By feline behaviourist Anita Kelsey
With trying times facing all of us, the last thing we need right now is our precious mogs playing up and driving us all bonkers at Christmas! Whether we are in lockdown or not, there are certain practical things we can put into place to ensure the hairs on our head remain their natural colour and not end up white and frazzled! Apologies to anyone whose natural hair is white and frazzled.
Many cats love Christmas because of the fun and games that materialise from their human’s pre-Xmas preparations! Presents to bite, wrapping paper and ribbons to pull off, Xmas trees to climb, Tinsel to pull down and decorations to bat about and nibble on. Not forgetting the smell of the cooked turkey filling up their little nostrils.
If you wish to get to the new-year without ending up on Prozac, with hair like Albert Einstein (for those who hair isn’t already like Albert Einstein), please read on.
I offer you my 8 top kitty tips to achieve a happy kitmas with your favourite fur companion.
Let us begin:
- Keep any wrapped presents up off of the floor so that your cat doesn’t start to see them as convenient scratching posts or teeth management devices. You will thank me after I have saved Xmas morning from the ruin of finding huge bite marks taken out of Auntie Sally’s box of carefully wrapped Quality Street. Shut the living room door at night should the Christmas tree be in there with all the gifts piled underneath. Tell your cat Xmas isn’t all about them!
- Be careful of wrapping presents with shiny ribbon hanging loosely from the nicely made bows, as they won’t remain on the present for long! Not only will the lovely wrapped bow end up all mangled and soggy, but loose ribbons and tinsel are also a threat to kitties if they try to eat them.
- Always turn off the Christmas tree lights from the wall if you have a kitty that likes to play with wires. Cats are a curious bunch and they explore things with their mouths just as much as with their other senses. Wires are great fun for kitties and some cats also try to chew on wires. The latter may mean your kitty has a condition called Pica. Cable coverings are always essential until your kitten is older or if you have a ‘Pica’ cat.
- Make sure the Christmas tree cannot easily be knocked over, although with a Maine Coon clinging to the top, this may be some feat! Consider a sturdy weight on the base to keep the tree in place. Some people have come up with some novel ideas regarding their Xmas trees and especially in a multi cat household where the tree doesn’t stand a chance. One of funniest ideas I have seen was a tree hanging upside down from the ceiling!
- When it comes to trees, a real spruce, pine or fur tree can be a danger to cats. This is because the oils produced by them are also mildly toxic if consumed, causing minor irritation to your cat’s mouth and stomach. For this reason consider another option such as a plastic, cardboard or metal tree. As well as being practical they can also look fun, funky and different. Bear in mind though that Pica cats love to chew on plastic and plastic is also not the most environmentally friendly tree to have either!
- Have plenty of other toys for your cat to play with so they do not rush straight to the Xmas decorations.
- High up vertical spaces are perfect for cats to climb up and be out of reach from the hands of excitable children and adults who seek out cats to stroke within an inch of their lives. High vertical spaces also mean that a shy or grumpy cat can stick around to be part of the festivities whilst being well out of reach.
- If all else fails with the tree and presents and you don’t want to re-home your cats for a couple of weeks, try a deterrent such as a motion detector spray, which give a short burst of air when a cat gets to close. These can be good for the stubborn kitty who is determined to ruin Xmas for all, just because they can! And remember to tell your cat that Xmas isn’t all about them!
Good luck folks. Stay safe!
About the author
Anita Kelsey holds a first class honours degree in Feline Behaviour and Psychology (work based BA Hons) and runs a vet referral service dedicated strictly to the diagnosis and treatment of behaviour problems in cats. She is also a qualified cat groomer and specialises in grooming aggressive or phobic cats. Anita writes for Your Cat Magazine and is on their experts panel answering readers questions on cat grooming. She also advises on feline behaviour for the CFBA (Canine and Feline Behaviour) magazine as well as being a full member. Anita, a strong advocate of a vegan lifestyle, is based in London but consults all over the UK as well as international requests. She lives with her husband, a music producer, and two Norwegian Forest cats, Kiki and Zaza. http://www.catbehaviourist.com
Her latest book, Let’s Talk About Cats. Conversation On Feline Behaviour, is out now on Amazon UK/US