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Holiday Survival Skills for the Family Feline

catWelcoming guests into your home is a wonderful – but sometimes stressful — part of celebrating the holidays. Pets, especially cats, can feel the strain as much as humans, but there are several steps you can take to help kitty cope with the excitement of those bearing good tidings.

Understand your cat
Remember that cats, unlike dogs, are not pack animals. While being sociable is inherent in a dog, cats are generally solitary hunters. Don’t expect your cat to run to the door and greet your guests with a brush against their leg or a friendly purr.

In fact, your normally friendly cat may be intimidated by a room filled with unfamiliar sights and smells. Make sure Kitty has a safe, quiet place set aside just for him where he can retreat when the festivities become too boisterous. Keep a blanket, fresh water and a familiar object there for him. It may also be a perfect time to introduce a new toy or treat as a stress-reducing distraction.

Exercise basic precautions

Make sure all pets are wearing collars and proper ID tags. With guests arriving and departing, doors can be inadvertently left open. Tell your visitors beforehand that you have a cat, and not to leave the door open!

Resist the urge to tie a pretty bow around Kitty’s neck. Holiday bows, while eliciting collective exclamations of "how cute!", are dangerous. The ribbon can become tangled or snagged in a number of objects, from a paw to a door. Your local Best Friends Pet Resort has many pet-friendly, safe accessories to show off your pet’s holiday spirit.

Remind overnight guests to store their medications and toiletries in a safe spot where a curious cat cannot get to them.

Kids and kitties
Be sure children invited into your home are aware that you have a cat, and have been familiarized with proper feline treatment. Children must know that petting and playing with the cat is done solely on the cat’s terms. Boundaries must be respected and the cat should never be chased. Additionally, a swishing tail can be very tempting to a small child; don’t let the little ones pull Kitty’s tail (or ears). Ideally, a parent should be supervising their child, but don’t hesitate to interfere if you see a potential problem.

You may also consider teaching your cat that children are not to be feared. Introduce them to each other in a quiet, calming manner, holding the child’s hand to show him proper petting techniques. If the cat is cooperating, continue stroking the cat in a slow, nurturing manner, constantly speaking in encouraging tones. Once the cat shows signs that he has had enough, end the session immediately.

Most importantly, it is completely acceptable to insist that guests not tease, yell at, feed or grope your cat. In fact, it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to see to Kitty’s welfare.

Holiday treats
Well-meaning guests may wish to get into Kitty’s good graces by feeding her special holiday treats. If possible, feed the cat before the guests arrive so she won’t be hungry. Remind guests not to offer "people" food to your pets. And have some of your cat’s favorite treats on hand – just in case.