cat calming treats cat with blue collar

What To Do If Your Cat Hates Visitors

Like most cat owners during the pandemic, you probably received very few visitors. So, it’s likely that you’re contemplating cat calming treats and other remedies to help your kitty adjust as you open up your doors again. To truly get to the root cause of their anxiety around unfamiliar faces, you need to know a little about cat psychology. As a cat owner, you will also need to get hold of the right cat calming treats and products, as well as learn about some behavioral techniques that will help your cat (and your visitors!). Combined, these methods will create a more relaxed environment for everyone involved.

What’s Going In Your Cats’ Head?

To begin with, you need to have a little insight into what goes through your cat’s mind when the doorbell rings and a new human appears. It’s all too easy to chalk up their aggressive or fearful response to a hatred of people. But this oversimplifies the matter because cats do like people (especially those who feed them!), just not the random stranger who just entered their territory! There can be many reasons why your cat is scared of people, including:

  • Prior mistreatment – Unless you’ve got a purebred cat, it’s likely that you’ll have adopted your feline friend from a rescue center. You often don’t know why the animal was put up for adoption, but there is often a case of mistreatment, either intentional or just pure neglect, that makes them wary of new humans. 
  • Territorial dominance – Particularly dominant or anxious cats may react poorly to your guests because they view the intrusion as an invasion of their territory. A common sign of territorial dominance is urinating or spraying more frequently when you have visitors over.
  • Fear of novelty – A cat’s hearing and sense of smell are much more acute than ours. Anyone who comes to your home will sound and smell different, and for many cats, this is something to be frightened of. If your cat runs and hides in small spaces, fear is likely to be the driver of their anxiety. 

Calming Cat Treats and Stress Reducing Products

calming collar for cats cat with calming collar looking out the window

Understanding what your cat is experiencing when a new person comes to your house is the first step towards solving the issue. You can then examine the range of calming cat products that are designed to reduce stress levels. Three popular options include:

  • Pheromone spray – Like most animals, cats are considerably more responsive to pheromones than humans. Pheromones are scent particles that cats use to communicate with each other over time (think about why they spray and rub against things!). Humans have now made synthetic pheromones that mimic these natural scents to calm your cat down and induce positive feelings. For example, having a Feliway spray on hand when your visitors arrive can help your cat associate new people with feeling calm and happy. Simply spritz some around the areas of the house where your guest will be, or buy a diffuser that will release the positive pheromones throughout the duration of the visit. 
  • Cat calming collars – If you have a large home or you’ve got a lot of guests coming over for a party, it can be hard to know where to concentrate the pheromones! In this case, a cat calming collar is a great option. These will look and feel like a normal collar to your cat, but they will slowly release calming pheromones right under your cat’s nose. This means that wherever your cat is, the pheromones will follow. It can take your cat a little while to get used to the new collar, especially if they don’t regularly wear one. So, you may want to spend some time training your cat before your guests arrive. 
  • Cat calming treats – Getting your cats used to new visitors is all about helping them to build positive connections. Cat calming treats serve a double purpose towards this goal. Firstly, they give your guests a way to positively interact with your cat. Secondly, there are chemicals in the treats that have a calming effect on your cat’s brain. Feel free to use these treats in conjunction with the Feliway sprays and cat calming collars.

Behavioral Techniques

Armed with a little knowledge about why your cat is scared of people, (as well as some cat calming treats), you’ll be ready to start inviting people to your home. However, you’ll also want to consider some behavioral techniques to help your cat accept and even welcome new visitors. 

The key to any behavior modification program for cats is making and repeating positive connections between something familiar and something “scary”. By pairing cat calming treats with new guests you are helping your cat to see the ‘intruder’ as something positive rather than negative. However, it’s important to note that you need to reserve these special treats for when you have guests. Don’t just give them out whenever you feel like it! 

Another easy behavioral technique involves repeatedly exposing your cat to something that produces anxiety (think of Indiana Jones dropping into the pit of snakes!). For example, if you have someone new in your life who will be spending a lot of time in your home, invite them to come over for short periods of time. Have them sit quietly somewhere that your cats likes to hang out. The first time, your cat will probably react badly. But as your guest spends more time displaying non-threatening behaviors, your cat will start to approach them and get used to their pheromones. Take advantage of this by giving your guest some cat calming treats to reward this interaction and they will be best buddies in no time.