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A carefully crafted holiday party guest list includes lots of different types of people. But what about your cat? Is she the social type who has never met a stranger she didn't like? Or is she so shy that your friends don’t even know you have a cat? Is she a door dasher or a committed climber or a nosy parker? And how can you manage her manners while you’re tending to your guests?
Here are some simple tips for helping your cat be on her best behavior during your holiday party — no matter her personality type.
If your feline ducks for cover when people arrive, set up a cat-safe space for her where she can retreat from the holiday happenings. Gather all of her necessities — litterbox, food, water, bedding, toys, perch areas and scratching posts — in a room that is off-limits to party guests. Soothing music and sound buffers, such as a rolled towel placed against the door, can help mute bothersome party noise, and a spritz of pheromone spray on the towel or on bedding can help to calm your cat’s nerves.
If possible, arrange the space a few days before your party and give your cat time to get comfortable before the festivities start. During the party, check in every so often to see how she’s doing and offer her a treat.
If your cat is friendly but takes a while to warm up to new people, let her sit out the chaos of arrivals in her cat-safe room. Once guests are settled, encourage her to come out by offering rewards, like her favorite treats and toys. If your kitty knows some tricks — high-five or come when called are two you can teach in advance— have her perform these for your guests. Tricks give her a familiar way to interact with new people.
Be sure to provide easily accessible retreat areas in case your cat becomes overwhelmed or afraid. Climbers that raise her above the crowd or boxes she can hide in can be helpful if she needs a moment to herself. And make sure she has access to her cat-safe room if she decides she’s done with the party.
Socialite kitties are likely to relish the extra human attention available during a holiday party. But it’s important to remember that not all of your guests will love your cat as much as you do, or welcome her overtures. Unfortunately, these are often the first people your cat will try to make friends with. Redirect her toward a toy or a more cat-friendly visitor with a hand lure or target. (Of course, you'll have to teach that behavior well in advance of the party.)
A super-social cat may also direct play behavior toward your guests’ hands, feet and clothes — especially if she lacks other options to sink her teeth or claws into instead. To help put a stop to this behavior, always redirect cat play to toys, instead of hands, feet or clothing. During your gathering, place a varied selection of toys near areas where guests will congregate; use them to help turn your cat’s attention away from your friends and their party clothes.
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