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St Anne's Veterinary Group Blog
I’ve seen so many memes over the last few weeks of dogs loving having their owners home and cats asking when the humans are going back to work!? Whilst this seems funny, it’s more accurate than we could imagine.
Cats are creatures of routine; they like to know what it going to be happening and what to expect. Things have changed considerably for most of us:
-Children are at home and being home-schooled
-More people at home and even working from home
-Humans being more stressed
-Owners relying on their pets to cope with the ever-changing situation
For cats they are having to deal with:
-A change in routine
-Owners disturbing them
-Losing control of their environment
-Increased stress which can bring on or amplify stress related illnesses
I am one of those 1.5 million extremely vulnerable people who will have to stay at home for several months, I’m on day 21 although it feels a lot longer than that. Luckily, I can dial into my practice computer and work from home! I have Holly my gorgeous little cat who is a double amputee (her tail and left front leg) at home and because of her disabilities she is an indoor cat. She is normally on my sofa when I go to work and is usually on a dining room chair when I get home – see the routine I mentioned earlier?
To try and help get your cat through this isolation period here are some things you can do:
-Keep the routine as consistent as possible
-Feed them the same food at the same time
-Give them space
-Avoid the cat’s area and resources as much as you can
-Be mindful of extra noise
-Give your cat an area they can retreat to away from where you are working, or the children are being home schooled
-Cats can still have access to the outside, there is currently no evidence that this is unsafe for them or you with regards to Covid-19. Shutting an outdoor going cat inside can cause them a huge amount of stress
-Potentially create multiple key environmental resource areas such as water bowls, food bowls and litter tray in case they are avoiding certain areas
-You can give them more opportunity to play if they want to
Don’t allow children (or other adults because let’s face it, cats are adorable) to disturb your kitty whilst they’re sleeping. If they’re walking around and approaching you then interact with them and offer them short sharp bursts of playing. But allow them to leave the interaction at any time. Of course, not all cats are the same, some will love the extra attention and having their family home with them. Whereas others will become very stressed and it’s not always easy to spot the difference.
If the cat is enjoying the interaction, they will most likely be purring, rubbing their face on things (excreting facial pheromones that say that place is safe), head butting, vertical tail, relaxed rolling over.
Signs a cat isn’t enjoying it is they will put their ears back, swish their tail, hiss, swipe and turn their head sharply. If they show any of these signs, then cease playing, stroking or whatever it was you were doing with them.
I’ve seen on social media that many people have seen this time at home as a good time to catch up on DIY, decorating or a deep clean. These are all things your cat is going to hate. Try to limit doing things in the areas your cat spends most of the time. If you have decorated an area they frequent, then place their bed or a piece of their bedding in the area to try to allow them to smell something they recognise. If deep cleaning, then try to only do one area at a time and avoid using strong smelling products too.
Holly certainly makes working from home more interesting, she just keeps stealing my pens, laying on my paperwork and likes to peak at being mischievous whilst I’m on the phone. Just like earlier when she started to try and chew my seedlings that are growing on the windowsill. I sometimes hide treats or some of her food in areas for her to find. She loves her snuffle mat which makes eating more fun. There are things you can get to help your cat get through this time such as Feliway spray which makes them feel more relaxed and help them deal with the changes. If you are worried about your cat, look out for these changes and you can always give us a call and we’ll do our best to help.
Hope you’re all staying home and staying safe and we’ll get through this.
Author: Menna Field RVN MBVNABlog topics