What with all the shopping, cooking, eating, partying, and gift wrapping, Christmas can be a hectic, not to mention stressful, time of year- and it’s not just us that can feel overwhelmed by it all. Despite giving the appearance of being above it all, cats are sensitive little creatures, and ones that can sometimes struggle to cope with all the festive activity. If you’re expecting the holiday season to be a particularly busy one for you and your household, keep your cat’s stress levels to a minimum with these 10 handy tips.
1. Maintain A Regular Routine
Anyone with a cat will be all too aware of the fuss they can kick up when their routine is disrupted. Like all creatures of habit, they like to know exactly what they can expect, and when they can expect it. Although the holiday season can be hectic, do as Vet Street advises by keeping up your cat’s regular routine as much as possible. If they’re used to breakfast at 8 am, cuddles at 4 pm, playtime at 6 pm, and dinner at 8 pm, try not to deviate too much from the schedule if possible.
2. Heap Them With Affection
Christmas might be a happy time of year, but no one’s going to deny it can get a little stressful at times. As cats are sensitive to our moods, there’s every chance that they’re feeling just as harried as you. Fortunately, a few extra cuddles are usually enough to get them back to their usual best. Make sure to add plenty of one on one time with them throughout the day… as the soothing motion of stroking has as much of a calming effect on humans as it does on cats, you’ll probably get just as much of a kick from it as they do.
3. Create A Retreat
Christmas tends to be the season the doorbell never stops ringing. If you expect your home to be overrun with guests over the festive season, make sure your cat gets plenty of breathing space by creating a safe little retreat for them in a quiet corner of the house. Isolate one room from your guests (and let them know in no uncertain terms it’s off-limits), and add a litter box, food, water, bedding, and anything else your cat might need to get through the day. Make sure to pop in on them regularly to make sure they don’t start feeling lonely, and to reassure them whenever your guests start to get a little raucous.
4. Keep Them Away From Danger
There’s nothing more beautiful or more festive than a Christmas tree lit up and glowing with lights and baubles. To a cat, there are also few things more tempting. As well as making sure they’re well out of the way while you’re putting the tree up, try to avoid adding any low hanging baubles or strings of tinsel; the temptation may prove too irresistible for them not to give them a little pull.
5. Play It Safe With Plants
Mistletoe, poinsettias, and Christmas lilies may look lovely, but all three are known to be extremely toxic to cats. Avoid any stressful (not to mention costly) emergency runs to the vets by keeping all hazardous plants either well out of their way, or better still, out of the house entirely.
6. Dabble With Some Natural Remedies
No matter how much you do your best to reduce any excess strains and stresses on your cat over the festive period, you might sometimes need to resort to a little extra help. Unless your feline is of a particularly nervous disposition, prescription medication won’t usually be needed. What you may find of use instead is the various natural stress relievers stocked by most reputable pet stores. Feliway uses natural cat pheromones to ease away any stress, while Spirit Essences’ Stress Stopper formula also comes highly recommended.
7. Brief Your Guests
If you’re expecting guests over the holidays, warn them in advance of any type of behaviors that might cause your cat undue stress. While it can be tempting for visitors to make a fuss over pets, unless your cat already knows them, they’re unlikely to appreciate the attention. Ask your guests to ignore your cat unless it comes to them first – in which case, a few gentle strokes are likely to be lapped up.
8. Keep An Eye Out For Rowdy Kids
Kids can get particularly rambunctious around the holiday season- a fact that’s unlikely to go down too well with your cat. If your guests are bringing their children with them, tactfully remind them that the cat isn’t a toy, and keep a steely eye out at all times in case they try to involve the cat in the fun and games to an extent they’re clearly not comfortable with.
9. Be Careful With Treats
Unlike dogs, cats are unlikely to use the festive season as an opportunity to expand their waistlines by several inches. That said, you still need to be careful to make sure they don’t get their claws on anything they shouldn’t. Herbs, stuffing, cooked bones, chocolate, xylitol, raisins… why these may all sound delicious to our ears (except, perhaps, for the bones), to a cat’s tummy, they spell trouble. Tuck away all leftovers in the fridge and be especially careful to discard or stow the turkey carcass away as soon as possible.
10. Travel Wisely
If you’re traveling over the holiday season, take some extra pre-cautions beforehand to make the experience as stress-free as possible for your pet. If they’ll be staying at home under the watchful eye of a pet sitter, make sure the two are properly acquainted before you leave. If, on the other hand, they’ll be traveling with you, do as Pet MD suggests by using a travel safe crate, and making sure they have access to plenty of water at all times.