The holidays can be an extremely busy time with holiday parties, last-minute shopping, family members visiting, or maybe you are leaving home for the holidays—it can all add up to our cats feeling neglected, stressed, ignored, and depressed. And some cats even get sick as a result. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, we can make the holidays a time when our cats feel included, comforted, relaxed, and part of the family. Here’s how to create the best holiday for your cat and keep her safe and happy during the holiday season.
To make the holidays a special time for your cat, there are some simple things you can do to help her through all the excitement, reverie, noise and stress. Simple changes in your home, like putting up the Christmas tree or rearranging the furniture to accommodate the tree, can mean something new, different, and stressful for your cat. Small changes to their environment can cause undue anxiety for them. Be aware of the impact the holidays may have on them and be extra attentive and vigilant to their needs. The following tips will reduce any emotional and physical stress your cat may experience and will help your cat have a much happier, merrier holiday!
Provide a Safe Place, Off Limits to Guests
If you are planning on hosting holiday parties, having friends over for dinners, or having overnight guests stay with you—you will want to provide a quiet and safe retreat or “safe place” where your cat can escape to. Designate a specific room for her, where no guests are coming and going, and keep the door closed with a sign posted “For cat’s only, please don’t enter.” Make sure your guests know it’s off limits and lay some ground rules for visitors to keep your cat safe. Make the room comfortable for her or him by putting cozy cat beds on the floor or atop the bed, and add a couple inside your closet. Play quiet music and put food, water, and litter box in the room, so she knows this is her room for awhile. Be sure to keep the litterbox a distance from the food and water.
Keep Routines Normal
During the holiday festivities, try to keep your cat’s schedule as normal as possible. Keep feeding times the same morning and night, keep their litter boxes clean, and give them more play time with you. Make sure they get enough exercise by using teaser wands or feather wands, red laser lights and fishing rod-type toys. Keep them engaged with rubber balls, felt mice, and electronic toys. And socialize with them as often as time permits.
Holiday Shopping at Home
Instead of going out shopping at the retail brick and mortar or big-box stores and spending more hours away from home, consider doing your shopping online at home with kitty on your lap or next to you on the couch. Make a hot chocolate, hot-spiced cider, or spiked eggnog, and sit back and relax, and invite your cat onto your lap to keep you company during your holiday shopping at home.
Holiday Gift Shopping for Your Cat!
Don’t forget to include your cat in your holiday gift shopping! Amazon and Chewy have many great toys for cats they will love and are inexpensive. Consider catnip mice, the Cat Tracks Toy, the Turbo Scratcher, Colorful Springs, and the Fun Tunnel. Enhance their everyday experience with cat ladders to climb, cat condos to play inside and hide, or hanging pillow trapezes. And for extra comfort treat your cat to a cozy cat bed like the faux fur cat bed that comes in dozens of colors, or the handmade all wool felt cat bed cave that will make a beautiful addition to your home decor and your cat will thank you.
The Fun of Unwrapping Gifts
Cats love paper—hiding in it, rolling in it, and playing with it. Crumple your unwrapped paper into balls and toss it for them. Keep empty boxes open for them to jump inside and curl up. Watch out for ribbon and string, keep anything ingestible off of the floor and in the garbage right away. Designate a paper sack to throw ribbon and string into immediately – let the family know to put all string and ribbon into it.
Christmas Tree Dangers
If you have a live tree, watch out that your cat does not drink the water in the tree pan. Cover it well and make sure that your cat cannot access the water. My cat used to pull apart the tree skirt to get to the water, then she would be sick for days after drinking it. Plus, she would play with the low-hanging ornaments, knocking them off the branches and breaking them. Keep your tree cat-proof by hanging any breakable ornaments up on the higher limbs, and put the unbreakable ornaments on the bottom branches. Hide all electrical cords too–you can purchase cord covers at your local hardware store, or on Amazon and Staples.
Make Your Holidays Safer for Your Cat
- Table Scraps – Watch the table scraps! Be sure not to allow cats on counter tops or leave your dining tables unattended for your cat to jump up and eat the scraps. This is one sure way for your cat to get sick, and even end up in the emergency veterinary hospital. Remove all dishes, scrape them into a contained garbage can with a closed door, before leaving the plates in the sink or put dishes into the dishwasher right away.
- Toxic Foods – Make sure to keep cats away from chocolate and other toxic foods. Visit this list to know more about the top dangers in the home and the most toxic plants for cats, then keep these out of reach or behind closed doors. Turkey skin, gravy, meat fat, crab, fish, etc., can be way too rich for cats and cause severe indigestion, and turkey skin and turkey can even cause pancreatitis, which can be life threatening – and send your cat right to the emergency hospital, so be sure not to leave food scraps out. Many foods that are healthier for people, are extremely unhealthy and toxic for cats. Just feed your cat the same cat food you always do—no human food—don’t change their diet in any way during the holidays. Keeping the same routine, including food, is good for cats.
- Be Careful of Candles – Make sure not to leave your cat alone with burning wax candles. There are battery operated safe alternatives now. I love these battery operated candles from Amazon that have a beautiful long-lasting light, are cheap, and are safe for pets. In addition, be careful of potpourris, especially liquid potpourris that contain essential oils that can be toxic to cats if ingested. They can cause serious damage to your cat’s mouth, skin and eyes, and wreck havoc on their health.
- Watch Out for Holiday Plants – Keep Easter lilies—lilies of any kind, poinsettia, mistletoe, and other flowering plants, completely out-of-reach of your cats. They are extremely toxic and many are deadly—lilies are a death sentence. Not to scare you, but yes, to scare you, you have 48 hours maximum after your cat ingests lilies to have any hope for an effective emergency room treatment, and their kidneys and liver can be permanently impaired, or they can be beyond help. Give lilies to your neighbors that don’t have pets and keep all of these holiday “live” plants outside or give them to your relatives as long as they don’t have pets. I buy fake poinsettias from Michaels to decorate during the holidays, and they are beautiful. Here is the list of the most toxic plants for cats.
- Watch Out for Holiday Decorating – Watch out for tinsel and any holiday decorations that your cat could ingest. These can cause intestinal blockages that can require surgery. Just like with children, keep anything that is ingestible off of the ground and vacuum and mop often.
- Remove All Trash Before Leaving Home – Be sure to take all trash outside before you leave for the morning or for the day. Remove anything that your cat can consume like ribbon, string, tinsel, or sparkly anything, wrapping and packaging that could tempt them, and food scraps and bones that could make them very sick. Pack it up and take it outside.
- Unplug – Unplug all Christmas tree lights and holiday lights before leaving for the day or night. Cats can chew on the electrical cords. You can buy plastic cord covers that will protect the cord and protect your cat too, many types are available on Amazon.
Have All Emergency Numbers Visible
- Have your veterinarian’s number handy on the fridge, in your cell, and in your computer.
- Have a 24/7 emergency veterinary hospital number available – or two, in case one is full.
- ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 1-888-426-4435 (A fee may apply)
- Make sure your cat is microchipped. Microchips reunite families with pets, so make sure your cat has proper identification with your current contact information, in worst case scenario. This is an inexpensive, affordable way to ensure your cat can be returned to you if they escape or get lost outside.
Keep your holidays happy, merry and trouble-free by keeping your cat safe and avoiding the risks that can come with this time of year. And don’t forget to include some gifts and stocking stuffers for them too, they will thank you!
Happy holidays to you and your fur family!