How do I keep Christmas as stress-free as possible for my cat?


From a cat’s perspective, Christmas is a chaotic time of noise and routine disruption, with often no place to escape the bedlam. Cats are creatures of habit, thrive on structure and routine, and extremely sensitive to change. Here are some of the challenges your cat might face during the Christmas holidays.
  • Changes to your cat’s feeding, toileting, and sleeping areas — often, extra houseguests and the obligatory Christmas tree and decorations will require your cat’s feeding, sleeping, and toileting areas to be moved.
     
  • Disruptions to regular feeding times — during the holiday period, your cat’s usual Feeding times may become very disordered.
     
  • A constant stream of unfamiliar people — friendly and confident cats may enjoy meeting new people, but shy and fearful cats will see their once safe haven overrun with strangers.
     
  • Increased noise — Christmas is a time of fun and parties, which is often associated with loud music and raised voices. All of this extra, unfamiliar noise can cause a great deal of unrest to a cat.

Five steps to minimise stress

By taking a cat’s eye view, and anticipating the potential problems, your cat can have a stress-free festive season.

  1. Consider how your cat’s routine and environment could change over the festive period, and institute the necessary changes well in advance so your cat can get used to this change of routine.
     
  2. Unless your cat is the resident party animal, you will need to create a safe haven that he can retreat to whenever he feels anxious. A room in a quieter part of the house should be reserved for this purpose. Place familiar items in the room, such as his bed, food, water, litter tray, scratching post, and toys. Plug in a Feliway diffuser to aid relaxation and increase his sense of security.
     
  3. Maintain your cat’s normal feeding schedule and stay consistent with food types and amounts.
     
  4. It’s easy to overlook your cat’s needs when you’re busy shopping, cooking, and entertaining. Set aside some quality time every day to give your cat some extra TLC and a stimulating play session.
     
  5. A house filled with unfamiliar people can be very stressful to your cat. Move him into his safe haven prior to the arrival of your guests. Close the door and put a sign outside politely requesting that guests keep the door closed during their visit.