Ready or not, the holidays are here! Last week, my interfaith family kicked off Hanukkah, and this week we will dive into the joys of Christmas. Our home is filled with the smells of two wonderful traditions.
Regardless of the nature of your holiday plans and celebrations, there is one important detail that you cannot overlook: keeping your pets safe and happy with your guests.
The holidays are a very stressful time for pets, especially when young children are around. Holiday treats, loud noises and added excitement can present problems for our furry friends. An enthusiastic child mixed with a stressed pet is not always a good combination.
Below are three tips to keep the joy in your holiday season as you entertain young children:
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up: As a pet parent, you have a responsibility to keep your pet and those around your pet safe. If a young houseguest is negatively interacting with your pet, you should firmly and politely address the problem with the child and his or her parent. If the behavior continues, it may be best to remove your pet from the room.
3. Have an action plan: Before hosting guests this holiday season, it’s important to create a safety contingency plan. Prepare a safe, quiet room in your home where your pet can retreat—this room is a guest-free zone. Baby gates also help keep the peace. If you choose to take your pets outdoors, ensure that they do not remain outside for long periods of time. If the weather is too cold or uncomfortable for you, it’s not suitable for your pets, either.
Caroline Golon is a busy mom of two young girls and two rascally Persian rescue cats living in Columbus, Ohio. She’s passionate about animal welfare and creating happy households with both kids and pets. She’s a regular contributor to Vetstreet.com and other pet-centric sites. You can read more about Caroline’s adventures with kids and pets at her site, Crayons and Collars.
When couples who once doted on their pets become parents to human beings, the pets may get shuffled lower on the priority list. It doesn’t mean they’re loved any less, but parenting humans is tough work—it can be exhausting and all-consuming.
Yet I love my cats even more now that I have two human children. Here’s why:
They offer quiet companionship. When both of my daughters were infants and I awoke in the dead of night to feed them, I was never alone. One or both of my sweet cats would wander into the room to see what was happening, often hopping up on the chair with me as I rocked the baby back to sleep. I was exhausted, sometimes near tears, but my feline boys were always there with me.
They have never-ending patience. My cats have accepted their new human companions, who are now three and six years old. They’ve watched patiently as the girls grabbed at them as babies, staggered toward them as new walkers, ran after them as toddlers and tried to carry them around as preschoolers. Of course, through the years, we’ve always supervised interactions and made sure neither the cats nor the kids were in danger. The cats tolerated changes and unpredictability, and they still want to be with us—snuggled on the couch, on the back of the chair during story time and even sometimes in one of the girl’s laps. It makes my heart swell that they give such unconditional love.
They’re easy to care for. Compared to little humans, cats are easy to care for. Popping open cans of cat food and scooping the litter box is nothing compared to trying to devise healthy meals for a picky preschooler, or constantly wiping bottoms.
They teach valuable lessons. My cats taught my daughters at an early age to be gentle. The girls have learned to move slowly around animals and to respect their space. I see this when my kids politely ask to pet strange dogs or carefully approach other peoples’ cats when we’re visiting.
They’re still my babies. As my kids grow and become more independent, they don’t always want to be picked up or cuddled. They have their own lives, and I’m learning to adjust to that part of parenthood. But my cats? They’re still my babies. They still need me and want to be around me as much as possible. Everything changes so quickly but through everything, they’ve remained the same sweet, loving felines they’ve always been. And I love them more each day because of that.
Beginning Wednesday, December 17, clothing and accessories retailer Forever 21 is offering a collection of animal-themed apparel. In stores and online. $1 from the sale of each item will benefit the ASPCA’s life-saving work for animals nationwide.
The collection, featuring short and long-sleeved graphic tees and a hooded sweatshirt, will be available through November 5, 2015 while supplies last.
The holiday season is in full swing, and whether you’re almost done with your holiday gift shopping or you’re just getting started, we have some ideas for making this season extra-special for your furry friends. In Part Three of our Holiday DIY Series, we’re sharing an easy-to-make dog toy from BarkPost. Grab a few old T-shirts and your kids to help out with this fun project. This toy will keep your dog busy during family festivities, and would be perfect for a game of tug-of-war.
T-Shirt Dog Toy
Two T-shirts Scissors*
Cut 2-3” wide slits at the base of your shirts. After you’ve cut your slits, just rip or cut along the slit to create strips of fabric for the next step.
Gather your t-shirt strips and tie off one end.
Divide your strips into thirds and braid them together.
Once you’ve braided down to the other end, tie up the bottom and cut any straggling t-shirt strips.
I adopted my service puppy in training, Finnegan, from the Marshall County Humane Society in Indiana at 10 weeks old. I have Spina Bifida, and I'm training him myself. He is a great help to me, and when he gets a bit older, he's going to help me do pet therapy at our local nursing home. Finn has learned to open and close doors, take my jackets off, pick up various items, pay at the stores and many other commands. Finnegan is so smart that he was sitting and laying down on command within 15 minutes after I met him. Finnegan is 15 months old now, and I don't know what I'd do without him.