Christmas turmoil and preparations are in full force and you, fabCat, have no idea where to put your hands first? Normal. Last-minute shopping, looking for gifts, decorating the Christmas tree, and all this topped with guests visiting or you travelling for the holidays - a combo like this can make even the most persevering hooman tired. But what about cats, who also feel the hectic atmosphere, but from their point of view, it’s all meaningless? Today we’re going deeper into the matter and checking how you can prepare your cat for the holiday visits from friends and family so that they don’t have to evacuate themselves into the bedroom wardrobe at the sound of the doorbell.
What about the holidays can make your cat feel stressed out?
Why is the topic of Christmas guests at a cat’s house an event that requires proper preparations? Well, first, though your cats may be used to frequent visits from your friends or close ones, the holiday time has some extra stress factors around it. Hoomans have been frantically running around the house for a few weeks now, cleaning up, moving things around, bringing out new decorations which they don’t allow to touch. And there’s also more guests at one time, too, which means more noise, loud conversations, foreing voices and general crowd. For a tiny cat heart it's definitely too much at once.
As a result, there are so many questions running through a cat’s head: “Those guests, for fluff’s sake, don’t have their own homes?”, “Why does everyone want something from me?”, “Stop with the kitty kitty call and give me catnip…”. Stress can make cats react differently, but one of the main ways cats choose to deal with the holiday craze is to simply… run. To the wardrobe, a safe cardboard house, under the bed, to the bathroom - wherever they can avoid being touched and seen by strangers.
Guests visiting, cats at home
Upfront, we have to underline one important rule, fabCats - cats have a right to hide in the closet, under the bed or in a cardboard house when you have guests over if they ever decide the crowd is too much to handle. Don’t block their access to your cat’s favourite hiding spots and don’t pull them out forcefully just to introduce a cat to the guests. As responsible cat Carers, we want our pets to feel confident on their own ground. And cats, depending on their character, may want to confront new people at the table and welcome everyone with a warm headbutt or, on the contrary, pretend that there’s no cats at home at all.
What’s OK when guests are coming over?
- A cat coming up to them to say hi,
- A cat completely ignoring the guests and living its life,
- A cat deciding that a nap in a quiet and safe space is better than entertaining the crowd,
- All of the above.
Let’s notice that in every scenario we see above, it’s the cat who decides what happens to them. And that’s how it should always be :)
How to prepare a cat for friends and family visits?
Surprisingly, it’s not Mission ImPAWssible. Cats, though they love a good routine and peace, they can adjust to changes - we just need to take them through the process properly. As a general rule - the earlier we start preparing to welcome our guests with our cat, the better are the chances of the first and every next Catmas will go ahead without major surprises.
What will you need? First of all, it’s good to prep the house. Setting up extra hiding spots and making them available is a good step forward - with our cardboard MIA cat house, cardboard palaces, hiding spots in the wardrobe or a safe haven on top of the cat superhighway, your cat will know for sure where they can go and how they can get there in case of emergency. The cat superhighway we mentioned here also gives your cat the confidence to observe everything from a distance, from a safe height - be a part of it without direct contact with anyone. That’s definitely going to boost their confidence!
For the time of Christmas preparations and guest visits, we recommend making an extra litter box and food bowls available for your cat in the room they are most probably going to hang out in. The safest option is usually a bedroom, which isn’t the room your guests are going to visit anyway. Placing an extra litter box, food and water (as far away from one another as possible) will let your cat use all their resources without needing to pass through the crowded living room or getting into the havoc of pre-holiday duties, which is another huge bonus to the cat’s sense of confidence.
An important step of Christmas prep before family and friends come over is, of course, socialising your cats. By inviting people to come throughout the entire year and allowing your cat to get used to it slowly, you’re showing the fluffy friend that new people coming into their home are not a threat. It’s even better if the people at your Christmas table will be the same people who have met your cat before. The same voices, smells and faces - for a cat even such small, seemingly not important details - bring relief and let them put their guard down.
Reaching the ultimate level of comfort for cats is also available through… playtime! On our minds here are, especially, the interactive toys, the sniffing mats and the catnip kicker toys which allow cats to play by themselves. You can place snacks around the different hiding spots in the house or along the cat superhighway as well, surprising your fluffy friend with every treat found accidentally and encouraging them with it to look further. Any element that engages your cat’s senses and rewards for their efforts (either through a snack or a catnip high) will give your cat a sense of satisfaction and success, which, again, boosts their self-confidence.
Merry Christmas, cat
Cats love routine, calm and good time management. Any deviation from the usual schedule can make them feel like a fish out of water - some cats are true drama queens. But there are definitely some cats who don’t see any problem with guests visiting too - even better, they treat it as the best time to get more pets and give loads of headbutts to everyone. As cat Carers we have to be ready for things to go either way, especially if our cats haven’t had the chance to host a Christmas dinner before.
And how is it at your home, fabCats? Do your cats look worried with all the Christmas commotion and already are on the lookout for a good hiding spot they could use on Christmas Eve? Or are they curiously looking forward to every task you do and count on your guests to welcome them with a furtastic gift?