Some cats are natural and gracious hosts. They welcome visitors to your home with ease and add to the ambience of a pleasant evening of entertaining. Others, not so much; they might hide, or even spook and bolt at a guest's well-meaning advances. (Awkward.)
As a host, it's your job to put others at ease and make them comfortable. As a cat guardian, it's also your job to help your cats feel safe and secure in their own home.
Worried about how to do this because your cats are shy or timid? Relax.
Here are 5 straightforward tips to help your cats and guests enjoy the evening.
5 Tips For Entertaining House Guests (When You Have Shy Cats)
1. Walk into the house together with your guests
When Jackson goes to a home to help a cat who's afraid of visitors, here's what he does. He phones or texts the cat's guardian when he arrives, but before he knocks on the door. The homeowner then has a chance to go outside, meet Jackson, and then together, they walk back in.
Understandably, things like knocking, door bells, and the clonking of strange shoes can put a cat on guard. They're foreign intrusions. Minimizing the knocking & doorbells, and pairing the stranger together with the familiar guardian can help ease a cat's stress about the new arrival.
2. Give Your Guests Treats, To Give To Your Cats
Come bearing gifts. If your cat goes crazy for a particular treat, this is the time to use that treat.
Help your cat associate good things with the guests. Even if your cat goes under the couch, all is not lost. Just drop the treat in front of the couch, and entice your cat to use their senses in the presence of the other person. This encourages your cat to exercise their power and their skills, to continue exploring their world in the presence of the new visitor. That's a confidence-building thing for a shy cat. And we like that!
3. Ask Your Guests To Ignore The Cat
Politely explain to your guests that your cat is on the shy side, and that you've found the best way for visitors to interact with them is actually, to just ignore them. Pretty easy! When it comes to shy or scaredy cats, one of the best thing you can do...is do nothing. Besides offering the treat, do nothing.
Jackson says he's noticed, and you may have, too: it's always the person who's allergic to cats or afraid of cats who has the cats climbing all over them when they go to somebody's house.
There's a reason for that: because cats want to come over and explore, but on their own time and their own terms.
4. GIVE Your Cats A Room Of Their Own
Set aside a room in your home that will be just for the cats, and only for the cats, for the duration of the evening. This will be their 'basecamp.' Ideally, choose a room that your cats are very comfortable with and spend a lot of time in already. Probably a bedroom. Maybe an office. Make sure the room has a lot of 'scent soakers' -- blankets, beds, and toys that have the cat's scent already on them; this helps put them and reassures them that this is their territory. They'll feel safer and more secure for it. And that's what we want.
The beauty of this basecamp is that it empowers the cats. They'll be able to choose whether they stay in basecamp or not. You're giving them the best of both worlds: a safe and secure area that's all their own, as well as the option of venturing out if they want to push their 'challenge line' and get a little out of their comfort zone.
5. Try Adding Holistic Solutions
In the late 1990's, Jackson and Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, developed a line of holistic flower essence solutions. Jackson's used these on nearly every cat case he's worked on since. (If you're completely new to the idea of flower essence solutions, here's a great intro.) Here are three solutions that can help cats through the stress of holiday parties and house guests.
Stress Stopper is formulated for all animals, not just cats. It's great for occasional, short-duration stresses like visitors and houseguests, along with trips to the vet, thunder and lightning, fireworks, the vacuum, the lawnmower, or other machinery. Stress Stopper is designed to help animals feel grounded and protected, and is one of the most commonly used solutions in the entire line.
Safe Space for Cats was formulated to help construct an energetic "bubble" around your cat, and reassure them that their territory is safe and protected from intruders. For this reason, many people have used it with success to reduce or eliminate territory-related behaviors like urine-marking and aggression toward other animals. Safe Space for Cats can help increase a cat's self-confidence, and that's what we're after: confidence in the midst of strange visitors to the home.
If you're not sure which solution to choose, the best place to start with is Stress Stopper. Like Jackson says, it's one of his staple formulas.
We hope all these tips help!
It might be a bit of extra work, but it's worth it. Your guests and your cats will thank you.