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Avoiding Holiday CAT-astrophies - by Liz Gordon PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Thursday, 27 December 2012 20:22

Every cat lover wants this Season to be a happy one.  But that can sometimes be difficult. Holidays mean change, which doesn't always jive with the feline members of the family.  While Christmas may be over, here are some timely tips to consider heading into New Year's:

Q: How can I keep my cat out of the Christmas tree?

A: Sprinkle ordinary ground pepper on the skirt, or base of the tree & on the lower branches.  Your cat will sneeze and leave! It’s harmless, won't affect them or damage decorations.  Pet stores also sell Sprays such as Bitter Aloe.  Spray a little on the lower branches and chances are your cat (and dog) will be discouraged to return. Sticky sheets used to deter scratching on furniture will also work when placed around the base.  Consider putting any special gifts for them out at the very last moment, especially if catnip is involved. The feline nose knows!

Q: My cat always gets stressed when visitors come around.  What can I do to make her more comfortable?

A: The term “party animal” does not in fact refer to cats.  In that they don't really like social gatherings, it's a good idea to sequester your felines in a quiet part of the house.  Equip the room with food/water, a litter box and their favorite beds or blankets about two hours before guests are due to arrive.

If the room is carpeted, place a large garbage bag underneath the box to capture any litter and guard against mishaps. Put a "Do Not Disturb" notice outside the door.  If they're particularly fearful, spray the room with a feline pheromone or plug one into a wall socket several days in advance. These sprays/plug-ins emit synthetic versions of naturally occurring feline pheromones - which cats deposit when they rub their cheeks against surfaces, marking the areas as safe and familiar. This helps them feel less anxious in what could otherwise be a stressful situation.  There are also special calming collars made from all-natural products, that can be placed on the cat along with her normal collar.  The effects last up to a month.

Q: I have to be extra careful because my cats love to investigate around the fireplace & lit candles. Why are they so attracted to fire?

A: Cats are attracted to the warmth of the fire & anything that flickers. Fireplaces must be screened off with a fireproof enclosure. If your cat persists, take a can of compressed air (there are special cans for pets, but those used on computer keyboards work just as well). The hissing sound is an excellent training deterrent; while a water spray bottle is another alternative. Eventually, if you leave the can or water bottle nearby (but not too close for safety reasons), they won't even attempt to go close. 

No Cat is ever "Safe" around Candles.  Whether placed on a low table or a high mantlepiece, cats can easily jump up to investigate. You can try using compressed air or a water bottle as a deterrent.  But to be really safe, purchase flameless candles instead. That way you'll both enjoy the ambience, and have peace-of-mind.

Q: Why is my cat obsessed with boxes, wrapping paper, tape/tissue paper, ribbon & gift bags?  How can I stop him from being such a nuisance around the holidays, aside from locking him in a room?

A: From a cat's point-of-view, boxes, wrapping paper & ribbons are deemed to be fabulous cat toys. Everyone that if you purchase a terrific cat toy, he'll be far more interested in the box in which it was packed. So you may have to confine hiim to another room while you're gift-wrapping, in order to get the job done. It's not only the nuisance value, but ribbons & string can be very dangerous if chewed and swallowed. 

Never allow your cat to play with plastic bags. If you do decide to give him a paper bag to enjoy/keep busy with while wrapping, be sure to cut off the handles, so he can’t get his neck caught and possibly hurt himself. Better still, buy special feline crinkle bags to play with.   Be wary of putting out gifts with ribbons & bows if your cat is attracted to such decorations. You can also sprinkle a little pepper or bitter aloe on the gifts, to deter them.

Q: I'd like to put my cat in a costume for our holiday cards, but he hates it. Is there any way to get him used to it?

A: Instead of trying to dress him in a complete outfit, why not look for a fun collar or cape that'll velcro in place around the neck and won’t stress him out. There are many to choose from, including: An Elf, Santa collar with white fur, & an angel.  Some outfits have a complimentary hat that fits over the ears.  Your cat will determine just how far you can go in playing  dress up.  Of course timing is everything: Set up the shot well in advance, only introducing them to their wardrobe at the very last moment...and don’t forget the TREATS!

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 December 2012 21:44

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