How to calm down a scared cat?

The Christmas period can be quite stressful not just for us, hoomans, trying to tie everything together before we can step back and enjoy the break. Cats who don’t usually like chaos can also feel overwhelmed and scared as they watch new things coming into the house, all the cleaning up happening around them, lights flickering everywhere and guests coming over. How can we help our furry friends to calm down without giving up on festive traditions? 

Why is your cat scared of Christmas? 

Good question! It’s not like cats were born Grinches and don’t like Christmas as a general rule. On the contrary - the cozy, family vibes of the holidays are a fantastic time to be a cat and give our furry friends the best opportunity to spend more time with their hoomans. The issue comes up mostly in the time leading up to Christmas when we’re trying to juggle everyday tasks and jobs with cleaning up the house, decorating, and preparing to host our guests. Cats simply don’t like change and the chaotic atmosphere can be too much for them. When the first wave of stress passes, checking everything with their own paws sounds actually like good fun. 

Hey cat - get ready for the holidays 

A calm Carer makes for a calm cat. Sounds simple? Maybe, but it’s one of the best ways to get your cat through a chaotic Christmas prep and all the changes that come along with it, fabCat. Today it’s probably too late for tips like “start preparing way ahead” - it’s 4 days until Christmas Eve :) But even this short amount of time can be used to chill out. The world won’t collapse if you don’t get your kitchen shiny, won’t hang your lights around the entire house, or forget to brush loose fur off your cat’s beds! Let this holiday season be truly calm and happy and focus on what’s most important. 

And what if you’re having guests over and you really need to get everything tidy and ready in time? Well, we can’t remove all the chaos from that and your cats will definitely feel it. Because of that, make sure that they have a space to go to when you’re prepping as well as during your Christmas festivities - their own safe haven in a quiet corner of your house. Install the MIA cat house in your bedroom for the cat to hide in and have some peace and quiet. Move their favorite beds and scratchers away from the space where your guests are, just so the cat gets a chance to avoid being social if they’re not feeling up for it. Also, don’t forget to arrange their litter box and bowls in such a way that they’re easily accessible - we know of cats who didn’t eat for the entire day just because they didn’t want to pass by some guests at home. If a hunger strike is in your cats’ books, better serve their dinner in the bedroom :) 

P.S. Implement any changes to the cat’s environment a few days before the guests are to arrive, just to let the cat get accustomed to the new arrangement. 

How to calm down a scared cat? 

There are many reasons a cat could get scared, just like there are many ways a cat shows that they are scared. Some furs will hide in the furthest corner of the house and leave only when they don’t hear any noises, others will freeze in place, with dilated pupils, ears and whiskers pulled down, and their tails hidden under their bodies. There are also cats who turn their fear into curiosity and go to sniff the guests’ shoes, just to rub against their legs a few minutes later. And all of those reactions are perfectly normal! We, as Carers, have to be able to recognize our cats’ possible reactions and act accordingly to make sure our feline friends don’t live in fear the entire holiday season. Below are a few simple tricks that will help you calm down a scared cat: 


  • Give your cat control. When a cat is scared of whatever is going on around them, let them decide how to approach the situation. Do they prefer to hide in the bedroom? Make them a safe and comfy space there. Do they want to jump up on a high shelf and watch everyone from up top? It would be cool to make that possible. Never force your cat to face a situation they don’t want to be involved in - don’t bring them on your hands to meet the guests, and don’t block their way out of the room. Let your cat control the situation and give yourself the task of controlling the safety of the space - you don’t want your cat squeezing themselves under the shower and having difficulty getting out of there :) 

  • Create out-of-use spaces. We mentioned before that the bedroom is one of the best places to create a safe haven for your cat for Christmas time. You should have no problems moving their favorite cat house, bed, scratchers, bowls, or litter box there, making sure all the resources a cat needs are within their paws’ reach. It doesn’t mean that you have to shut your cat in the bedroom and don’t let them out - if you create a safe space for them there, they can walk around the house and retreat whenever they want to. 

  • Offer your cat emotional support. If you and your cat are really close, your presence and support will definitely help them fight their fears. Let’s imagine your cat is scared of the Christmas chaos and moves almost completely to live in the bedroom. What can you do? Be there with them and not just during the night. Spend time on your bed when you’re taking a break from chores. Make some tea, get a book and let your cat come to you, snuggle and purr. We always use this trick with our team cat Tosia who is the typical scaredy cat and we can say from experience - this method doesn’t fail us. 

  • Use pheromones and cat herbs. Think about how your cat reacts to catnip, valerian, and silvervine. Some cats go crazy and playful (which, on its own, is also a great way to distract from stressful situations), but for many cats, herbs in toys have a calming effect that makes them sleepy. Try to give your cat their favorite toy, like the KungFu, and see how they feel. And if you’re expecting catnip or valerian to not work, think about synthetic pheromones (like Feliway) that were created to calm cats down during Christmas, long trips, and other life changes.  

  • Keep positive reinforcement in mind. Cats learn through experience and if a certain event had positive outcomes, there is a chance they will react to the same stimuli more calmly the next time they come around. It’s good to use this element to get your cat used to some particular, recurring events that can cause stress and fear, e.g. vet visits, guests coming over, or pre-Christmas chaos. Reward your cat for being brave, for their positive reactions, and for being curious! If they start coming up to your guests after retreating at first, give them a treat and say a good word. Your cat will immediately get the cue that something good is going on and it’s not worth being scared of it in the future :)

  • If you’re looking for some free knowledge on cats, make sure to check out our blog for more tips and articles. And now, fabCat, tell us - how did the Christmas prep go for you this year? Did the cats get to the top of the Christmas tree already or are they still eyeing it up from afar and waiting for the best moment to attack? :)  


    From the entire myKotty team and our myKotty cats, we’d love to wish you, dear fabCats, a very merry, calm, happy Christmas. 🌲⭐️🎁 Let th is special time give you space to breathe and rest from all the worries of everyday life and bring you new energy for the upcoming year 2023 😊


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