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How to Prepare Your Cat for Your Return to Work After Working from Home

How to Prepare Your Cat for Your Return to Work After Working from Home

Our cats have enjoyed having us home during the COVID-19 Stay Home mandate. It will be important to prepare your cat for the day you go back to work so they do not experience stress or fear when they are alone. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.

Step One: Know what your cat is thinking, feeling, and saying with their body language

  • Knowing what your cat is feeling will help you know how comfortable they are when they are learning to be alone: See Body language of feline anxiety (infographic)

Step Two: Gather your enrichment supplies

  • Enrichment will help distract your cat, prevent boredom, and make alone time rewarding so it is smart to leave your cat with enrichment when you are not home. Feline Enrichment (Facebook group) and Five a Day Felix (tutorial) have some great ideas for cat enrichment.

Step Three: Prepare your environment

  • Play white noise, David Teie’s Music for Cats, or classical music, when you are not home to muffle the increased outdoor sounds your cat will hear outside when activity levels are back to normal.
  • Try adding a Feliway pheromone diffuser to your home — pheromonal therapy makes many cats feel more safe and secure.
  • Make sure your cat has access to a cozy, soft bed to rest on, low hiding spaces (such as under a bed or in a cat tent), and high places to perch (such as shelves, cat trees, window sills). Being comfortable and being able to access hiding places and perches helps cats feel safer.
  • Cat proof your home by making sure all unsafe items are put away and not left on counters or tables that a cat can easily access.

Step Four: Hands-on alone time training

  • Pick a cue to tell your cat that you will be doing this training such as “Be right back!” Use it each time you depart. Turn on a white noise machine or soothing music just before leaving and give enrichment items to help them through each training period. Leave your home starting with just a minute or two at first. Do not make a big deal of your arrivals or departures.
  • If your cat is comfortable with your initial departure period, slowly increase your departures by two-minute intervals once your cat is successfully able to tolerate previous shorter periods of time alone. If your cat is crying or pacing during any alone time training periods, you are moving too fast and your next departure must be shorter. More practice at an easier level needs to be done before moving forward again.

Step Five: Consider treating your cat to a visit from a friend or pet sitter

Pet sitters can do short enrichment visits for cats that can be great loneliness busters that break up the monotony of the day. Many cats enjoy a mid-day play or brushing session. Here are some recommended providers:

Step Six: Assess for serious behavior issues

Some cats have separation-related anxiety and panic — these are very serious attachment disorders that need to be treated with the help of a veterinarian and a humane behavior professional. Seek help right away if your cat is experiencing any of the following symptoms when left alone:

  • Mournful crying or yowling that lasts more than a few minutes after you depart
  • Complaints from neighbors of excessive vocalization
  • In-home destruction
  • Loss of litter box training
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Significant pacing and inability to settle or sleep
  • Hair loss from overgrooming

Disclaimer and waiver of liability

By using the information presented here you agree to the following: In no event shall Mega Hearts, LLC. its contractors, employees, or partners be liable for any direct, indirect, punitive, incidental, special, or consequential damages whatsoever arising out of or connected with the use or misuse of any information presented here. You agree and acknowledge that any training and behavior advice be used at your own risk and you should assess the risks individual to your animal(s), any animal(s) in your care, and those that interact with your animals/animals in your care before using any advice or information with or for any animal.