How to Be Sure Your Cats Get Proper Attention over the Holidays

Late-night holiday concerts, a weekend visit at Christmas, or an in-home New Year’s Eve party can leave your cat spending a lot of time alone. We’ve got great ideas to help you make your cat feel loved, not lonely over the festive season.

How much attention do cats need?

Contrary to popular belief, cats aren’t solitary hermits who only stoop to receive human affection. In fact, our cats miss their companions while we’re away. Just 10 consecutive minutes of daily play time with their humans can give a cat the mental and physical stimulation she  needs. Some cats are real cuddlers, though, and like to have even more one-on-one time with you. How can you keep them happy if they don’t see you for days?

If you can’t be there, adding another cat or a cat-friendly dog to your home may be a good solution if you are often away. A cat who doesn’t have the companionship of another pet can turn to destructive behaviors to alleviate boredom and loneliness. No one wants to come from a flying holiday trip to find a frustrated cat has wrecked your home.

Last minute snuggles before leaving for the weekend.

Photograph by Skitterphoto.

What do cats do when they don’t get attention?

Shredding is one behavior frustrated cats display. Unfortunately, they don’t stop with the drapes, either. Bored or anxious cats can scratch or lick off  their own fur, leading to skin lesions. They can also fight with other household pets, overeat, or act lethargic.

Cats who suffer from separation anxiety carry on even more than typical cats when left alone for long spans of time at the holidays. They may urinate (or worse!) outside the litter box, yowl throughout the day, or vomit around the house. In these cases, try leaving the TV on, play music, offer puzzle toys, and make sure your cat has a place to watch the world through the window. If these strategies are not enough, consider contacting a cat behaviorist.

“Shredding is one behavior frustrated cats display. Unfortunately, they don’t stop with the drapes, either.”

What do I do with a scared cat over the holidays?

Holiday costumes, friends dropping by, and houses festooned with garlands may add a festive spirit to our lives, but to our cats, they can be frightening. If you are hosting a holiday party in your home, put your cat in a room away from the action. Be sure she has food, water, a favorite toy, and a cat bed. An introverted human friend may even appreciate the chance to have a little down time with your cat during the party. Send them into the room to “check on the cat”!

Some cats are also afraid of Christmas trees and other holiday decorations, so keep your cat away from the Christmas tree as much as possible. A small, narrow tree with plain ornaments can go a long way toward making your cat comfortable.

Exercise extreme caution when decorating with candles. A wayward tail and open flame don’t make a good match.

Also, watch the garland. Cats like to tug at it, but that long glittery stuff can pose a serious health threat if eaten.

What kind of attention does my cat prefer?


Cats love to play. A laser pointer, a ping pong ball in the bathtub, or a ripple rug can provide plenty of entertainment for both your cat and you.

But don’t limit yourself to conventional toys. Try something plain like an empty box, or see what your cat thinks of cat-friendly apps on your tablet.

Play helps cats work out their frustration, stimulates their muscles, and challenges their brains.

Petting & Snuggling

Petting your cat isn’t as easy as it looks. Repeated stroking can cause your cat to become overstimulated and try to get away.

That’s one reason cats have a reputation for snubbing people. But it’s not snobbery that makes cats leave. It’s that people pet them wrong.

Watch for signs of overstimulation like a twitching tail or static electricity, and let your cat nuzzle you instead of stroking him.


The holidays are a great time to engage in photo action with your pets. Make them the center of attention (which they love) by taking photos of your furry friend.

All it takes is a camera (even a phone will work fine), a helper, plenty of light, and a willingness to shoot from a cat’s-eye view.

You can get some lovely shots of cats with a little patience. If you make picture time fun, most cats will work with you for a while.

I don’t want my cat to feel left out at the holidays. What should I buy her for Christmas?

One of the great things about cats is – they love not only the gift you give them but they also get a kick out of the wrapping paper and the box the gift came in. Depending on how much you want to spend, there’s a lot you can give your cat for Christmas. Puzzles, toy mice, catnip, a new scratching post, or a new Hepper Nest Cat Bed will help your cat feel the love this holiday season.

Winter holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year.
Let’s make sure it’s as much fun for our cats as it is for us by giving them plenty of affection and attention this time of year.

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