Is it any surprise that The Grinch has some catlike airs about him? While we’re excitedly looking forward to a season of merriment, good eats, gatherings with loved ones, and that magic Christmas feeling in the air, most cats aren’t. Here are a few reasons why.
“Things aren’t the way they usually are.”
Despite their inquisitive nature, cats find comfort in a consistent routine and predictable environment. The days leading up to the holidays bring about significant changes to their surroundings in a short period of time—moving furniture around, decorating the Christmas tree, ornaments everywhere, music, strange people coming and going… Make the transition easier by stretching your holiday preparations over several weeks and giving your cat time to adjust. Reward them with treats, toys and plenty of love to help reinforce a positive association as you add new things to their environment.
“Oh, this is shiny. Let’s kill it.”
Most Christmas ornaments are about the size of a cat’s natural prey, such as mice and birds. Considering they tend to be shiny, sparkly and dangle from a tree, your cat may understandably find them very interesting. Keep fragile or sentimental ornaments out of reach, high up the tree. Use pet-friendly decorations for the rest and avoid food-based ornaments (such as candy canes), as well as icicles, garlands and artificial snow, which may get stuck in your pet’s digestive tract if swallowed.
“Let’s go check out what’s up that tree.”
Cats are famous for climbing up (or pouncing onto) Christmas trees. Maybe they see it as an oversized cat tree, or perhaps it feels like an appealing vantage point. While such trees may seem sturdy, not being rooted in the ground makes them easy to topple over. Use a fishing line or thin cord to secure your Christmas tree to the wall.
“It smells funny.”
Felines have a keen sense of smell, and the holidays’ potpourri of scents can quickly become overwhelming to them. Between the distinctive fragrance of holiday cooking and a natural Christmas tree, the sharp smell of cleaning products and guests wearing perfume or cologne, it can be a lot to process. Consider using unscented cleaning products and turning on your range hood while preparing meals.
“Humans are loud.”
The more, the merrier … but also, the louder! If you’re having guests, provide a safe, quiet place where your cat can escape all the noise. Make sure your cat has access to water, food, a litter box, a suitable scratching surface and toys—and maybe hide a few treats throughout the room as rewards.
Not having to show up for work, going to sleep late, staying in bed and eating meals at odd times can mess up your internal clock. But your cat still expects food and fresh water at the usual time. Whenever possible, try to stick to their routine. Alternately, consider setting up an automatic feeder and water fountain.
“Your stress is stressing me out.”
There's a lot to be stressed about between last-minute purchases, meal preparation, gift wrapping, leaving for celebrations, or getting the house in order before having guests over. However, your cat can pick on this anxiety and not know what to do about it. Even when it feels like you have a million things to do, take a few minutes to play or snuggle with your cat. It will make them feel more relaxed … and likely you too!