There are a lot of exciting things that take place during the holidays. A common example for many people is hosting guests at their home. Some guests may only come over for a few hours to enjoy a holiday meal with you. Others may stay for a longer period of time. Although you probably enjoy having these kinds of guests in your home a lot, your cat may not feel the same way.
If you know you’re going to have guests over this holiday season but you’re worried about how your cat is going to respond to having new people in your home, we have several strategies to help take care of both your visitors and cat:
1. Avoid Pressuring Your Cat
Even though it comes with good intentions, a common mistake cat owners make is trying to get their cat excited about interacting with a visitor. While that’s fine if you have an especially social cat or a kitten that you want to help get used to new people, for a cat that’s already set in its ways, you’re better off letting it hang out wherever it wants to be and eventually coming out on its own if it chooses.
2. Give Your Visitors Helpful Tips
While you can’t really tell your cat how to act around visitors, you can give anyone who comes over for the holidays a few tips for interacting with your cat. First, let them know that your cat takes awhile to warm up, so they shouldn’t feel pressured to engage. Another very helpful tip is to let visitors know that if your cat does start coming around them, they can maximize the likelihood of a successful interaction by using eye kisses. In case you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s done through slow blinking and avoiding direct eye contact. This lets a cat know that someone is in no way a threat to them.
3. Focus on Positive Associations
One way you can help minimize your cat’s stress about visitors and build momentum towards successful future interactions is to focus on positive associations whenever someone comes into your house. This can include managing your own energy, along with exposing your cat to something it really likes whenever a visitor first comes inside.
4. Create a Safe Space
A simple but very effective way to keep both your cat and guests comfortable during holiday visits is to create a safe space for your cat. This should be an area in your home where your cat doesn’t feel pressured and can enjoy activities like scratching. By giving your cat this space, which should include a bowl of tasty cat food, you can minimize the likelihood of your cat having any bad experiences while guests are over.
Most people are happy about the extra hour of sleep they’re able to gain when clocks turn back an hour near the beginning of fall. While that experience can be a positive one, the same isn’t always true once this new schedule goes into effect. Plenty of people require a few days to adjust to a new sleep pattern. Others don’t like the fact that it is dark when they go to work in the morning and dark when they get off at the end of the day. And for a portion of the population, this shift completely throws off their internal clock and can cause ongoing sleep challenges for weeks at a time.
Since this single change can have so many different effects on people, it brings up an interesting question of if the switch has any impact on animals. While dogs obviously don’t look at a clock and decide what they need to be doing, they do follow a set schedule for different activities that’s driven by their circadian rhythm. Because the change that humans make to their clocks impacts this schedule that dogs internally follow, we want to highlight a few of the disruptive issues dogs may experience this time of the year:
Going to the Bathroom
Even though potty training a puppy can be quite a challenge, once a dog gets in a consistent routine of going to the bathroom, they’re going to want to stick with it. Many owners take their dog out when they first get up in the morning. So if you start sleeping in an hour later due to the clock shifting back, your dog may get quite antsy or start trying to get you up at the time when it usually goes out. Depending on your dog’s personality, you may be able to shift to a new morning potty time in just a few days or you might have to stagger this shift over a longer period of time.
Your pet knows when to expect its bowl to be filled with delicious dog food. So when that important event doesn’t happen right on schedule, plan on your dog coming straight to you for a refill. As with going to the bathroom, the time required to fully shift your dog to a new feeding schedule can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Spending Time with You
If you come home at the same time every day, your dog knows when to expect you. So it’s completely normal for your dog to be a little extra excited or even anxious when you first start coming home in the days following the time change.
Because dogs do have such a consistent inner clock, yours may be caught off guard when going to the bathroom, eating or hanging out with you doesn’t occur at the normal time as a result of the shift caused by Daylight Savings Time. While this is definitely a change your dog is likely to notice, the good news is as long as you’re aware of it, you can take a few steps to minimize the amount of time your dog feels like it’s out of its normal routine.