Recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been spending more time at home. Our pets have likely enjoyed the quality time with us but your cat might miss your presence once you and your household return to work and school. Some signs that your cat is experiencing stress and/or anxiety are: crying more often as you get ready to leave, destructive behavior while you are gone, inappropriate urination and excessive self-grooming leading to bald patches in their fur.
Here are some ways to help your cat cope with the stress of you being gone.
- Leaving the TV or radio on. Some cats enjoy seeing birds and other wildlife on TV. Other cats may find this stressful because they are unable to “hunt and catch” the animal on the TV. For these cats, the radio would be a better choice. Do a few trial runs of each type of audible distraction for your cat and see how they respond before you try it for the first time you leave.
- Set out a variety of toys to keep them entertained. Hang mobile type toys from new locations to create interest. We all know that cats love boxes, so having a box for them to jump in and out of regularly is a great way to entertain them. Put some windows in the box and add toys and catnip. Cat trees/posts for your cat to perch on in a window can give them their own personal TV channel as they watch for birds and passing people.
- Put your cat’s daily portion of food into an activity ball that they need to move around to allow the food to fall out of the toy. This extra exercise your cat will get will help them keep fit and they might even lose some weight! Remember to use the same amount of food you would normally put into their bowl, so you do not add extra calories to their day.
- Add in a calming pheromone specific for cats called Feliway. This is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone that happy cats produce when they are rubbing furniture, people, and doorways. The pheromone is a sign that they are comfortable in their environment so Feliway gives them a sense of calm. Feliway comes in a handy plug-in diffuser that lasts up to 30 days and should be placed in the area that your cat spends the most amount of time in (such as the living room). Humans cannot smell the pheromone as it is physiologically specific to felines. This makes it one of the easiest ways to help your cat cope.
Keeping our cats happy keeps everyone happy! Try one or all the methods above to give your cat positive ways to spend their time while you go out to work or school.