Your Cat's Christmas Stress
This is the time of year when people are hustling and bustling, and celebrating the holidays with friends and family. There’s all the shopping for presents, going to parties and unexpected guests dropping by that keeps us busy. Sometimes, people are too busy to take notice of how all of these changes are affecting our cats.
Some people celebrate by putting up a Christmas tree and decorating their house. All of these shiny decorations and ornaments on a tree full of lights are beautiful to look at, but they can pose a danger to your cat.
Cats are drawn to things that sparkle, strings or ribbons and let’s not forget the wires from the lights on the tree. You need to make the holidays safe for your cat by thinking about what tempts them. If it is harmful to them, leave it out when decorating. Keep in mind what you cats like to get into and, for his own safety, keep them out of his reach.
It’s natural for cats to climb trees. The first Christmas I had with Monkeyface, I had my 6’ tree up in the corner ready for me to decorate the next day. That morning Monkey wasn’t following me into the kitchen to get his breakfast. I looked all over the house, under the bed, in the closets, and cupboards. I checked to see if he was locked in the bathroom, as I always kept the door shut. No. My heart started pounding. Hoping that he didn’t get outside, I checked the yard. No Monkey. By this time, I was fit to be tied. Then I heard a trill. Then another one. It was coming from the empty Christmas tree. I looked in between the thick branches to find my sweet Maine Coon hanging on for dear life.
Which brings me around to feline stress. Did you know that cats can feel your stress? Of course, if you think about it, they sense when you’re upset, sick or in a happy mood anytime, so why wouldn’t they feel your stress at Christmas? When your life is scattered all topsy turvy, chances are theirs is, too.
When guests come around, let them know that the cat needs to set the rules. If he wants attention, he will come to them. When he has had enough, let him go his own way. This should be how you handle any visitation at anytime of the year, but the cat will be even more sensitive to over-attentive guests due to the changes that the holidays bring.
Provide a safe place away from all of the noise. This gives the cat a place in which to retreat. Trust me, he’ll be better off in his own little space away from the attention that he isn’t used to, or doesn’t want. He’ll come out if and when he feels comfortable with all the goings-on.
Holidays are all about love, so spread it over your cat. I almost never give my cats treats, but around this time of the year, I put a few healthy ones in with their food. They don’t know that they are the boring, healthy ones; they just know that they have been given something different. I also give them lots of new cat toys. This takes care of two issues: it makes them feel special (which we all know they are), and it draws their attention to the right toys instead of playing with that ornament the Aunt Mable gave you.
I don't know about your cats, but my mine are my family, and as such they deserve nice gifts for the joy they give me all year round. Now, I could go all out and spend too much money for things that they have no interest in, or I can use my imagination and a $20 bill.
First, I will start off my saying that, like children, if you put all of the new toys out to play with on Christmas morning, chances are they will become get bored with them by Christmas night. My advice is to hold back, only giving them a few toys at one time, until they get bored with them. Then replace them with some of the new toys that you have in reserve. That way, it's Christmas all over again.
Some of the toys you can pick up in the local pet shop. However, they usually jack the prices sky high to cover their overhead. That being the case, the only time that I go into the pet shop is to look, not buy. I get the best ideas there.
Your next option is the Internet. Now, there are a lot of places out there that charge just as much as the pet shops do, but if you scour the pet outlets on the Net, chances are you will find deals. Two stores that I shop at are Amazon, and Chewy.
Then there are toys that you can make with a little imagination and a lot of love. I suggest that you watch your cat play. Do they like to stalk, pounce and jump high in the air like my Mimi? Or are they lazy cats who only grab the toy from right in front of them, and half-heartedly bat it around, like my BoBo?
For cats like Mimi, a ping pong ball works great to help get their energy out. Bounce it and see them go for it. The higher you bounce the ball the higher they will jump. A substitute for a ball is a cork. I keep several on hand just in case she gets too rambunctious and it goes under the stove or refrigerator. I had both of the appliances replaced last year and was slightly embarrassed when the installer found all of the corks that had gotten away from the cat.
Another good toy is a lazor pointer. Now you can get them from any pet store, but why not use your flashlight on your cell phone.
BoBo is a bit different. He's older and has always been a lazy hunter. For this type of feline, you need
to be resourceful. You may be able to entice them with a feather attached to a stick, straw or anything that is tubular in shape. Bo even goes after the lazor, but only if you point it on the floor right in front of him (never point it in their face). Just as long as he doesn't have to get up, he'll play.
As much as possible, keep the normal routine. When it’s time to eat, feed them, regardless of your friends in the other room. Take a few minutes each day to play with them.
Like us, they have ways of showing that they are stressed out. The two most obvious ways are eating or urinating irregularly. Feline stress can lead to illnesses, so beware of strange behaviors and contact your vet as soon as you notice them.
Make this holiday safe and stress free for both you and your cat. Take the time to cuddle with them. It will not only be good for the cat, but it will sooth your holiday stress as well.
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