The holidays are coming, and celebration with loved ones is always on the to-do list. But our time of cheer and merriment also brings about some change to your feline’s routine and habits, and that can be stressful on a kitty!
They might not outwardly show it, but cats are sensitive beings who are affected by stress in ways that will be familiar to humans. Stress can lead to behavioral issues, physical concerns or emotional challenges in your cat, and the holidays are some of the most stressful times of the year. For everyone.
But what are you to do? Great Aunt Frida has already invited four of her friends to your first big Thanksgiving celebration, completely disregarding your cat’s feelings about crowds!
The good news is you don’t have to switch up your plans or trim the guest list. There are five ways you can help Mittens de-stress before, during and after the celebrations. Grab your pen and get ready to take notes!
1. Introducing Great Aunt Frida and guests
Has your furry friend met everyone on the guest list? If not, add peaceful introductions to the agenda. You can do this by letting your cat decide when they would like to interact with party members.
If your cat backs away when approached by a new face, let your guests know it just takes your fur baby some time to warm up to folks. When your cat is ready, they’ll come and say hello. Pressuring your cat into being held or petted will only cause unnecessary anxiety.
2. Create a cat haven
A cat can take great comfort in a safe space when overwhelmed. Grab their favorite blanket, pet bed or one of your old t-shirts. Next, find a space out of the way, like under a side-table in the home office or a quiet spot under your bedroom window. Now add the little bed and a few favorite toys. Voila! You’ve created a cat haven for Mittens to retreat to during stressful moments.
If your cat’s food and litter box are in central areas, consider moving them to a quieter location.
Be sure to show your pet their safe space and new locations of their cat food and litter box. And like tip #1, let your pet come out of their cat haven when they’re ready. Like humans, some cats are more introverted than others, and that’s perfectly okay.
3. Caution on the holiday décor and plants
This tip can be just as much a de-stresser to you as to your pet. Holiday décor and plants can bring an array of hazards to your cat, so choose unbreakable décor to avoid the risk of broken glass when Mittens tries to knock it all off the table or tree.
If you already have decorations that are breakable, place them out of reach to keep your cat from playing with them.
Additionally, many holiday plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to pets when ingested. Try opting for fake holiday plants instead. Bonus: You’ve got your plant décor covered year after year with a fake addition.
4. Keep Your Routine
Try to keep your pet’s routine in place as much as possible. Before, during and after your holiday celebrations, keep the same feeding times or designated play/walk times to avoid adding extra stress to your feline. Older cats especially cope with stress better by keeping to their set schedule.
5. A little extra TLC
Cats form attachments to their favorite humans, and even if they don’t show it, they crave that human touch and general human interaction. Therefore, it’s important to show your pet a little extra love before and after the festivities. Snuggling can let them know these holiday celebrations were only temporary and that all is well in the home.
6. Add soothing pheromones to the dwelling
Synthetic cat pheromones found in sprays or diffusers can make your cat feel less anxious and stressed. Studies show that when the synthetic pheromone is released into the air, it can mimic a variety of naturally occurring pheromones known to signal a safe, familiar territory. This method can also help cats with litter box issues, spraying or aggressive behavior.
Note, you’ll want to pick up pheromone sprays or diffusers from your local pet store at least a month before your upcoming holiday shindig. Each cat is different, so it could take as little as 2 to 4 days for them to respond to the synthetic pheromone; or it could take up to 30 days for them to feel the calming effects.
We hope this list brings you and your furry feline peace during your upcoming holidays. However, if your cat still seems stressed as you put up the holiday décor and extra guests make their way into your home, it might be best to call your local veterinarian. Sometimes our pets need a little extra anti-anxiety help from their doctor.
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The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.