As I had mentioned before, real trees are potenially more dangerous to your cat. One of the reasons for this is that the needles are sharp and can pierce or puncture the skin of an overly curious kitty and the pine needles themselves are irritating to mildly toxic if chewed dependent upon the species of the tree used. (However, a chewed artificial tree isn't very healthy either!)
There are many ways to keep your cat safe during the Yule holiday. Here are a few ideas for you to try:
SIZE: A small tree is known to be safer than a large one because there is less of it to crash should things go horribly wrong. For a kitten, a tabletop tree might actually be more suitable until they grow up and stop being so playful.
TREE WATER: If you choose to use a real tree, make sure to use a water container for the tree that is completely inaccessible to your cat. If your cat drinks from it, they risk poisoning! Furthermore, if you are prone to adding aspirin to your tree water, STOP! Aspirin is very toxic to cats! Instead, add sugar but still ensure that your cat can not reach the water because it is likely to have pine sap, preservatives, pesticides and other toxic elements in it.
INTRODUCTION: Consider NOT decorating the tree initially. The idea behind this is to allow your cat to get adjusted to the tree ~ be it real or artificial.
DETER THEM: There are several ways in which to complish this. One is to not place your tree anywhere in the house where your cat can jump from a piece of furniture on to it. If they wish to jump at the tree, starting from ground zero serves to make them have to work harder for it. Also, there are many natural sprays you can use on your tree which are not harmful to your cat. Some of these are Apple Bitter, apple cider vinegar. Another is a citrus spray or citronella. Trust me, cats HATE the smell of citrus and it would still be a pleasant smell you for. Using a pine spray is highly poisonous and never a good idea! Also, placing lots of toys in the same room as the tree and/or near it, can serve to distract your cat from the little "toys" hanging on it.
DECORATIONS: Avoid using anything made of catnip which only serves to tempt your cat all the more. Also, never decorate with anything made of chocolate as it is extremely poisonous to both cats and dogs!
Some of these steps may seem fairly obvious to those of us who have lived with cats all of our lives, but taking them can definitely help one rest a bit easier around the Yule holiday.