So you want to have a party! But your cats aren’t too sure about the idea. Or wouldn’t be, if they understood what a party was and that you’re having one. Never fear, here are some tips to help prepare your cats for any guests suddenly invading their domains! With or without party hats.
STEP 1: PLAY WITH THEM
About an hour before your guests are due to arrive, get out your cat’s favorite toy and put in some serious playtime of about 10-15 minutes. Laser pointers are good if your cat’s keen on the red dot, and wand cat toys are even better. Wand cat toys stimulate your cat’s hunting instincts and gets them completely engaged, putting their whole body into the exercise through stalking and leaping behaviors.
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Tiger Jack always leads us a merry chase when we get his favorite feathery wand toy out: he not only successfully captures his “prey,” but then he tries to slink off with it to devour in private. The look on his face when the toy snaps back on the line never stops cracking me up.
STEP 2: FEED THEM DINNER
Right after they’ve gotten a good workout from play time, about 45 minutes before your party starts, put down food for your cats. Yes, this means you’ll need to organize their daily feeding time around your party for the day. Plan ahead!
Cats tend to sleep after they’re fed. Combining play time (a period of intense activity) with their meal time will encourage them toward nap time even more. (Anyone who doubts cats’ predilection toward sleep after food can try to sleep in one morning at my place. Daenerys will have my butt wide awake at 6 AM for her nibbles, then snooze peacefully by my pillow once I’m wide awake and can’t get back to sleep.) Use their feline natures to your benefit!
Okay. At this point, we have your cats tuckered out and sleeping by the time your guests arrive. This should hold them for a few hours, but there’s always the chance they’ll be disturbed by the noise of a large gathering or any entertainment like music or sports. In that case:
STEP 3: SHUT THEM AWAY
If you have a part of your home that can be closed off from the rooms open to your guests, it may be best to do so. That way your cats will be snoozing away in a quieter, darkened part of your home while you get down to hosting and partying. Plus, you don’t have to worry about your guests leaving an outside door open too long and one of your kitties dashing out for an exciting outdoor adventure.
This step is entirely up to you, however: some cats need to know what’s going on at all times, and being awakened but locked away from the action could be stressful for them. (Like Daenerys. If we shut her away from a party, she scolds us every time we walk into the shut bedroom and follows us in tripping range from door to bathroom to door again.) Some cats are even natural hosts and prefer to greet all guests! If you leave your cat free to roam during the course of the party, though, it’s even more important you follow this next step:
STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR GUESTS
Make sure your guests understand that you have cats – it’s best to include descriptions, if not names. (Just in case the aforementioned dashing outside occurs.) Make sure your guests understand the pet house rules – for example, which doors to leave closed, and whether it’s okay to pick your cats up. If your guests have no experience with cats, let them know that ignoring a cat is the best way to attract their attention – so they can be prepared for the possibility of sudden cat interest. Also, if you have any guests allergic to cats – well, remind them to take their medication. And maybe only invite them to outdoor shindigs.
That’s it! The best tools are in your hands, and you’re ready to prepare your cats for having a group of guests in your home. Internalize them, practice them, and most importantly: go forth and party!