If you're a pet parent who likes to entertain, you may notice that when the party gets underway, you have a nervous cat on your hands. During gatherings at your place, your cat may hide under your bed or in a closet, not surfacing until the final guest has left the building.
The anxiety or fear that your kitty displays around large groups of people is natural. It is instinctual for your cat to be cautious around the unknown, be it people, inanimate objects or unfamiliar locations because, for all she knows, these unknowns may be dangerous, explains Petcha.com. Having a houseful of strangers may trigger these instincts in your cat, but there are ways to help her avoid feeling overwhelmed by the number of people or level of noise in your home.
Give Her Some Space
Before the party begins, let your cat nose around the house. This doesn't mean she should walk over the tables and countertops, of course, but you want her to see what all the fuss is about. Once she's used to what the party prep looks and smells like, she'll most likely be less nervous.
Animal Planet explains, "a nervous kitty is often head-shy, meaning she will shy away if you try to pet her on the head. She'll also be prone to hiding, and you might notice her slinking–walking with her legs bent so she's low to the ground. She might also twitch her ears or lower her tail with the very tip curved upward." Cats use body language to communicate with their pet parents, so do a wellness check during the party to see how your feline friend is doing.
You don't want to force your nervous cat to interact with your party guests, so before the fun begins, make sure she has access to a hiding spot to get away from the commotion. Make your bedroom off-limits to party guests so that your cat has a comforting, familiar spot to hide. If your cat doesn't want to be around people no matter what, set her up in a quiet, safe space such as a laundry room or bathroom with the door shut. Be sure to put her necessities–litter box, food, water, and toys–in the room with her so she doesn't stress out.
Work on Her People Skills
One way to prepare your cat for parties is by socializing her at an early age. Although common folklore tells us otherwise, cats are social creatures and love to hang out with people!
If your feline family member is still a young kitten (8-12 weeks old), you can socialize her more easily. "A kitten who did not get a lot of human interaction as a baby will likely be more stressed out when socializing with new people," notes PetMD. Play with her often and let her interact with many different people.
You can socialize your older 'fraidy cat, too. It takes a little more patience and planning, but cats of all ages can be socialized and learn not to be so stressed out around people and noises. Regardless of your cat's age, ask your guests to let your cat do her own thing. You don't want to force your fur baby to interact if she's not interested.
If you host gatherings with a regular cast of characters, host a meet-and-greet ahead of time, if possible. This kind of socializing is a great way to calm your cat during an event of any size. Ask your friend to sit quietly (don't make any sudden moves) until the cat approaches him. Don't be surprised if your kitty rebuffs him the first few meetings, but gradually she'll feel more comfortable around that person.
Providing your cat with a good hiding spot will put you, her, and your guests in a more relaxed, happy mood. And if you can ease her into socializing slowly at her own pace, you may be surprised to see her visit with your guests at the next shindig. Always remember, this is her house too. She wants to feel comfortable in her own home, so never force her to hang out with people. If you see her getting tense, reassure her that things will be okay and help her get away from the commotion. This will help strengthen your relationship with her as well.
Image source: Flickr
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about family life, pets, and pregnancy. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien