Holiday Stress

Ah, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the holidays! They make this time of the year very special indeed. Of course, some people become very stressed as the holidays approach. And like some people, cats cat be over-stressed too.

Dogs often like the hustle and bustle of Christmas; the guests, the decorations, sweet smells of turkey and cookies... and a real tree in the house! But for the family cat, holiday activities and traditions can be over-powering. With the kitty's routine in shambles, too much noise, too much change and excitement, the family cat may long for a place of quiet escape.

The truth is, the holidays put a lot of stress on everyone involved, and that includes the family cat.

  • While a friendly cat may enjoy being petted and admired by an occasional new person, a shy or fearful cat will feel their once-safe home has been overrun by strangers.
  • With all the holiday cooking, you cat may get a few treats more than is good for the digestion. This can lead to gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting or diarrhea.
  • The increased demands on your time over the holidays may mean that kitty feel somewhat neglected.
  • Foreign objects. Your cat isn't going to understand just what the heck this tall green thing, sitting in the middle of the living room, is meant to do. Is it a toy? Food? Furniture to climb? Lacking your aesthetic tastes, your cat doesn't appreciate seasonal décor. Then there are the objects under it, as well as the other things around the house that mark the holiday season.
  • The average cat likes being where the action is – especially wrapping presents or hanging decorations. To a feline, these are like the circus has come to town. But the over-inquisitive cat may end up being chastised or scolded. Cats don't understand your frequent scolding so your emotional response can add to the cat's stress level.
  • The holidays often mean traveling for pets, which is a HUGE amount of stress for the whole family.
  • The other side of traveling during the holidays is putting the cat in a kennel. For cats, being moved from home to a strange place is like a catastrophe, no matter how nice the accommodations.

Easing the Holiday Stress on Your Cat

What can you do to ease the stress on you cat over the holidays?

  • Try to maintain the cat's normal routine
  • Stay consistent with feeding times and amounts
  • Do not give snacks of Christmas goodies.
  • Maintain his waking, eating and playtime schedules.
  • Provide a quiet room equipped with his favorite toys, a bowl full of fresh water, some food perhaps, and clothing or blankets with your scent on it. This gives your kitty a safe comfortable place to which he can retreat from the madness.
  • Be extra careful around the door if you have an indoor cat only. Make sure he doesn’t sneak out during all the companies comings and goings.
  • Be aware of the dangers Christmas trees and holiday decorations pose for your cat... and take precautions. See the article titled Have A Safe and Happy Catmas.
  • Pre-planning is an absolute must, whether by car or airline.
  • If you decide to board your cat, don't try to find a pet facility at the last minute. Research the facilities in your area and ask around.

Be prepared, and the holidays will be a happy and safe season for your and your cat.

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