“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” But maybe your cat is stirring. This time of year, he might be stirring with a little feline stress and anxiety…
The holidays seem to be full of family, friends, big laughs, holiday decorations, and a bit of chaos. This can be a stressful time for cats, especially if they have not been accustomed to such spirit in the past.
Here are seven of my favorites ideas on how to survive the holidays with your cat. With a little preparation, you can glide through the holidays without a hitch.
Most cats are very particular about their daily routines and rituals. If this sounds like your cat, try to ensure you keep your cat’s routine as close to normal as possible. If you find yourself running a lot of errands, consider hiring a pet sitter to visit during your long days away from home.
2. Cat Oasis
Provide a safe room for your cat during holiday gatherings. Ensure your cat’s room is clutter-free and has your kitty’s litter box, water (not next to the litter box), calming music, toys, beds, and a few places for your cat to lounge. Ideally, you can have this room set up all the time, so your cat is not stressed about being in a new space. This room may actually be your bedroom.
3. Door Safety
Door safety is especially important for social cats or cats with a history of bolting when they are startled. The last thing you want during the holidays is for your cat to escape when a guest leaves the door open. This might be a good time to secure your cat in his cat oasis room with a tiny latch or lock to ensure no one opens the door. A latch five feet up from the ground will keep kids and nosy guests from opening the door!
4. Holiday Safety
There are a lot of holiday items that can pose a danger to cats. Poinsettias are toxic to cats. Tree water can be toxic, too, if it’s stagnant or has had chemicals added to keep the tree fresh. Ingesting needles or tinsel, and even electrocution from chewing light cords are other risks associated with Christmas trees. If these are part of your holiday festivities, you may consider only allowing your cat access to the tree when you are supervising. A small fence around the tree may discourage snooping, and can be decorated with colorful lights and garland.
If your cat’s litter box is in a prime location where guests may be buzzing by, you may want to rethink your guest traffic patterns and walkways. If that’s not possible, move your cat’s litter box for the season, or add an additional litter box to your home. Do this in the weeks leading up to the holidays, so your cat has time to get used to the change.
6. Cat Games and Play
Just because it’s the holidays and you may be busy doesn’t mean it’s okay to forget about playing games with your cat. Engaging your cat in play is a great way for him to build confidence, burn energy, and reduce stress.
7. Hide and Seek
What are cats? Predators! Forget the cat bowl and hide your cat’s food in treat-dispensing toys throughout the house or in your cat’s room. Yes, even raw cat food can be hidden in toys—just remember to clean the toys after the game to prevent bacteria build-up.
Being a cat parent may take some time and effort during the holidays, but your purry feline is worth it!
Tonya Wilhelm is a dog training and cat care specialist who has traveled the US promoting positive ways of preventing and managing behavior issues with a holistic approach. Named one of the top ten dog trainers in the US, she has helped thousands build happy relationships with their dogs using humane, positive training methods. She wrote Proactive Puppy Care and other books. Tonya offers group and private dog training classes, provides training and behavior services via phone and online, and does workshops at pet expos. raisingyourpetsnaturally.com