For us 2-legged folk, Christmas festivities are often waited on with impatience (supermarkets are the worst!). But the festive season is not always appreciated by our feline friends. Why exactly is that?
December is a unique month in so many ways - not only does a large portion of the world celebrate Christmas, but there are usually so many other events in the lead-up to it that have us all running around in a flurry. It's really no surprise then that the disruption to our own lives can impact our feline friends.
So what happens to our cats during this time?
Why your cat may not love Christmas
It's not uncommon for many households to host more events during December or go out more often. Families with children may also be more focused on the little ones. With fewer playmates around, or family members distracted with other people or activities, it can be harder for our kitties to receive their playtime/cuddle fix.
So, if you were a cat, what would you do? Seek out alternate entertainment, right? Enter, the Christmas tree! *cue groan.
Christmas trees: it's a love-hate thing
Christmas trees are the quintessential Christmas symbol. Kids love to decorate them, parents love to (ahem) vacuum up all the dried needles - it's a win-win situation really! Except that they're also a love-hate relationship for cats.
Pretty baubles and twinkling lights attract anyone really so it's no surprise that cats see Christmas trees as the dream toy! Trouble is, tumbling trees, smashing baubles and even electricity sparks tend to frighten and pose a danger to our fur friends. Nor are pet parents usually too pleased with the outcome!
Our cats can read changes in behaviour, so when things go wrong they're more than likely to know. They may also be reprimanded for bringing the tree down. This can create unwanted stress for everyone involved, and your cat may learn to associate anxiety with this time of year.
What happened to my happy place?
During the Christmas period, families often get together. But the arrival of new people, long meals, possibly lots of children, and all the to-ing and fro-ing can disturb your cat. After all, it's never nice to have your normal environment moved about or subjected to lots of noise without your consent.
Faced with this disturbance in their own place of comfort, your cat can become stressed.
Helping your cat during the festive season
Christmas is always a busy time, but make sure you take the time to pay your cat a little bit of extra attention. Cuddles and/or treats first thing in the morning or just before bed will go a long way to help soothe any stress.
Here are some other ways you can help your cat this Christmas.
A space of their own
When it all gets a bit too much for your cat, it's important to have a spot where they can escape to in peace and quiet. Make this space cosy with their favourite blankets and/or toys, include a cardboard box or two, ensure that the room is warm, and let them be until they're ready to reappear again.
If you have a snuggly cat, they may want to brave the noise at times to get a well-deserved stroke, but they will also want to feel safe and protected. In this case, place a cardboard box or two around in such a way that they feel inaccessible.
It might also be worth considering where you have your Christmas lunch or dinner in your home. Christmas crackers are jolly good fun for us, but just think how stressful they would be to your cat.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...
It can be a little tricky sometimes, but try placing your Christmas tree somewhere where your cat can't get to it (these nifty tricks might help). Alternatively, you might like to decorate it using items your cat is less interested in. If all else fails, you can place a suitable bauble or two attached to a non-toxic plant for your cat to play with - it just may distract them for long enough!
Children and cats
If you are someone with children, or know that a number of children will be in your home over the holidays, it's possible that your cat may feel overwhelmed. And no one enjoys a scratch or bite for Christmas!
As soon as any young guests begin to arrive, talk to them about what scares your cat (you can even ask them about their own fears to help them relate). Ensure they understand that sudden movements can frighten the animal, and how important it is for your cat to rest. Let them know that if a cat feels attacked, they may lash out and scratch or bite in order to defend themselves.
Pheromone sprays for your cat
You may also like to consider the use of a pheromone spray, which can have a calming effect on your cat. You can find this natural solution as a diffuser or spray in pet stores, pharmacies or at your vet's.
How does your cat cope with Christmas?