Christmas & Feline Stress - Tips for keeping your cat happy this Christmas
14th December 2017
With the Christmas season in full swing, it is very easy to get tied up in the excitement of decorating the house, selecting gifts and getting started with Christmas food prep. As a cat owner, it’s very important to remember that Christmas can potentially be a very stressful time for your cat with a lot of change and visitors over the period of several weeks.
As a part of your decorating process, it is more than likely furniture has been moved around and that a giant tree has been added to a room (or two!). There will be many new, shiny decorations about and likely many more friends and family visiting during this time. While some cats will enjoy these new novel objects in their environment, for many this will be a time of extra stress, which could potentially lead to other issues such as cystitis, over-grooming or behavioural changes. Below are some tips to help minimise feline stress over the holidays:
Your cat’s safe space
The key to avoiding excess stress during this busy time, is to ensure your cat has somewhere comfortable they can go that is quiet, familiar, and unchanged. This will likely be a bedroom or study that they are used to, well out of the way of the areas where you and your visitors will be celebrating the festivities. Some cats prefer to sneak under a bed or in to a wardrobe, some on a bed, while others prefer to be up high (on top of a wardrobe or on a high cat tree). Make this area as comfortable as you can, supply a litter tray in or near this area, as well as a water bowl or two.
It is inevitable that you will be having friends and family to visit during the Christmas break. While some cats love the extra attention and affection from these new humans in their environment, others are petrified of it. No one understands your cat better than you do. If you have a cat that loves a pat from absolutely anyone, then they will be in their element. On the other hand, if you have a cat that gets stressed even just with the ring of a doorbell, then it is worth encouraging your visitors (and their children) to leave this kitty alone and ignore him or her for the evening.
Heading away for the holidays
Another very common cause of stress for cats over the Christmas break is that this time typically coincides with owners leaving for holidays. Trips to catteries are often stressful for cats. Try to choose a cattery where your cat has their own unit, and a facility that knows and understands feline stress and does everything they can to minimise it. Better still, look at getting a cat/house sitter in your home during this time – this is the best way to ensure your cat is as stress-free as possible while you are away.
If your cat normally has outside access, having a SureFlap cat door in place will allow them to escape outside and get away from noisy visitors and friends who are celebrating inside. With the new app-controlled pet door, you can see whether your cats are inside or outside, and also set the door to lock and open at specific times. Keep in mind that many neighbours may also be having parties or setting off fireworks during this time, so try to have your cat inside before dark and keep them in until the morning.
Keeping it safe
With the addition of a Christmas tree and its decorations, gifts underneath the tree, other decorations around the house, and of course, Christmas food and drink, it is extremely important that you know the potential dangers and toxicities of these for your cat/s. While some cats will find these new fixtures stressful and stay well away from them, others will no doubt become curious and will explore the new obstacle course you have set up for them. Try to minimise moving furniture where you can (this will lower the chance of your cat becoming more stressed), and be sure to read our article on the common dangers to cats around Christmas time here.
Going the extra mile
If your cat generally seems stressed around the Christmas break, think about utilising some extra tools to try and minimise this. Feline pheromone sprays and diffusers are very useful during this time. They can be purchased from your local vet clinic or pet store, and help to appease and settle all cats, whether they are prone to stress or not. The diffuser is ideally placed in the room you have allocated as the safe space for your cat.
Christmas is generally the happiest time of year for you and your family, but don’t overlook your cats! Keeping them stress-free and comfortable isn’t too hard when you consider things from their perspective.