When I had a lot of cats, we nailed the tree to the floor. That gives you an idea.
After all, look at from the cat's point of view. They climb trees. We bring a tree into the house and then hang toys on it.
And we expect them to leave it alone?
As we say in Brooklyn, Yeah, right!
The younger and/or more lively they are, the more likely they are to explore it, especially if it is new to them. My suggestions:
- secure the tree with sandbags or some kind of anchor
- fasten the ornaments securely
- bind up the wires around the base so they won't look so tempting, and coat them with Bitter Apple or citrus spray so they won't chew
- leave some soft "low hanging fruit" ornaments that will tempt them first and you don't mind them playing with. Sometimes they are satisfied with that, and after all, it's Christmas for them, too!
- use tinsel AT ALL. Cats can eat it and cause terrible bowl obstructions.
- indulge in the delicate ornaments that would upset you in case they break. Display them in a safe place if they mean Christmas to you, but don't tempt fate.
- wrap their presents and put them under the tree if they contain catnip. This is a sure way of getting presents opened before Christmas, and they might start on everyone else's, just in case.
- use bows on presents if the cat likes bows, because they will think the bows are for them. Some cats are indifferent to ribbon wrapped around presents, and some cats can't wait to peel it off. Try some "test gifts" to see which cat you have, and wrap in a way that will not invite destruction.
You can wrap gifts with cats present, depending on the cats. Sometimes you can stick a bit of tape on their paw, and they will be busy taking it off (I put it on my palm or the carpet first, to make it less sticky,) or you can ball up some scrap wrapping paper and let them chase it around, and you can all enjoy this special task of the season. But if the cat is making connect the dots with the laid out paper and playing with the scissors, you need to remove them from the premises to get the job done safely. Often, cats will leave wrapped presents alone. They find the task of wrapping the presents far more fascinating because of its crafty aspects.