It would be fair to say the pandemic has hit us all hard, especially when it comes to our daily routine.
The same can be said about our feline friends, the truth is it has been pretty overwhelming for them too!
According to the latest PDSA paw report a post lockdown survey found that 23% of owners reported their cat was demonstrating a completely new behaviour since the start of lockdown. Behaviours such as begging for food, yowling and even waking their owners up at night!
Even before lockdown began a staggering 41% owners were reported as wanting to change at least one behaviour in their cats. But these behaviours are quite often linked to stress, something which lockdown has only exacerbated.
Our cats are very complex creatures and this extends to the way they display stress and anxiety. Quite often their human owners miss these subtle signs or simply do not realise that they are because of stress. Toileting around the home or scratching furniture and carpets are often common manifestations of an unhappy cat.
Due to the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns a large number of pet owners across the UK have been home a lot more over the past year. Working from home, homeschooling our children and taking up new indoor hobbies and DIY projects...our cats are suddenly very confused! All of a sudden we are all at home, making noise and inadvertently disrupting what was for our cat a very established routine. This is for the most part very stressful, in short, routine is sacred to them.
So what can you do to help?
The biggest thing is to recognise the changes in your home and understand how your cats’ behaviour has changed. Understanding your cats’ way of communicating is key for a normal happy healthy life together….even more so during a pandemic!
● Quiet time. Your cat will have favourite spots they like to retreat to when things get too much-they also tend to nap for anywhere up to 15 hours a day! If the house is suddenly very busy and those spots are now occupied, you need to find somewhere safe and quiet for your cat to retreat to. Cats also really like vertical space as it provides more security, so now would be a good time to clear the top of the wardrobe and create a place of sanctuary.
● Privacy please! Your cat may have happily used the litter tray when the home was quiet, but if it is located in a place that is suddenly frequently occupied or placed in a busy thoroughfare of the home, don't be surprised if your cat seeks somewhere more private, even if it is the back of the sofa! Ensure the litter facilities are placed somewhere with minimal distraction that provides all the privacy they need.
● Territory is as important as routine. Cats have scent glands in their paws so if your cat has suddenly started scratching up the furniture or carpet it is a way of desperately trying to establish territory. To help with this look at the areas they are trying to mark and provide a scratch friendly alternative, like a post or scratch mat which can help to divert those destructive claws. .
● Separation anxiety. This is also real for cats too. Remember when life finally returns to normal our cats will have another new routine to adjust to. Prepare for new changes in advance and ease your feline friends in gently.
● Plug-in pheromone diffusers or daily calming aids are recommended in some cases. These products promote happy feline feelings and may take the edge off until your cat can adjust to the changes at home.