Going Back to Work? How it Could Affect Your Cat.
Cats love routine. Just ask our 9 yr old, Rupert. He can tell you when each of his meals are served. He will also let you know if you are late, by knocking the tv remote off of the end table.
More people are heading back into the office now that the Covid vaccines are available. For some people, this will be an easy transition back to an old and familiar routine. However, have you considered how this will affect your cat and its routine?
Cats are known for not liking change. That's true for a lot of cats, but certainly not all cats. When offices started closing down due to Covid this was a big change for people and everyone in their home. Including pets. Some people and their pets likely adjusted to the change of working from home rather quickly. Others might not have.
These were stressful times and still continue to be. Cats can be very sensitive to change, but also to how we are feeling and dealing with things. Unfortunately, this can often go unnoticed until your cat "tells you". Meaning, their behavior changes. Sometimes with unacceptable behavior. Hopefully, your cat was happy and content with having you home more often. I also hope that you found some stress relief by spending more time with your cat.
Now, with offices bringing people back, this is another change in routine for your cat. But wait, isn't this just like when you are home on vacation or the weekend? No. Those are shorter periods of time, and most likely, your cat is used to the weekend routine. Yes, vacation time might be longer than a weekend, and your cat might feel it needs to do some adjusting. But, not nearly the same as you being home for a year.
Your cat could have 2 different reactions when you go back to the office on a daily basis.
The first reaction would be that he or she will miss you! You might have spent more time cuddling or playing with your cat. You might have slept in more and/or stayed up later. Your cat likely adjusted to that new routine.
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Or, the other reaction is one of relief. Yes, your cat might be happy to go back to the old routine, as much as he or she loves you. Some cats prefer having more time to themselves and less noise or stress in the home.
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So, before you head back into the office on a regular basis (or if you have already), be sure to help your cat with this transition.
If you had been playing more often with your cat, continue to have fun play sessions when you are home. You may have less time, but having a fun play session is a great way of spending time with your cat and sealing that ever so important bond. Playing with your cat can also serve as a stress reliever for your cat (and you too!). Kind of like exercise can help people shed stress. An active round of play can do the same for your cat.
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If you spent more time hanging out with your cat, cuddling, watching tv together, etc... continue to do that as much as you can. You can always scale back on that gradually, but please don't stop completely.
Some cats might even experience separation anxiety, which could potentially cause behavioral problems such as not using their litterbox correctly. Try to spend quality time with him or her before and after work. Try to do this at the same time of day each day, so your cat will know when to expect this special time with you.
If you have not yet started working from the office, but know you will be soon, start the transition now with spending less time with your cat. Go out for an hour or more each day, to give your cat more time on its own. If your cat appears relaxed and has not shown any behavioral issues, reward him or her when you come back with a special tasty treat or extra cuddles.
If there are other family members in the home, include them in the new/old routine. Your cat won't understand that you might feel tired or not up to playing with him or her as often as you were, so if others can fill in, that would be ideal.
If your cat is experiencing a change in behavior, please contact your Veterinarian to arrange for an exam. If your Veterinarian rules out medical issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out and submit the Behavior Consultation Form.