4 min read
By Grace Park
Published: 11/19/2020, edited: 09/21/2021
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Cats are the purr-fect pet. They are adorable and easy to care for, have a lot of love to give, and don’t demand a whole lot. Cats are happy when they have a comfortable place to sleep and tons of affection when they feel like seeking it out.
Cats just make the world a better place without asking for a lot in return. But when you have a kitty with a needier type of personality, how do you respond?
If you have a cat who is fearful or timid when visitors arrive, it can sometimes be perceived as unfriendliness or even aggression. But this is typically not the case.
Let’s look at ways to help your cat feel calm and comfortable when you have friends or family visit.
Always show patience.
Don’t feel like you have to make excuses for your feline four-legger. Cats will be cats, after all, and when someone strange appears, your kitty may just feel better going off on their own to sleep in their favorite spot.
But when you have visitors in the home for an extended stay, it makes sense to try and help your cat to be calm and comfortable It’s best not to push the issue—give gentle guidance instead, so that your cat does not end up being even more stressed.
You know yourself that cats can sometimes seem aloof, even when they are not. But they have this quirky way about them that says they like to be affectionate on their terms. And that’s okay.
Your cat may also be genuinely nervous and for good reason:
When visitors come over, the noise level in the home changes and is usually louder
Your kitty’s feeding time may be moved due to activity in the home
Items like bulky luggage make an appearance
Access to your cat’s preferred rooms may change
Changes to the environment may make a cat feel less confident
When a normal routine is turned upside down, a cat may become anxious
It's not really necessary for your cat to mingle with the guests. But, helping them to be calm in the home when visitors are there is ideal. Cats like to take their time and feel comfortable before they make themselves known to guests. When your cat is ready, they’ll come to say hello.
To help initiate this contact with visitors, try these tips:
Provide a kitty-comfort space: You may think that making a space for your cat to get away on their own is counterintuitive. But if your cat is relaxed in knowing they have a place where they can sleep and rest without feeling fearful, they will venture out to see the visitors because they know they have a cat-friendly retreat.
This space should have all of the creature comforts, including a comfy bed, food and water, a litter box, and toys. If your cat has a litter box in a permanent spot, leave that one there as well, just in case your cat takes time adjusting to any changes in location (especially if it’s temporary while guests are present).
Place a perch near a window: If you have a cat tree or perch near a window with lots of exciting things going on outside, there is a good chance your cat will frequent the area even with a visitor sitting in the room.
The cat perch is a non-threatening way for your cat to observe the guest along with the distractions of the outside. Place a few delectable treats on the perch to encourage your cat to follow their nose and use the perch on their own.
Have the visitor offer treats: You can recruit an understanding friend or two to work with you to help you get your cat calm and comfortable. These steps should be done over multiple sessions—not expecting your cat to be completely at ease right away.
Sit on your couch with your cat relaxed by your side
Have your friend enter the room but stay at a far distance
If your cat remains and stays calm, give them a treat
If your cat is fearful, have the friend move farther away
Reward your cat now
After a few sessions, have the friend move closer in proximity to you and the cat
The goal is to get closer each session
Once your cat is relatively calm with this person, you can have your friend move around in the room
Start the process over with a new friend
Remember that progress may be slow
Try cat appeasing and F3 facial pheromones: Pheromones are natural substances and scents emitted by cats (dogs have pheromones, too), which are synthetically reproduced and used in sprays and diffusers as ways to calm a cat. There are pheromone collars as well.
When you have guests coming over, plug in a diffuser. The emitted scent may have a calming effect on your cat, allowing them to feel less threatened by the presence of a visitor in the house.
Ask visitors to have a cat-aware approach.
Remember, socialization is very important. When your cat is young, get them used to interacting with people. Have visitors over frequently throughout the year (not just at holidays), so your cat gets used to strange noises and lots of activity.
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