We all get so caught up in all the holiday shopping, baking, socializing, etc., while also trying to work at our jobs. Our precious cats will often get neglected during this busy time. It’s important to make it a priority to keep kitty’s schedule of feedings, playtime, and interaction as normal as possible. They don’t understand what’s different about December. Their lives are always the same and that’s just the way they like it!
If you’re going to have guests coming to stay or visit, be sure to make arrangements for your cat’s happiness based on his/her temperament. Some cats love being in the middle of things while others spend the time cowering under a bed. If yours is one of the latter, set him/her up in their favorite room before guests arrive with all the necessities and play the radio softly with soothing music. Close the door but don’t forget to spend 5 minutes visiting your kitty several times during the sequestering for cuddles and a little interactive play.
Some cats will react to the stress of all these changes in the home, their schedule, and strange people in their environment in several ways. Some will become aggressive, hissy, or stop using their litter box. Some cats will also spray urine on luggage or other strange smelling things (gifts or boxes) that enter the house, so be sure to keep these inaccessible to your cat. This is totally normal behavior for a cat, so PLEASE DON’T PUNISH YOUR KITTY. Keeping things as normal as possible will lessen the stress that causes unwanted behaviors.
Remember the dangers to cats associated with the holidays: holly, poinsettias, tinsel, electric cords, candles, human food, tree ornament hooks, the water in the tree reservoir, mistletoe, ribbons, etc. If your cat tends to be an escape artist, before you open the door to guests, KNOW WHERE YOUR CAT IS!
Have a wonderful holiday season this year.
Laura Speirs, Feline Behavior Consultant