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posted: 4/9/2014 6:52 PM

Shy or social, visitors can pose problems for your feline

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  • Baby

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

  • Bambi

    Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation

By Mary Hayashi

Having friends and family over for lengthy visits or a weekend stay can become a challenge if your guests are allergic or just do not bond with felines.

Personally, I make it clear to my friends that my felines are my best friends, and if my friends do not accept that I suggest, "perhaps we should just meet at the restaurant."

I have some tips for you when dealing with your house guests and you would like to be more tactful than myself. First and foremost, know your felines' personality. Shy and outgoing felines pose two different sets of potential problems for your house guests.

A shy feline may be so anxiety-ridden it may not want to be bothered by your guests. Stress to your friends and family that your feline needs to come around on its own time. Ask them not to force a relationship. Realize that some of your friends might be thrilled with this advice (if they are not cat people).

If your feline has not been introduced to many strangers, he or she is more apt to be shy and not open to the new experience. You can lessen the stress in advance by purchasing a product called Feliway Comfort Zone. It is manufactured as s wall plug-in for a room and as a spray to be applied directly on bedding and in carriers.

Why does Feliway work for some felines? It mimics a natural comforting facial pheromone produced by felines.

If you already know your feline's anxiety level with strangers is beyond Feliway, take it to the veterinarian and inquire about anti-anxiety medication to be given on a short-term basis.

Your veterinarian will need to consult with you as well as give your pet an exam to determine overall health and proper dosage.

You should also make sure your guests do not disturb your feline at its favorite sleeping spot. Your feline needs a place to retreat from the new noises of strangers. Perhaps provide an extra quiet spot with fresh bedding to provide your cat an additional place for a nap.

If litter-box placement may be an issue when guests arrive, do not move it. It may confuse your feline. Rather, provide an additional box in a quiet place where your feline will not be disturbed. Perhaps even leave a carrier with the door off in a quiet spot with bedding as a retreat area, or use that location for the extra litter pan. The carrier ensures more privacy.

Also, you should ask your guests to keep the door to the guest room closed. This prevents destructive, marking behavior, like having your feline claw up their luggage or clothing. Your guests should also be asked to keep the windows closed and to use care when exiting doors.

If your guests want to win over your shy feline, start with tossing treats. If your feline shows interest and goes for it, keep your guests tossing the treats closer and closer to them and the two may meet.

With rewards come acceptance. Interactive wand toys can also break shy barriers. Also, do not forget to have your own private interaction and treat time with your feline. Extra attention goes a long way in trust-building.

Outgoing felines can create totally different problems for guests. You know if your feline is interactive with folks if it sits on your furniture or jumps on tables and counter tops. Warn your guests of these behaviors and that you allow it.

If they are uncomfortable with the conduct, head to the nearest restaurant with undue haste. Alternatively, you can always hope they have allergies and will decline the stay -- because, of course, -- you do not own a HEPA air purifier.

Featured felines

Bambi is an adorable and playful petite, female tabby with beautiful, striking green eyes that shift from sea-green to emerald. She has been at the shelter for quite a while and saw her two siblings adopted long ago. Like Bambi, they were a little shy, but have blossomed into wonderful cats. Bambi is just like most typical cats, she's a little reserved at first but needs the reassurance that she can trust you and you'll see the beautiful personality laying underneath. Bambi is a very active and agile girl. She will chase the laser pointer light all the way up. Bambi is best friends with Baby.

Baby is a gorgeous, female, black-and-white tuxedo cat with yellow-green eyes and white whiskers and eyebrows. She is shy at first, but warms up and will be very sweet once she gets to know you. Baby is best friends with Bambi. Give this cat a chance. She is looking for her forever home.

• The Buddy Foundation is a nonprofit (501c3), all volunteer, no-kill animal shelter dedicated to the welfare of stray, abused and abandoned cats and dogs. For more information, call (847) 290-5806 or visit