If you’re working from home for the first time, it’s not just a big change to your routine, but also to your cat’s. If they’re used to having the run of the house in the day, here’s how to help them adjust to sharing the space.
Office politics can cause ructions in even the closest of teams. But what if your newest officemate is your cat? Remote working has become increasingly popular in recent years, and the COVID-19 lockdown has meant that more of us are working from home than ever before.
As with any colleague, it pays to be considerate of your cat if you or other family members are suddenly around a lot more often. “Cats are generally very independent creatures with their own routines,” says APBC-certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist Inga MacKellar. “If your cat is used to the house being nice and peaceful in the daytime, having noisy people around all of a sudden can be upsetting.”
She recommends making sure you have safe, peaceful places in your home where cats can take refuge from noise. Meanwhile, keep your workspace as cat-friendly as possible by tying up loose cables, providing a comfy cat bed nearby and keeping mugs and other breakables away from the edge of your desk.
If you have a shelf unit or bookcase in your workspace, think about keeping one of the shelves free. “A high shelf is an ideal resting place – cats feel safe up there, peering down on everything,” says Inga.
And when your cat colleague won’t leave you alone?
Don’t be surprised if your cat is a bit of a “paws-on” manager who can’t stop prowling by your desk or jumping on your keyboard! “Cats have a way of doing that – it’s probably because you’re giving all your attention to your screen, instead of them,” says Inga. “It’s always a good idea to hit ‘save’ regularly.”
If your cat does keep leaping onto your computer, try to resist petting them, or they’ll only come back. “If cats aren’t getting the attention they want, they tend to wander off,” says Inga. “Or if you have a cat bed nearby, try popping them into that and giving them a stroke once they’re there. If that doesn’t do the trick, gently pick your cat up and put them down in another room.”
It’s also a good idea to keep some toys around to distract your cat from distracting you. “Food activity toys that tap into cats’ natural hunting instincts are great – and it’s easy to make your own,” says Inga. She suggests taking an empty plastic bottle and cutting holes in the sides that are slightly bigger than your cat’s dried food pellets. “Pop in some food, screw the lid back on and leave the bottle on the floor somewhere for your cat to bat around in order to get the food out.”
And don’t throw out those cardboard boxes that your office equipment came in. “Cats love boxes – leave an upturned box out for them to sit in, or create a maze of boxes with a couple of cat treats hidden inside,” she suggests.
How to be a good co-worker
You and your cat can be great company for each other when you’re working from home – but try not to go over the top. “It’s easy for us to use our pets as a bit of an emotional crutch when we’re anxious or stressed at work, which can be difficult for some cats to deal with,” Inga warns. “If you start forcing too much attention on your cat when you’re working from home – by picking them up and cuddling them all the time – it can be overwhelming and they may start avoiding you. Equally, a cat that’s already quite clingy may get used to receiving loads of extra attention and find it hard to cope when you go back to the office.”
Inga recommends limiting the amount of petting to ensure your feline friend doesn’t get overwhelmed. “If you’re working from home, it’s important to take occasional short breaks to stretch your legs – so that might be a good time to play a game with your cat or give them a stroke.”
Thanks to the generosity of our customers, the Petplan Charitable Trust has been able to contribute vital funds to animal charities to help get them through the Covid-19 crisis. £150,000 donated to the Association of Dogs and Cats Home (ADCH) Emergency Coronavirus Appeal and another £50,000 donated to the Covid-19 Equine Rescues Emergency Fund. We work in partnership with 1,200 animal charities across the UK and know this money is desperately needed to ensure they can continue to support the animals in their care.
We understand these are challenging times for our customers. If you have any questions about how your policy may be affected by COVID-19, as well as any changes to your cover, please have a look at our FAQs for the latest updates.