Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve are a time of meetings with loved ones, family dinners, parties, and fun.
How to ensure the comfort and safety of our cats during Holidays and New Year’s Eve? How to prepare for the arrival of guests at our home? Is it necessary to give up the Christmas tree completely? What to do with a cat if we leave home for Christmas? What should you do before New Year’s Eve?
Today you will learn how to keep your cat safe and healthy during Holidays & New Year’s Eve.
Celebrate Holidays & New Year’s Eve with your cat
I asked followers of my Instagram @apollo.fluffy.cat how they are going to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve with their cats this year. The survey shows that this year almost 40% of cat parents are going to spend the holiday season differently than usual.
For humans, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an amazing time, but unfortunately not really for our cats. This time is bringing many health risks and stresses. Cats love routine, and Christmas is a time when the whole house turns upside down. People get very busy, and then there is a colorful Christmas tree 🎄 that the cat cannot touch, and is so tempting with flashing lights and hanging decorations. Suddenly, there are guests in the house who want to touch and hug the kitten, or there is a problem of having to travel with the cat to a new place. Last but not least, we have the New Year period and the champagne New Year’s Eve, which brings a real cat’s nightmare – the noise of firecrackers and bangs of fireworks.
This article is based on my interview with Małgorzata Biegańska-Hendryk, a cat behaviorist and veterinary technician, which I published on my blog in Polish few days ago. I didn’t feel confident enough to translate the whole interview from Polish into English, but I allowed myself to paraphrase a few things.
Christmas 🎄 is getting closer and more and more people are starting to decorate their homes. Christmas decorations, although beautiful, can be quite a threat to our cats. What to avoid:
- Poinsettia (also called Christmas star) – extremely poisonous to cats.
- Mistletoe – the spherical fruit that is attractive to cats is also highly toxic.
- Live Christmas trees – some cats like to gnaw at its needles, which can irritate the digestive tract. Besides, a fairly wide group of cats shows an allergic reaction when in contact with fir.
- Glass baubles – can break and injure your pet.
- Angel hair – can damage the digestive system when eaten.
- Christmas lights – Some animals, especially young ones, can not only chew cables from lighting but even chew the light bulbs themselves.
You can safely decorate your home and Christmas with dried natural decorations – such as pine cones or dried fruit. They are safe for cats and most of all eco-friendly.
Christmas and Thanksgiving food
Feeding the cat with anything that comes from the human table is unacceptable! Human food can simply harm tour cat’s fairly delicate digestive tract, e.g.:
- all types of bulbs – can cause liver damage,
- cocoa and dark chocolate – can disrupt the respiratory system and heart rhythm,
- raisins and grapes – highly poisonous,
- xylitol – consumption can lead to the death of the pet.
There are many proper ways to please your cat with healthy treats. You can even make them by yourself! Check out my article to learn: How to make jerky treats for dogs and cats at home.
The guests are coming
Guests are another problem related to holidays. This issue corresponds precisely to your cat’s personal character. Is it shy? Is it brave? Does it know those people already? – those are questions that you need to ask yourself in order to make your cat feel safe.
When you have an anxious cat or one who does not like strangers, it is best to prepare a separate room for him, in which we will gather all the necessary resources in advance: food, water, his litter box, his scratching post, a favorite blanket, and a few toys. You can also connect a diffuser with silencing pheromones a few days earlier, which will help put your cat into a state of relaxation.
If the cat does not want to leave the safe room – do not take it out of there against its will. It is important that only the cat parent or other person the cat knows and likes enter the room. No strangers, because it can break his sense of security. A cat’s room is such an undisturbed asylum in which the pet should feel good and safe.
5 golden rules for your guests
There are a few rules that your guests should follow to make the cat feel comfortable while you have guest comming to your place:
1. First of all, never force cats to anything. If your cat isn’t interested in contact with guests, it must not be forced into it in any way. Under no circumstances should the cat be taken out of hiding or forced into contact with a child or other visitor.
2. Most cats do not like picking up and the loss of contact with the ground is an extremely stressful situation for them. So, if we are not dealing with a cat that likes to be carried in arms, it is strictly forbidden to lift a cat by strangers.
3. It is the cat who has to come by himself, smell the new human, and decide whether he wants closer contact or not. In this matter, your cat’s opinion should be respected, because the pet has a full and inalienable right to it. After all, the cat is in the house, and guests should follow the rules.
4. Remind your guests (especially childrens) that your cat is not a plush toy – it is a living creature that is capable of feeling pain and fear. This means that if your cat is in pain or stress, then he can react with biting and scratching – and is entitled to `do so.
5. Last, but not least, it’s important to tell your guests not to feed your cat with human food under any cimcurstanced. Food for humans can be dangerous to a cat’s health and life.
Traveling for holidays
Most of the cats are bound to their territory, and they can handle traveling pretty bad. They need from 4 to 8 weeks to acclimatize properly to a new place.
If you never traveled with your cat before, it is definitely better to leave him at home, in the care of a family member, a friend, or a professional pet sitter (remember about the proper contract with the petsitter). If a cat stays in its own home and the only change is a change of human, it will be much less stressful for him than the change of the environment.
Cats that travel regularly with their cat parents are a whole new story. Globetrotter cats operate according to the principle “It doesn’t matter where it matters with whom” and the presence of a cat parent becomes a guarantee of safety. It is safer to take them with you than to live them at your place, but this should be pretty obvious to you 😉
Visiting a house with resident pets
When you visit someone who has pets that have never been in contact with your cat, the travel problem can be significantly more serious.
Cats aren’t as easy going as dogs. A trip to an unfamiliar place and contact with an unfamiliar animal is double stress for cats. The cat’s socialization with other pets takes them the same time as getting used to the new space – 4 to 8 weeks (but in special cases, it may take even longer). It is a long, slow process, divided into stages, which usually does not even make sense to start during the holiday season.
If you have no other choice and you must trvel with your cat to a home with resident pets, it is best to ask the hosts for a separate room for you and your cat. It is also good to clean it intensively to reduce the smells of residential pets. In the room you have to provide all necessary resources in advance: food, water, his litter box, his scratching post, a favorite blanket, and a few toys.
New Year’s Eve
The end of the holiday season is not the end of stressful situations for cats. Immediately after Christmas, the New Year period begins, which means loud parties, bangs of firecrackers, and fireworks.
How can you help your cat get through the New Year period? Try the methods from the list below that best suit your cat’s character and behavior:
- Prepare a safe place that your cat likes e.g. inside the wardrobe or space under the bed.
- Close and cover the windows so that the pet is not disturbed by flashes and shots.
- Play the radio or quiet music earlier, to slightly muffle the sounds of shots from outside the window (check out my post about Music for cats),
- Feed the cat earlier than usual and the stress does not deprive him of his appetite.
- If the cat hides – do not force him out, just give him time to leave the hiding place when he feels safe.
- I the cat is looking for contact – pay attention to him: pet him and play with him to distract from what is happening around him. Some cats are so focused on a play that they don’t even notice the New Year’s cannonade.
- If you do decide to take a calming supplement, start introducing it in advance. Avoid products containing Acepromazine, because it is a very strong substance that makes the pet fully aware of what is around him, but he cannot move. This causes an even greater increase of stress and horror for your pet.
Explosions of firecrackers and the roar of fireworks are dangerous for our pets, wild animals, and also people. Playing at the expense of others, especially vulnerable animals, is no fun!
Responsible cat care
Each of us celebrates Christmas 🎄 and New Year’s Eve with a cat differently, but we should remember the needs and safety of our fluffy friends. If we act carefully and prepare everything in advance, we will save the cat from suffering, and ourselves a lot of trouble.
Responsible cat care is inextricably linked to observing your cat’s behavior. It allows you to better understand character and habits of your cat. Thanks to this, you can take better care of the needs, comfort, and safety of the cat not only during holidays but throughout the year!
Let me know how you make sure your cat feels safe and comfortable during this special holiday season? Do you spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve with your cat at your home, or maybe you are going to travel and visit your family?