Dear Critter Corner: Thanksgiving is just around the corner and my family will be coming over for a big Thanksgiving dinner. Should I introduce my new cat to my family then?
Thanksgiving is usually a holiday with lots of family celebrating, guests coming and going, food being prepared, and much to give thanks for. It really depends on your cat’s personality in terms of them socializing with the family and for what length of time. Some very outgoing cats love meeting new guests, finding a new warm lap to sleep on, or new kids to play with. Other cats may be overwhelmed by the changes in the home with the guests arriving, the noises in a busy kitchen, and may become more timid with small children running and playing.
If possible, have your cat meet a few people at a time prior to the day you’re planning on celebrating. This way the cat can have a slow introduction to the new folks and gradually become acclimated to everyone who may be attending your dinner. For any newcomer, feel free to have them toss treats to your cat, use long wands for playtime, and let your cat approach them for sniffs and pets rather than the newcomers going towards your cat.
For small children, teach them appropriate ways to play with your cat, using cat wands, stuffed mice toys, etc and let me know whether your cat likes to be handled, picked up, petted etc. Be sure to keep in mind your cat’s comfort level with these interactions and what may cause her to become stressed or overwhelmed.
As dinner is being prepared and prepped it can be handy to have someone in charge of taking care of the cat, keeping an eye on them, and providing them with their own cat dinner and water. This will also be especially helpful with guests arriving at the front door, to ensure your cat doesn’t run out during the greetings at the door or get spooked with the guests’ arrival. Alternatively, if your cat becomes too stressed by all of the commotion, set up a safe space for them in a bedroom where they can find their food, water, litterbox, bed, toys, and anything else that will help make this holiday a safe and enjoyable one for them as well.