Cats After Lockdown: How to Help Your Kitty Adjust as Routines Change
Lockdown has brought both physical and mental changes to our lives and, just as we have had to make changes to our daily routines and spend more time at home, our cats have had to adjust to us being around - which may not have been easy for them!
Cats are creatures of habit and any change in routine can be stressful for them, particularly if changes occur suddenly, as it did with lockdown. So, now that things appear to be returning to some sort of normality, what can you do to help your cat adjust to another different routine when you return to work?
Kitty changes to look out for
How cats cope with change differs between cats - some may take changes in routine in their stride and some may not. However, even though we might get the impression that everything is fine, we should keep an eye on their body language and subtle indications that they are not coping:
• Hiding: Remember that cats do like to hide, but if you find that your cat is hiding away more than normal, it could be a sign that they are feeling stressed or anxious.
• Overgrooming: We know that our cats love to keep themselves in tip-top condition, but if you notice that they are paying more attention than usual to a certain area or if they develop bald patches, it could be that they are overgrooming because they are stressed.
• Toilet habits: If your furry friend has started to soil outside of their litter tray, or they are urine spraying, they may be doing this to make themselves more secure by marking their territory.
• Eating habits: If you find your cat is losing interest in their food, and not being tempted by treats, they might be feeling anxious or stressed because they don’t understand why their routine has changed again.
• Increased vocalisation: If your cat is giving a low pitched yowl, or starts to meow more than normal, it could be a sign that they are unhappy.
How to help your cat adjust as routines change
When our life begins to return to normal, we need to consider how our furry friends will be affected. After all, they have adjusted to having a busy household for a few months with more people being around, and more human noise than they have been accustomed to. Now, they are going to have the house all to themselves again during the day - maybe they won’t have so many playtimes and it is going to be very quiet!
So, how can we help them adjust?
1. Start by slowly adjusting to the new routine that you know is coming up. Your morning routine should reflect how it will be when you return to work; you rise and have your shower, your cat’s feeding times may be affected, you might change the litter in their tray at a different time and your kitty playtime may have to be adjusted. If you start to make these small adjustments now, it will help your kitty adapt when the time comes and they will get used to the quieter and busier times of the day.
2. If your house is full of noise when you and your family are at home, with the TV or radio playing, consider leaving the radio on when you return to work. This will help your kitty adjust; whilst still at home, you can play some of your cat’s favourite tunes, as this is shown to have a soothing effect on cats.
3. When cats get anxious or stressed, they frequently like to hide or retreat to a safe place. Make sure you provide enough high space for them - they feel safer when they can retreat to a high, secure spot like a shelf, or the top of a cupboard. If your cat gets spooked by a sudden noise when you’re not around (like a car outside) they will need to know where their safe haven is.
4. But they also like a nice cosy bed, with their favourite blanket and toys - always ensure they have access to different spaces where you know they feel comfortable. If you have a multi cat household, the same applies to all of them - remember they don’t like to share! These comfy hiding places should stay consistent when you are at home and when you return to work.
5. Start to interact with your cat at the same time as you will when you return to work. Hard as it may be, while still at home try not to make a fuss of them during your normal future ‘working hours’ so that they can look forward to playtime in the evening when you return and they won’t be looking for interaction with you during the day.
6. Make sure they have access to all of their resources. Cats like to know where they can hide, sleep, scratch or go to the toilet, so make sure these stay in the same place when you leave for work - especially ensure that their litter trays are clean to avoid soiling outside the tray! If you have more than one cat in your home, each cat should have their own resources and usually one spare!
7. Make sure your cat has a scratching post near their resting spots that they are likely to use during the day when you are not there. Scratching helps cats stretch, and if a post isn’t there they may choose to use some of your furniture instead!
8. If your cat has access to outside space, make sure their route in and out of the house remains the same. This way they will be able to go outside and continue their normal outdoor activities whether you are there or not.
9. Introduce food puzzles and toys that they can play with on their own. If they get used to these now, it will be easier for them to adjust and continue to play when you are not around and will help to prevent boredom and keep them active.
If you notice that your cat’s habits are changing and they are not responding to any of the adjustments you are making, it is advisable to get them checked out by a vet to rule out any medical issues.
Support Your Cat With FELIWAY Classic
Using FELIWAY Classic will give you a head start to help your cat cope with the transition of returning to work and changes in routine. FELIWAY Classic helps cats with more signs of stress, in more situations than ever before, supporting happy serene kitties!
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