Before you click your heels and jet back out to the corporate office, you might want to think about how that change will affect your cat. Afterall, during the COVID-19 pandemic, kitty has likely been a constant companion as you’ve Zoom-ed into meetings from home. Still, even the coolest of cats can get stressed and anxious when there is a sudden change in an owner’s daily schedule. Separation anxiety in cats can be easily managed by following a few simple strategies designed to prepare your cat for the hours you’ll now spend at the office.
Cats and Separation Anxiety
Many types of behavior can be labeled as separation anxiety; often, those behaviors are just part of normal cat mischief. For example, just because your cat pulls apart a corner or carpet does not mean that kitty is anxious...he may have gotten his claws hooked on a thread of carpet and playtime ensued!
Animal behaviorists and veterinarians look at the context of behavior and the pattern of behavior before they will make a determination to label it as one thing or another. Separation anxiety is an emotional response triggered by separation from a person or companion pet with whom a cat has bonded. A crucial piece of information in determining if a behavior is separation anxiety or something else is identifying when the pattern of behavior occurs. If the behavior problems occur exclusively when the favorite, bonded individual is absent, that is a strong indication that a cat is experiencing separation anxiety. Usually, these behaviors occur within minutes of being apart, do not remit, and escalate over time.
In our previous blog post on post-pandemic vacation travel and cat separation, we described the most common signs of cat separation anxiety. Check out that post to learn more about the signs of separation anxiety such as:
Changes in eating habits
Sleeping more or not sleeping
Changes elimination (more frequent, constipation, eliminating outside the litter box)
Erratic, frantic behavior
Excessive behavior change (e.g., an aloof cat becomes more clingy)
How to get Your Cat Ready for Being Home Alone
With a little patience, planning, and purpose, you’ll find it is quite easy to prepare your cat for the change in routine when you return to commuting to work. Your purpose, of course, is to help your cat build-up her tolerance for the number of hours that you will be out of the house, at work. You will do this is stages, which you can plan according to your needs, anticipated work schedule, and your cat’s personality.
1. Slowly Increase the Time Spent Away from the House
During the pandemic, most pet owners left their cats alone just long enough for a walk, a trip to the grocery store, and the like. So, if you’ve only spent at most 2-hours a day away from the house and your beloved kitty, you will make incremental increases in your time out of the house, leading up to a full day. You will need to start this process at least 2 weeks before you resume your daily routine commuting into the office.
Start by spending more time out of the house each day. At first, aim for two hours. A day or two later, stay out 3-4 hours. Come and go at different times, but spend long-enough blocks of time out of the house until you can build-up to six consecutive hours away from the house. Leave appropriate forms of entertainment (see list below) available in order to make the separation easier for kitty.
With each day that you work on increasing your time away from the house, observe your cat’s behavior upon your return home. If you notice any of the signs of anxiety mentioned above, jot that down. You might consider leaving a room camera on to see how your cats react after you depart and what goes on while you are out. If the behaviors in question don’t improve, or the behaviors escalate as you spend more time away from the house, speak to your veterinarian.
2. Tips to Help Your Cat Destress While You’re at Work
Create a cozy space for the kitty to retreat to; fill it with soft toys, scratch pads, etc.
Leave music playing while you are home and when you depart
Minimize departure cues such as jingling keys, where you put on your shoes
Don’t fuss over leaving with a “good-bye kitty” voice
Provide a variety of toys / puzzles to keep them busy
Channel prey instincts by hiding food in toys
Why Choose a Professional Cat Sitting Service?
A cat sitting service is a loving, compassionate solution for your cat’s care while you are at work. If your cat is struggling with separation anxiety, a professional cat sitting service is a compassionate solution. Kitten Sittin’ of Delaware sends their trusted staff to your home for feedings, cuddles, and playtime with your cat.
Unlike many pet sitting services that hire independent contractors, all of our employees are directly hired by us. This means your cat can develop a relationship with a trusted animal caregiver whom they can form a reliable bond with during your time away from home. Your cat will receive the attention and affection she will miss from you while you are at work.
When you contact Kitten Sittin’, you’ll have the opportunity to speak directly with one the owners. You’ll immediately sense the passion that goes into everything they do and understand why so many cat owners from the greater Wilmington area trust Kitten Sittin’ employees to take care of their cats.
“They’re Not Loners: Cats can have Separation Anxiety, too.” retrieved from FreeFreeHappyHomes.com
TodayShow: “Help Clingy Pets Cope withYour Return To Work”