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If you're a pet parent who likes to entertain, you may notice that when the party gets underway, you have a nervous cat on your hands. During gatherings your cat may hide under your bed or in a closet, not surfacing until the final guest has left the building.
The anxiety or fear that your kitty displays around large groups of people is natural. It is instinctive for your cat to be cautious around the unknown, be it people, inanimate objects or unfamiliar locations, as these unknowns may be dangerous, explains Petcha.com. Having a houseful of strangers may trigger these instincts, but there are ways to help you cat from feeling overwhelmed by the number of people or level of noise in your home.
Give Some Space
Before the party begins, let your cat nose around the house. This doesn't mean they should walk over the tables and countertops, but you want to let them see what all the fuss is about. Once used to what the party prep looks and smells like, they'll most likely be less nervous.
Animal Planet explains, "a nervous kitty is often head-shy, meaning they will shy away if you try to pet them on the head. They’re also prone to hiding, and you might notice them slinking–walking with legs bent to be low to the ground. They might also twitch their ears or lower the tail with the very tip curved upward." Cats use body language to communicate with their pet parents, so do a wellness check during the party to see how your feline friend is doing.
You don't want to force your nervous cat to interact with your party guests, so before the fun begins, make sure they have access to a hiding spot to get away from the commotion. Make your bedroom off-limits to party guests so that your cat has a comforting, familiar spot to hide. If your cat doesn't want to be around people, no matter what, set them up in a quiet, safe space such as a laundry room or bathroom with the door shut. Be sure to put all necessities–litter box, food, water, and toys–in the room so they don't stress out.
Work on Their People Skills
One way to prepare your cat for parties is by socialising them at an early age. Although common folklore tells us otherwise, cats are social creatures and love to hang out with people!
If your feline family member is a young kitten (8-12 weeks old), you can socialise them more easily. "A kitten who did not get a lot of human interaction as a baby will likely be more stressed out when socialising with new people," notes PetMD. Play often and let them interact with many different people.
You can socialise your older 'fraidy cat, too. It takes a little more patience and planning, but cats of all ages can be socialised and learn not to be so stressed out around people and noises. Regardless of your cat's age, ask your guests to let your cat do their own thing. You don't want to force them to interact if they’re not interested.
If you host gatherings with a regular cast of characters, host a meet-and-greet ahead of time, if possible. This kind of socialising is a great way to calm your cat during an event of any size. Ask your friend to sit quietly (don't make any sudden moves) until the cat approaches. Don't be surprised if your kitty rebuffs the first few meetings, but gradually they'll feel more comfortable around that person.
Providing your cat with a good hiding spot will put you, your cat, and guests in a more relaxed, happy mood. If you can ease them into socialising slowly you may be surprised to see them visit your guests at the next event. Always remember, this is your cat’s house too. If you see them getting tense, reassure that things will be okay and help them get away from the commotion. This will help strengthen your relationship as well.
Image source: Flickr
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about family life, pets, and pregnancy. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien