The global pandemic required most of us to adjust to working and living under a stay-at-home order. The quarantine may not have been easy for you, but your feline friends probably loved the extra quality time and attention. Now that stay-at-home orders are starting to lift, your cat might not understand why you’re no longer there to snuggle and play. In order to reduce anxiety and stress for your cat companion, help ease them into you not being around for the regularly scheduled afternoon catnap.
Although cats are stereotypically aloof and quite independent, they develop a bond with their human and can become stressed when they are left alone. Your cat has become accustomed to you being around, so it may come as a bit of a shock when you walk out the door to head back to the office. Cats will show you if they are feeling anxious through signs such as hiding, overgrooming, excessive meowing, or attempting to mingle their scent with yours by not using their litter box. Be sure your pet has a safe place to relax alone, and the use of synthetic pheromones can help keep their anxiety at bay.
Cats are sensitive to change in routine – if you adjusted their routine while you were home, slowly adjust it back to what worked before the stay-at-home order. For example, if you fed your cat multiple times throughout the day while working from home, begin to adjust their feeding schedule to be manageable while you’re gone. Your cat is a natural hunter, so introducing a puzzle-feeder to help enrich their alone time with a mental and physical task will benefit them greatly. It’s also important to engage with your cat at least once a day with a wand toy. Allowing them to express their hunting instincts will build their confidence and remind them of your bond.
Similar to most things in life, practice makes perfect. Introduce the idea of you being gone gradually, as you want to assure them that nothing bad happens when you go. Practice leaving for a few hours and when you return, pay attention to and play with your cat. Also, practice ignoring your cat a bit while you’re at home, so they remember how to be independent. Check out our post about music for cats to play to make sure they feel relaxed and comfortable when you are home or away. Your cat will feed off your emotions – don’t make leaving a dramatic event. Instead, leave them a treat and give them a cheerful goodbye as you leave.
During the pandemic, the time spent with your cat brought you closer together. If you ease your cat into being left, and make sure they have something to do while you’re gone, you will probably miss them more than they miss you!