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Cats and Christmas sometimes mix about as well as oil and water. Aside from issues of cat safety, there's also potential for cats to either be ignored by busy families or become overstimulated by the festivities. In either case, kitties can become restless and anxious, which may result in undesirable behaviour. But it doesn't have to be this way. Keep reading for some ideas on how you can make Christmas with cats relaxed and fun for you and your feline companion.
Prepare a Safe Space
Your kitty needs to be able to retreat somewhere where they can chill out when the hubbub becomes too much. This is especially true if you'll be throwing parties or hosting overnight guests with whom they’re not familiar. Even if you won't be providing hospitality in your home, cats get anxious about changes to their environment. While a tree suddenly appearing in the living room might inspire more curiosity than anything else, if you have to rearrange the furniture to accommodate the tree, your cat might become stressed by such a change.
Designate a room or a quiet part of the house to serve as your cat's haven during the festivities, preferably in or adjacent to the location of the litter box. Make it comfortable and inviting with their bed and favourite toys, and move the food and water dishes there too, but keep them away from the litter box. It's also a good idea to normalise things for your cat by keeping up the normal eating and exercise routines as much as possible, suggests the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Establish House Rules
If you do have guests, be sure they understand that your kitty's safe space is off-limits. By all means, allow guests to interact with your cat, if they’re up to it, but don't force your cat to leave their retreat to be social. If children will be visiting who are unfamiliar to your cat, be sure to lay some ground rules for how they should treat your cat. If you start to see your cat get anxious around guests take your cat to their safe place. A more social cat might be willing to explore during your events so unattended plates of food could become a quick snack. Make sure guests do not feed human food or leave their plates unattended to avoid any unwanted Christmas weight gain.
Include Your Kitty in the Fun
Here are a few ideas for including your favourite furry pal in your Christmas traditions:
- Get a new toy. A Christmas themed cat toy laced with catnip will not only help keep your kitty distracted and out of trouble while you trim the tree or wrap gifts, it will also be entertaining to watch them have fun batting it around.
- Go shopping. Skip the Black Friday frenzy and instead fix yourself a mug of hot chocolate, put up your slippered feet and invite your kitty to keep your lap warm while you do your shopping online.
- Visit Santa. Many pet stores and rescue shelters offer pictures with Santa for your pets. If your cat enjoys getting out and meeting new people, this could create some lasting memories.
- Say cheese! Get your kitty in on the family Christmas card. If they’re not cooperative about posing, simply stage the picture so that they’re somewhere in the frame. You can help make them more accommodating by wrapping an empty box with Christmas gift wrap and placing it where they can easily climb into it.
- Family gift exchange. They may end up liking the wrapping paper or box more than the gift, but it will still be fun watching your cat play.
How ever you choose to celebrate Christmas with cats, the important thing is that your kitty doesn't feel neglected or ignored. Just remember to give space for when the environment gets too crazy. By following these guidelines, you'll help to make cats and Christmas a compatible match.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of furbabies