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Hissy Fits - How To Calm Your Kitty
By Carole Wilbourn, The Cat Therapist

The predictable rhythm of your home your cats know and love is about to change. You've invited people over to your place for a gala dinner; some will even be spending the night. You're not too worried about "Bunky," your older cat, who has a Zen-like demeanor and refuses to let anything rattle him. He is a true 'Mr. Catsonality'. But his five-year-old companion, Binky, can be a bundle of nerves and contradictions.

Unlike Bunky, Binky doesn't bode well with noise and excitement, and he doesn't always know when to remove himself from the situation, either. Instead, he plants himself in the thick of the action and meows or swats whoever comes near him.

There are ways to keep Binky from going over the edge, and now is the time to make the preparations necessary in your home to spare him--and you--the annual holiday angst. Here's some easy tips you can begin trying today.

  • Set up a space just for Binky - This could be in your bedroom or, if you're a spaced-starved New Yorker, a closet with the door kept open. This can be Binky's private hide-a-way, and Bunky can join him when he wants a break, too.
  • Creature Comforts - Once you and Binky decide on a secluded spot, fill it with some of his favorite things. Reuse one of the large paper bags you brought home after your last holiday shopping trip and fill it with tissue paper and a sprinkling of catnip to provide a comfy hangout. Cut any carrying handles off the bag so Binky doesn't get entangled in them.If he has a favorite basket or cushion, place it beside the bag.
  • Water will cure any sudden, nervous thirst and a bowl should always be nearby. Food is optional, but a pot of kitty grass can be included if he's a nibbler. It usually aids digestion and provides him with a touch of the great outdoors.
  • Mount a Cozy Climber on the bedroom or closet door if Binky likes to climb. It has a few separate vertical pockets, so he can choose which one to nap in. Your pet store may carry it or you can ask them to order it for you. See what it looks like online at or call the company toll free 866-829-0504 for more information. It's a fun way for Binky to get some exercise and be 'king of the mountain' at will!
  • A scratching post will keep Binky's claws trimmed and help him relieve some stress. Felix Katnip Tree Company in Seattle makes a sturdy, long-lasting scratching board made of natural woven sisal hemp and can be put anywhere, even in a small apartment. Visit or call 206-547-0042.
  • Aromatherapy may help Binky stay calm; try putting out a bowl of lavender potpourri, which has a soothing and has a pleasant scent. Note: avoid liquid potpourri, which is toxic to cats. Avoid candles--scented and otherwise--altogether, which could be accidentally knocked over by a curious cat.
  • The Bach Flower Rescue Remedy for anxiety is a homeopathic flower essence that can be added right to Binky's water in times of high stress. Many pet stores carry it, or you can purchase it from a holistic pet care store like Whiskers (800-WHISKERS or 212-979-2532).
  • Soft, calming music (unless Binky prefers hard rock or rap!) will soothe his spirits and also ease the impact of loud, excited conversations. You might even want to record yourself talking to him with music in the background. (My book, THE TOTAL CAT, explains how to do this.)

Set up this 'secret hide-a-way' and spend daily intervals there with Binky before your home starts filling with holiday well-wishers. He'll begin associating it with happy times and seek it out when he needs a break. Or, if you see him stressing, you can lead him to his serene space so he can calm down. You may find yourself wanting to join him!

Click here for more articles about cats.

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Most recent update: 3/15/07
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