Is your cat a party-pooper? Have you noticed that your cat does a disappearing act when you have your friends around?
Cats don't like change, look at it from their point of view:
- Routine is important to them. They like to know what is going to happen, and when, throughout the day.
- They are wary of strangers coming to the house and are likely to avoid them until they get to know them!
- Noise scares them, especially if it's sudden. Unpredictable laughter, shouting, loud music or fireworks could send them running.
- Different smells: a cat's sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so different-smelling food, perfumes, or even just different people's smells can confuse them.
All of which is a bit of a challenge if you like to entertain and are planning a party. So read on to find out how can you help your kitty cope?
How to help your kitty cope
Your cat's first reaction will be to hide away from something that is new or different. They will keep their distance and try to find somewhere they can feel safe. A little planning can also help them cope.
Unless it is an impromptu party, you will probably have at least a few days to prepare, both for your party and to help your cat adjust.
- If you are moving furniture around to get more space, do this a piece at a time so that changes are made slowly. This will apply after the party when you restore your room back to normal, too.
- Start playing your party music a little more each day, gradually increasing the volume so that your kitty can adjust slowly.
- Create more elevated spots for them so that they can find them before everyone arrives.
- Prepare another room for them with their favourite toys, a cosy bed, their food and water, and a litter tray, so that they have a self-contained safe retreat, but remember to keep the litter tray away from their food, as they like privacy when they go to the toilet! Allow them access a few days before the party in order to get used to the new space.
- FELIWAY Help! releases happy messages (calming feline pheromones) into your home for 7 days. Plug it into the room where your cat will spend their time during your party and it will help them adjust to the changes.
- Put a 'Please do not disturb' sign on the door to your cat's room so that they won't be disturbed by any party revellers.
- Try and keep your cat's routine as normal as possible around the party (e.g. try and keep your playtime schedule and when you feed your cat at their regular times)
During the party
Some cats may decide to investigate what is going on in their home, but others may just want to take themselves off until the celebrations are over.
- Allow your cat to decide whether they want to interact with your guests, or not. If they do want to, help your party guests to understand how to interact with your cat, e.g. let your cat come to them (ideally sat on the floor), let your cat sniff their outstretched hand first and, if they stay, can stroke their head/neck, but don't pick them up.
- If they want to be part of the action, make sure they have a high place to perch so that they can watch from a vantage point.
- Make sure you have some treats on hand that your guests can reward them with if they come near or help them to interact by having their favourite toys to hand.
- Watch your cat for signs that they are not happy and try and allow them to move away to a quieter part of the house or the room that you have prepared for them.
- If you think they would prefer to take themselves away from the action, make sure all windows and doors are closed in their room, just in case your cat tries to make an escape. A frightened cat can sometimes take a while to return.
- Give them their own party music, studies have shown that cats like music too, and it can have a soothing effect on them. A soothing Chopin might do the trick! It also might help to drown out the sounds of the revelry next door.
When the party's over
When party-goers have gone, it may be that you also want to just go to bed and leave the clearing up until morning! But remember there may be some dangers for your cat lurking around the party room, so it may be best to clear them up - or make sure your cat can't get into the room - before you finally go to bed.
Cats are inquisitive creatures and will want to investigate any leftover decorations like streamers and balloons. If your cat decides to explore while you are having an extra hour in bed the next morning, they may try to play with, or nibble on these, and could experience choking or intestinal problems, so make sure any hazards are removed as soon as possible.
Similarly with food and drink, clear away any leftover alcoholic drinks so that your cat cannot access them. Alcohol is dangerous if ingested by pets, as is chocolate, so be sure to check any reachable surfaces for remnants of party food and drinks. If your cat shows any signs of being unwell after your party, it's important to have them checked out by your vet.
Whilst parties can be overwhelming for your feline friend, with the right planning you can ensure your cat stays comfortable and serene, whilst also allowing you and your loved ones can unwind and have fun this festive season.