With the Christmas season now in full swing, we’re all busy celebrating, welcoming visitors, spending time away from home, decorating the house, and adding plenty of excitement & energy to the day! December is often a busy time of the year for many of us and it’s easy to forget that all these changes can leave our cats feeling anxious and worried.
As cat owners, it’s important we don’t forget about our feline friends and make sure they too can be happy and comfortable at home during the silly season! With that being said, we don’t want them being so happy that they think we have planted a giant new toy (Christmas tree) in the living room for them to climb and play with... So, let’s chat about how you and your cat can BOTH enjoy Christmas this year!
Your Cat’s Safe Space
With so many changes and movement around the home between Christmas decorations, a big tree, and welcoming visitors, remember to keep your cat’s safe space exactly how it always is, or create them a safe space if you don’t already have one.
A safe space is somewhere your cat can retreat to for some quiet time. They normally like small dark spaces where they can snuggle up and forget about all their worries! Keeping this space familiar, unchanged, and quiet is key to creating a safe retreat for your cat. A safe space will typically be in a bedroom or study they are familiar with, away from the action of the living room and regular visitors. You may also want to consider supplying a litter tray and water in this area so the cat can feel safe without having to leave if needed.
You’ll no doubt be welcoming more friends and family in bigger groups to your home during December. All of this additional excitement and energy around the house may cause your cat to freak out!
Of course, you know your cat best, so if you have a sociable cat, let them do their thing. But if your cat isn’t comfortable with strangers, don’t let your visitors force your cat to interact with them.
The best way to make sure your cat is comfortable with the new visitors is to establish some rules:
Politely let your visitors know on arrival whether your cat is sociable or not.
Let them know if you would prefer for them to just leave the cat be all together.
Explain that the cat will come to them if the cat wants to.
Keep the cat’s safe space off-limits.
Remind your visitors to be careful entering/exiting the home to avoid a runaway!
It’s important to make these rules especially clear to children who can often be very excited and force their excitement onto cats.
Going Away on Holidays
Another common cause of stress for cats during the Christmas period is their owners going away on holidays. A trip outside of the house to a cattery can be a stressful time for your cat. If possible, try to keep consistency with the cattery you always use so your cat can be familiar with their new location. Remember to take some bedding and blankets from home to keep your cat comfortable while you’re not there, and don’t forget to take their favourite toy! Choosing a cattery that provides a unit for each separate cat is important to keep your cat feeling safe and comfortable.
Better yet, you could look into a pet/house sitter! Finding a family member or friend who is happy to stay at your home or visit your cat daily can be another great option as opposed to taking them to a cattery. This way they get to stay in the familiarity of their own home with their creature comforts. Having your pet sitter visit several times before you go away will make sure your cat feels comfortable with this new person in their home.
Take It One Step Further
If your furry friend typically gets stressed during this period of the year, think about getting a feline pheromone spray or diffuser. Your local vet or pet store will have these and it may help to settle and calm your cat during stressful situations/periods of time.
Defending Your Christmas Tree
Okay, we’ve covered some steps on keeping your cat happy, but what about defending your beautifully decorated Christmas tree?!
This is a common challenge amongst cat owners, some have accepted defeat and don’t bother with a tree, some of us are still persevering! Here are some tips to cat proof your tree this Christmas.
Make Sure It’s Sturdy! Secure your tree at the base with a sturdy, heavy, and strong base to prevent it from toppling over.
Keep The Decorations High! Keep your baubles and decorations out of paws’ reach by placing them higher up on your Christmas tree… yes you may have to sacrifice having a perfectly decorated tree! It’s for your own sanity, trust us!
Avoid Glass Decorations! For obvious reasons, if your cat happens to find a bauble to play with, save the mess and keep their paws safe by not having glass decorations that have the potential to fall and smash.
Turn The Lights Off! In case your cat happens to chew on the wire or tangle themselves in the lights, make sure you always turn the lights off when you’re not around, as well as overnight.
Avoid Tinsel! Not only is this a decoration cats are attracted to, but it is also highly dangerous and causes serious harm to your cat if it’s digested. Best to avoid it altogether.
Wrap The Base… Try wrapping the base of your tree with aluminium foil, cats hate the feeling of this on their feet and it may be enough to detract them from climbing it.
Spray The Tree! Scented sprays such as citrus spray can be overpowering to your cat’s sensitive nose and discourage them from climbing the branches. DO NOT spray it on your cat, spray it on the tree.
Provide Better Perches! Perhaps your cat loves the idea of climbing and accessing a high vantage point? Their very own climbing tree with platforms to laze around on could be the perfect alternative to climbing your tree!
Christmas is a time for us all to relax and enjoy, so don’t forget to make sure your cat is also feeling relaxed and enjoying the festivities too! We hope you have found our Christmas Kitty tips useful. All of us from TassieCat wish you and your furry friends a very Merry Christmas!