10 Tips to Help Your Cat Enjoy a Stress-Free Christmas

Cat in a halo of Christmas lights on a dark background

There are a number of annual festivities that can be problematical for our cats and Christmas is one of them.

It comes with lots of hustle and bustle, unfamiliar visitors staying, new objects, new scents and sometimes a highly charged or tense atmosphere!

All of these things can contribute to an increased level of stress for our family felines, but there are some things we can do to minimise this and give them as relaxing a time as we hope to have ourselves!

1. Routine
Cats thrive on routine, so the most important thing to consider is during this time is to maintain our cat’s daily routine as closely as possible. This includes sticking to his normal feeding times and scheduled playtimes as well as ensuring that his usual sleeping areas and hiding places are available to him.

cat peeking from behind a curtain sniffing a clock on the floor

2. Calming Diffusers
If your cat is particularly anxious, plugin diffusers such as Feliway® and Pet Remedy can help to reduce his general stress level. These should be placed in the room most used by your cat.

Cat sitting next to a Feliway Diffuser plugged into a wall

3. Hiding Places & High Places
Make sure he has plenty of hiding places where he can go for a bit of peace and quiet if it all gets a bit too much for him! If he does take himself off, it’s probably best to leave him undisturbed, he’ll come out when he feels ready. Giving him height such as shelving, tops of wardrobes or tall cat activity centres will also help him feel more secure.

Cat hiding under a table

4. Food Treats
We might give ourselves carte blanche to overindulge at Christmas, but we should try to avoid the temptation to allow our cats to do the same. Any treats should ideally be cat treats as opposed to human food and Christmas chocolate is a no-go as it contains theobromine which is toxic to cats.

Siamese cat using his paw to retrieve kibble from a puzzle feeder made out of toilet rolls

And if your cat has taken to lounging around indoors all day due to the inclement winter weather, he will have a reduced calorific requirement. So, if you feed your cat dry food and you haven’t already done so, this would be a good time to try out an interactive puzzle feeder which will give your cat some stimulation as well as limiting his ability to eat too much in one go.

5. Play
Not only is play a great way of keeping your cat exercised during winter, it’s also a very effective stress-buster. In my opinion, all cats have a playful streak, it’s just a question of finding the type of toy that floats their individual boat. Interactive toys such as fishing-rod toys, pieces of string and ping pong balls that allow cats to run, chase and pounce are generally popular.

And instead of throwing away the plethora cardboard boxes that we accumulate at this time of year, keep one or two back for your cat’s personal use! Throwing some fresh catnip or scent enriched toys such as honeysuckle cat toys inside and rotating the toys daily will help to keep cats interested. As well as a play item, boxes make very good hiding places.

Black and white cat rolling on floor and holding a pink pouch toy in his paws

6. Decorations
Place all Christmas decorations such as tinsel, baubles, electrical decorations, candles etc out of paw’s reach to avoid them being knocked over or eaten by a curious cat!

Cat sitting on the floor amongst Christmas lights

7. Going Away?
If you’re planning to go away for Christmas it’s a good idea to make your cat care arrangements as early as possible as catteries and cat-sitters tend to get booked up well ahead of time.

As territorial creatures, many cats prefer to stay at home and you might therefore arrange for a family member, friend or neighbour to pop in a couple of times a day to provide food, change the litter and check that all is well. If the visitor is unknown to the cat, ensure you ask them to come over before you go away, so you have the opportunity to interview them and see how your cat responds to them.

If your cat is particularly sensitive and cautious with strangers then it might be a good idea for him to go to a cattery where he can associate any feelings of stress with the cattery, rather than with his home.

If your cat is travelling with you try taking a towel or blanket that your cat sleeps on and use this to handle your cat when placing him in the cat carrier. You can then use it to provide a familiar and reassuring scent for your cat during the journey. Use Feliway® or Pet Remedy spray on the carrier approximately 30 minutes before your cat is put in it.

Ginger cat lying on a suitcase

8. Heat
Just because cats are covered in fur, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are always warm. Many cats, including those with short, fine coats such as Siamese feel the cold. So, if you find your cat constantly heading for the warmest place he can lay his paws on you might like to treat him to a low voltage heated pet pad. When placed under a blanket it will provide him with gentle heat whenever he wants it.

Heated pads are also great for elderly cats who don’t have as much fat on their bones to keep them warm and the heat helps to ease any tension in stiff or arthritic joints.

Cat wrapped inside a red blanket

9. Introducing Your Cat to New Resources
If you do buy something new for your cat this Christmas such as a scratching post or bed, simply put it in an appropriate place and then walk away! Your cat won’t be impressed by any ‘hard sell’ tactics!

Kitten scratching on a vertical scratching post

10. Take a Deep Breath…
Try and keep yourselves cool and collected. Your calm vibes will definitely help your cat!

Kitten relaxing in owners arms, Christmas tree in the  background

Clare Hemington

Clare has worked in the field of cat behaviour for sixteen years. She is an accredited Cat Behaviourist and respected member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. Clare believes that understanding cat behaviour is key to their overall welfare. Through consultation and education her aim is to share information with owners that enables them to give their cat a life that is as happy as it possibly can be. Clare is also founder and owner of Honeysuckle cat toys. Toys made from Tatarian honeysuckle wood which provide wonderful natural enrichment for cats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *