The best part of the holidays is spending time with the people — and pets — we love the most. But if you share your home with a cat, prepping for houseguests means more than just vacuuming up the stray fur balls. Your feline may be uneasy having extra or unfamiliar people in her space, especially if they are staying for multiple days and nights.
Help your cat be a good host by following these simple etiquette strategies.
Maintain your cat’s normal routine.
As much as possible, avoid altering your cat’s schedule and living space while company is visiting. If changes are necessary — moving the litterbox out of the guest bathroom while friends are staying, for example, or shifting her feeding time to accommodate holiday commitments — plan ahead and give your cat time to adjust to the changes before your houseguests arrive.
Create a safe space for your cat.
Designate a room in your house just for your cat, where she can go when she needs a little quiet time away from people. Provide her with food, water and a litterbox, and include her bed, her scratching post and climber, and her favorite toys. Make sure she has access to the room at all times and that guests know it’s just for the cat — no visitors allowed.
Create a cat-free zone for your guests.
Not everyone will love your cat as much as you do, so it’s only fair to set aside a space that is just for guests. Clean and close off guest rooms before your company arrives to get your cat used to not roaming in those areas. And if your kitty is a nighttime prowler or an early riser, consider having her share your room overnight, to limit the chances of waking your guests.
Help guests make friends with your feline.
Does your cat take a little time to warm up to new people? Does she run when someone tries to pet her? Help your guests make friends with your cat by giving them specific instructions about how to interact with her, like not making direct eye contact or allowing her to initiate interactions. A simple way to break the ice is to ask your cat to do familiar tricks and have guests reward her with treats and praise. This gives everyone a specific way to interact and helps your cat to feel comfortable around your friends.
Be extra cautious with little visitors.
If your guests include children, it’s important to be clear about expectations ahead of time to help guarantee safe interactions between the kids and the cat. Give parents and children specific instructions about how to interact with your cat, including ways she does and does not like to be touched. Be clear as well about behavior that is off-limits (chasing or grabbing the cat) and spaces where your cat is to be left alone, like in her cat-safe room or her carrier. Be sure to supervise every interaction between your cat and visiting children; if you’re not able to do so, then remove your cat to her safe room and close the door.