Holidays can be a stressful time of year for cats, especially if you are an owner who frequently entertains at home. Large gatherings of new people, constantly ringing doorbells, and loud music can cause even the calmest of cats to become skittish or nervous.

Here’s how to make the holidays less stressful for your feline friends.

Before the party

  • Make sure there’s a quiet spot for your cat to hide out. Create a safe area in a separate area of the house full of your cat’s favorite toys, a bed, and a litter tray. Spend some time with your cat playing in this area to help them become familiar with it. Having a refuge to call their own will allow them to be more relaxed.
  • Decorate safely. Many party decorations can be hazardous to your cat—they look like toys! Set up the Christmas tree without decorations until your cat becomes used to it, then add the decorations high and out of reach. Avoid using glass decorations, and tape wires down or keep them behind furniture. Pine needles, holly and mistletoe are all slightly toxic to cats. Candles are another thing to watch out for—cats love to knock things over!

During the party

  • Keep an eye on your cat. Whether your cat is nervous and hiding, or the life of the party, make sure to check in with them from time to time. They can be spooked by the hustle and bustle, and the additional change in routine can add to that stress. Having a few moments with you, as she would on a normal night, can be calming.
  • Make sure your guests aren’t feeding your cat any party food nibbles or leftovers. Let your guests know that even if your cat looks interested, that they have set feeding times and diets and should not be offered any food. Also be careful of things like chicken bones in the garbage—these are serious choking hazards and can require an emergency visit to the vet.

Keep in mind, this is your cat’s house too, and she should never be forced to socialize. If, despite your best efforts, you see her getting tense or anxious, you may want to try a product that includes calming pheromones, such as Head To Tail Calming supplements. These are healthy treats that are specially formulated to help your cat de-stress and relax without causing drowsiness.