Planning now before you return to work or school from a COVID-19 hiatus can help deal with potential separation anxiety, according to behaviour experts at Best Friends Animal Society.
For many Americans, one of the few silver linings of the COVID-19 crisis has been the bond it’s created with their pets.
With humans hunkered down at home over the last several weeks, the new normal has been almost 24/7 togetherness amongst family members, including those with four legs.
And if you think cats are immune to separation anxiety, think again.
“Despite stereotypes that say otherwise, many cats form very close bonds with their humans and can become quite stressed when apart,” said Samantha Bell, cat behaviour specialist, Best Friends Animal Society.
According to Bell, cats that suffer from separation anxiety can become excessively vocal, overgroom their fur, or even eliminate on their owner’s items in an attempt to mingle their scents together.
“Practicing confidence-building activities and having an enriching environment can help prevent this,” she said.
Bell’s top tips for cat owners returning to work include:
- Engage your cat with a wand toy at least once a day. Allowing your cat the opportunity to hunt, catch and kill with an interactive toy will help build their confidence and strengthen their bond with you in the healthiest way possible.
- Ensure that whatever adjustments you’ve made to their routine while you’re home are
sustainable when you go back to work. If you’ve started feeding your cats 4 times a day while you’re home, start cutting it back to what is doable when you’re not working from home.
- If you’re not already using them, introduce puzzle-feeders to your cat. Cats instinctively want to forage for their food and puzzle-feeders satisfy that instinct while providing fantastic enrichment during alone time.
- Cats feed off from people’s emotions. So, when it is time to go back to work, making a big, sad, dramatic scene as you leave is only going to make them feel more stressed. A happy, light tone and a little treat as you leave will keep their spirits up.
For more information and cat behaviour tips, check out this article on understanding your cat’s behaviour.