Many people bought a dog or a cat for company during the past year of lockdowns, and pets everywhere have enjoyed their parents being at home more. The share of households with either a cat or dog has leapt to 59% in 2020-21, up from 41% in 2019-20 (Statista).
According to the RSPCA, Google searches for ‘kittens near me’ were up 667% compared with last year, with an 114% increase of people looking to adopt a cat on the RSPCA Find a Pet page during the lockdown.
While a lot of attention has been given to post-lockdown anxiety, spare a thought for the nation’s pets. Young pups and kittens will have had fewer opportunities to socialise outside of the household bubble.
As restrictions lift and we prepare to entertain at home from Monday 17th May, and indeed, leave home more frequently, good pet parents will need to consider how their furry friends might react to visitors.
TV Personality and Resident Veterinarian for sustainable cat litter brand, Natusan, Dr Scott Miller, shares his top tips on how to keep your cat happy with new people in the house:
Transfer your smell to the cat sitter
Most cat lovers know that a feline will choose you, and not the other way round.
“Cats are solitary animals, and can often be a bit unimpressed to find strangers in their territory” says Dr. Scott Miller.
That’s fine when company is fleeting, but if you need your cat to bond quickly with the cat sitter or a longer-term house guest, you can try the following:
“A lot of cats will just like certain people and their particular smell. If you’re trying to ingratiate your cat with a particular person, then it is worthwhile transferring some of your scent onto them.”
This can be done with an item of clothing, or an accessory, such as wearing a scarf for a short period of time during the handover.
Use treats and toys to tempt a wary kitty
Bribery is one of the oldest tricks in the book, so have some of your feline friends’ favourite snacks on hand to tempt your kitty to increase contact.
“Some cats are quite food motivated. So you can maybe use some treats to try and see if that has some impact on making your cat more agreeable to people.”
Brushing and grooming also helps create a bond, and similarly, actively playing with a house cat can help them feel calm.
“Use fishing rod toys, feathers, laser pens and things that can burn off that energy, get their heart rate up and make them feel like they’ve had some exercise. Then they will be far more chilled and relaxed.”
Create a safe space for your cat
Let your cat out if you know you have people coming over, shut the doors to the room you’re using, or help them find a high, comfortable place to stay out of reach of young children or a visiting pooch.
“Most of the time, your cat is trying to find their comfort zone and if that means it is away from people who are visiting your home, then do let them do that.”
Remember to make your guests comfortable too
Keep some antihistamine ready to hand in case anyone has allergies. And remember, while pet parents tend to overlook the less pleasant attributes of keeping a cat, sometimes we don’t realise how our homes smell to other people! Whereas with sustainable cat litter brand Natusan, you can be confident about odour control.
Rachel Andre, CEO of Natusan said: “After an incredibly challenging year, many people all across the country will be counting down until they can host loved ones in their home once again.
“However, it’s important we ensure both our pets, and our guests, are comfortable. And while felines are one of the cleanest creatures – their urine is a sensory gift that keeps on giving.
“At Natusan, we believe our cats should be seen but not smelled. 40% better on odour control than the average natural litter, our 100% natural and biodegradable tight clumping litter traps the smelliest of odours for longer.
“So you and your guests can be confident that when your cat relieves themselves, the house won’t harbour the smell.”