Cats and holidays sometimes mix about as well as oil and water. Aside from issues of cat safety, there's also potential for cats to either be ignored by busy families or become overstimulated by the festivities. In either case, kitties can become restless and anxious, which may result in undesirable behavior. But it doesn't have to be this way. Keep reading for some ideas on how you can make holidays with cats relaxed and fun for you and your feline companion.
Prepare a Safe Space
Your kitty needs to be able to retreat somewhere that she can chill out when the hubbub becomes too much for her. This is especially true if you'll be throwing parties or hosting overnight guests with whom she's not familiar. Even if you won't be providing hospitality in your home during the holidays, cats get anxious about changes to their environment. While a tree suddenly appearing in the living room might inspire more curiosity than anything else, if you have to rearrange the furniture to accommodate the tree, your cat might become stressed by such a change.
Designate a room or a quiet part of the house to serve as your cat's haven during the holidays, preferably in or adjacent to the location of her litter box. Make it comfortable and inviting for her by providing her bed and her favorite toys, and move her food and water dishes there, too, but keep them away from her litter box. It's also a good idea to normalize things for your cat by keeping up her normal eating and exercise routines as much as possible, suggests the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Establish House Rules
If you do have guests, be sure they understand that your kitty's safe space is off-limits. By all means, allow guests to interact with your cat, if she's up to it, but don't force her to leave her retreat to be social. If children will be visiting who are unfamiliar to your cat, be sure to lay some ground rules for how they should treat her. If you start to see her get anxious around guests take her to her safe place. A more social cat might be willing to explore during your holiday events so unattended plates of food could become a quick snack for her. Make sure guests do not feed her human food or leave their plates unattended to avoid any unwanted holiday weight gain.
Include Your Kitty in the Fun
Here are a few ideas for including your favorite furry pal in your holiday traditions:
- Get her a new toy. A holiday-themed cat toy laced with catnip will not only help keep your kitty distracted and out of trouble while you trim the tree or wrap gifts, it will also be entertaining to watch her have fun batting it around.
- Take her shopping. Skip the Black Friday frenzy and instead fix yourself a mug of hot chocolate, put up your slippered feet and invite your kitty to keep your lap warm while you do your holiday shopping online.
- Take her to see Santa. Many pet stores and rescue shelters, and even some malls offer pictures with Santa for your pets. If your cat enjoys getting out and meeting new people, this could create some lasting holiday memories.
- Say cheese! Get your kitty in on the family Christmas card. If she's not cooperative about posing, simply stage the picture so that she's somewhere in the frame. You can help make her more accommodating by wrapping an empty box with holiday gift wrap and placing it where she can easily climb into it. If she tolerates costumes well, you could also dress her up and snap some cat selfies to share on your social networks.
- Include her in the family gift exchange. She may end up liking the wrapping paper or box more than the gift you give her, but it will still be fun watching her play.
How ever you choose to celebrate holidays with cats, the important thing is that your kitty doesn't feel neglected or ignored. Just remember to give her space for when her environment gets too crazy. By following these guidelines, you'll help to make cats and holidays a compatible match.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies.