It’s that time of the year again! The holidays are here; and while you may be excited about spending time with friends and family, the stress of the holidays may have your cat wishing it was January already. But there are a few simple things you can do to help keep kitty calm this holiday season. Here are some ways to reduce your cat’s stress and signs to watch out for in case the holidays are getting to be a bit much.
Can you turn the volume down?
Whether it’s an in-person family feast or a virtual party, holiday gatherings can be noisy. Providing a safe, quiet space for your cat to retreat to can help distract them from the celebrations. Make the space comfortable and familiar by bringing in their favorite bed, toys, and scratching surface. Don’t forget water, feed and, of course, the litter box. Some treats can also help make it a positive and fun experience.
Stop what you’re doing, it’s dinner time
While you’re busy preparing your turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, don’t ignore those insistent meows at your feet. Keeping to your cat’s normal routine as much as possible will help reduce their stress levels. This includes feeding your cat the same nutritious meals they’re used to, at the same time as usual. A change in diet can cause digestive issues, so keep your cat’s tummy happy by sticking with their usual dinner and resist the temptation to give them a holiday snack.
Hello? Where are you?
The holidays are a busy time, which can mean that you are away from home — and your cat —more than usual. Everyone knows dogs can suffer from separation anxiety, but did you know that some cats also become anxious when their pet parents leave the house? According to PetMD.com, cats are more predisposed to developing separation anxiety if they are female or indoor cats, the only pet, or they experience a change in routine. To help prevent separation anxiety, try providing activities to keep them occupied while you’re out; and don’t make leaving or returning to the house a big deal.
The not-so-sweet smells of the holidays
We’ve all stood next to someone who sprayed on a little too much perfume or cologne. Now imagine living in a house that smells like that. Cats, like their big-cat cousins, have an exceptionally sensitive sense of smell with an estimated 200 million odor-sensitive cells lining their nasal passages. So, while you’re cleaning and freshening up the house for the holidays, consider using unscented products that are a little gentler on your cat’s nose.
Signs your cat is having a stressful holiday
The signs of stress in cats can be subtle, but there are a few cues you can pick up on to know that your cat is not feeling oh-so-thankful about the holidays. One of the first (and most noticeable) signs of stress in cats is urinating outside the litter box. Excessive grooming, not eating, and meowing more than usual are some other signs that your cat could be feeling anxious. If you suspect your cat has severe stress, talk to your veterinarian, as there are medications or supplements that might help. The signs of stress can also be signs of illness, so it’s important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if it seems like it isn’t just holiday stress that’s the issue.
Remember that cats can sense when we are stressed, so by taking time out to relax, you’re also helping your cat make it through the holidays with less stress. Finding 10 minutes for cuddles and playtime with your cat’s favorite toy will help both of you zone out for a little while and escape the pandemonium of the holidays.