The holidays are such a fun time for us humans – decorations, parties, gifts, and special traditions. We spend more time with our family and friends, party, laugh a lot, and of course, eat a lot more. The festivities are so much fun, we look forward to it every year.
But wait! This is the view of man in these special times. Does your cat enjoy these festivities, too? Mostly not.
Our feline friends are notorious for hating change — any kind of change. In your cat’s world, all routines must be followed, without exception, and it doesn’t matter what date the calendar reads. But that doesn’t work well with human holidays. Cats are easily stressed and anxious, and all the new sights, sounds, and people the holidays bring can often cause your cat misery.
What does your cat want you to know?
These decorations may bring you joy, but you’ve made too much noise to get them out—especially if there are bells and music to go along with them. In your cat’s mind, they don’t belong in their home, and decorations often smell funny from being packaged in the attic all year long. They don’t smell like the rest of the things in the house, and that can be a little scary for your cat. The biggest injustice is that you brought all of this into your cat’s space, and then got mad at her when she tried to investigate (or even taste) those things. hiss you!
Next, can we discuss all the people who showed up? You can call them friends and family, but your cat calls them intruders. Some days, groups of these interlopers invade their territory at the same time! Many of them congregate, being loud, and some have the audacity to tell Kitty to go away when she was just trying to make friends. The other guests are still trying to pet your cat, while she has not yet decided that it is okay for them to touch her. She didn’t have time to observe and decide on these people yet. Your cat may attack these well-meaning people, or she may simply hide under the bed until they are gone. How would they like it if someone showed up at their house and started poking them? Another whisper!
On top of all that, sometimes our cats get less attention than us during this season as our focus turns to all the things we need to do to get ready and then celebrate the holiday. Kitty is bored and lonely, and feels like her resources (including you) are being taken away. She may even decide that these trappings are fair game for creating her own entertainment (and getting herself into trouble in the process). This is no fun for Kitty, and he definitely deserves another whisper!
Easy ways to de-stress
What can we do to help our feline friends stay stress-free, so they can enjoy the holiday festivities, too?
Here are some simple steps to keep in mind when it comes to your cat, your guests, and your holiday celebrations.
- slow down. When taking decorations out of wherever they’ve been stored all year, go slowly. Take them out a few at a time, and let your cat give them a few sniffs. As you begin to open the boxes, let Kitty look, smell and see the contents (safely, of course). This will slow down the process for you, yes, but it will help your cat feel like things are not out of their control.
- Give your cat a place of her own. If you’re having a large party with people coming and going, set up a “safe room” for your cat – a quiet place where she can relax. When we were running our own cat grooming company, we had
A client who would hire one of our babysitters to stay in the bedroom with their cat to make sure she wasn’t scared of all the noises, while also giving her some pampering. People the cat knows will pop in (one by one) to say hello to her and give her a treat or some chin rub.
Set up a safe room for your cat with warm bedding, a litter box, food and water. Play some soft, calming music, like Music For Cats (musicforcats.com) by David Teie, to help keep kitty’s energy calm. Placing your cat in another room behind a closed door will also prevent accidental escapes outside when your guests come and go.
- be polite. If you have guests staying the night, ask them not to rush after the cat or force her to interact. Instead, let the cat approach them first. Then, they must offer their hand to sniff and drop a treat for the kitty to enjoy. Don’t get too involved if the cat seems to welcome the attention of your visitors.
- Save some private time. Set aside time to cuddle and play with your cat at the beginning of the day before guests arrive and at the end of the day when all is calm. It will prevent your cat from feeling left out and behaving in unpleasant ways to show her displeasure with the one time with you. Give her some tasty treats and maybe a new toy or two, so the holiday feels happy and stress-free for her, too.
The holidays should be a fun time for everyone in your household, including your cat. Taking steps to ensure your cat remains her usual stress-free self will help reduce stress for you, too, so you and your cat can celebrate joyfully.