best course of action.