Christmas can be a very stressful time for most members of a family, but we often forget (it never enters our heads as we’re too busy thinking of all the things we have to do) that our being busy impacts upon our pets.  Cats and dogs are very intuitive; they are in tune with our emotions and can read our body language and our faces to know what’s going on.

When we’re really busy, we sometimes forego a meal because we want to hurry to the store before it closes, or we need to finish making something or preparing something.  If we forget to feed ourselves, do we forget to feed our pets too?

For our senior cats, this is not a good state of affairs.  Older cats often have kidney problems requiring them to take medication on a regular basis. They often have other health issues, too, for which, medication is needed.  If we’re too busy with our own ‘stuff’ what happens to our pets’ needs?

Older cats usually prefer peace and quiet.  Not for them the loud jolly belly laugh coming from a rather inebriated Uncle Pedro, who’s over-indulged on the punch.  Or the screechy-voiced Great Aunt Agatha whose voice goes up to the level that only dogs can hear when she gets over-excited.  Far better to have a quiet room, out of bounds to any one else, where your senior feline can lie on his or her own bed, or have the luxury of lying on yours.  Make sure the windows are closed, and the blinds/curtains are drawn so no Steve McQueen-type ‘Great Escapes’ attempts are made.

Bring in a food and water bowl and put them in two separate locations.  If the room is not that big, try not to put them too close together.  Cats rarely eat and drink in the same place.

Also bring in a litter tray and place it as far away from the food and water bowls as possible.  You wouldn’t want to go to the toilet where your food is, and you wouldn’t want to eat and drink where you’d go to the toilet, would you? So, do think carefully about where you position these items.

And finally, add a few toys that give your senior a sense of wellbeing, whether this is a catnip toy or just an ordinary stuffed toy.  Something familiar will be comforting to him when all around him, the unfamiliar is being played out a few rooms away.

Make sure that no one goes into the room.  Allocate one person to be on cuddle duty so that they can go in and check on him on a frequent basis, so that he doesn’t feel left out of things.  This is especially true if your senior is used to being an integral part of the family.  He may feel left out if he’s just dumped in a room and no one visits him the entire time.

Feed him his usual food and try, if possible, to feed him at his usual meal times.  The designated cuddler can be responsible for feeding as well as administering cuddles and kind words. It is essential that he is not given any of the turkey or any of the other bits and pieces that humans eat.  Older cats need less calories because they are not as active, plus much of the food we eat at Christmas is far too rich in fats and sugars – all totally unnecessary to a cat and could make him ill.  The last thing you want is to find an emergency vet on Christmas Day.

Of course, many of us have more than one cat.  If they are all seniors and get on reasonably well, they can all go in the ‘safe’ room.  Ensure there are enough food and water bowls for each cat, plus one spare.  The same goes for litter trays too.  Four cats would equal five litter trays.  This is so that each cat doesn’t have to fight for resources.  If there are shelves in the room, clear them of ornaments or books so that the cats – if they want to – have somewhere high up to escape to, although an older arthritic cat would have trouble climbing up shelves, this might be more suitable for younger, more dexterous and adventurous felines.  Add a few boxes turned on their sides to give them privacy.

Follow these few guidelines and your senior kitizen will enjoy his Christmas as much as you enjoy yours.



In the Middle of a World...

"In the middle of a world that has always been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence."

Roseanne Anderson