For many paw parents, working from home has become the norm over the last 2 years. Our pets have grown accustomed to having us around all the time. In most places, the pandemic lockdown is slowly lifting, and eventually, working parents will return to the office, leaving their furkids at home. It's natural to be concerned when the time comes. But, with a little preparation, your feline kids will be fine. Here are some simple tips for leaving your cat alone at home while at work.
How long can I leave my cat alone?
In general, it's fine to leave your cat alone for up to 24 hours, as long as they have a clean litterbox, access to fresh water, a comfortable bed, and a full meal before you leave. Every cat is different. Some will do fine being left alone while others will miss their parents terribly and may be stressed by their absence.
There is always the possibility that your cat has gotten attached to you and your presence. As such, apart from these necessities, here are some steps to make your absence less troubling to your pet.
What should I prepare beforehand?
1. Cat-proof your home
The last thing you want is to come home to shattered glasses or an injured cat. Stash away all your expensive, fragile items. Don’t forget smaller items like medicines, accessories, and stationeries. Most paw parents would have set up a home office during the lockdown, and there may be stationeries lying around. Keep them safely locked away in drawers.
Cats love house plants. They are easy prey, so keep them hidden to discourage your cat from eating them and dragging them around the house!
2. Set a routine
Would your current feeding and playing schedule still work when you return to the office? If not, you’ll want to start your cat on a new routine. It’ll take time for your cat to get used to the new schedule. So, start training your cat weeks prior.
You can train your cat to be comfortable with your absence. Start by leaving your cat at home alone for a short period. It can be as short as 30 minutes. Monitor your cat’s reaction and gradually increase the duration until you reached the duration of your working hours.
3. Prepare observatory and snooze spots
Cats love to watch and observe their surroundings. They spend hours perching at high places, especially near a window, watching the outdoors. Arrange a piece of tall furniture or place the Pet Rebels Cheap Bastards Atlanta 60 Cat Tree near a window. This will keep her engaged and entertained for hours while you are away at work.
The good news is, the this cat tree comes with a cosy cubbyhole which will be a great hideout and snooze spot for your cat.
On the actual working day
1. Restrict dangerous zone
Make sure to close all doors to rooms which your cat should not enter. Block off corners that you do not want your furkids to go into. Remember that cats are good climbers. The fence or gate must be high enough or be covered to stop your cat from climbing and jumping over.
2. Easy access to water
Leave plenty of fresh water within easy reach. Using a water dispenser will help to keep the water clean throughout the day. The Stefanplast Water Dispenser For Cats & Dogs comes with non-slip rubber feet to help ensure the feeder remains secure on the floor. As you will be away for the whole day, whichever vessel you use to dispense water – a cat water bowl or an intelligent drinking fountain, ensure that they come with a non-slip bottom to prevent your cats from accidentally spilling all their water.
3. Easy access to litter
You don’t want accidents outside the litter box! It’s not fun having to clean up kitty mess after a long day at the office. The best way to avoid the mess is to prepare a clean and fresh smelling litter box before you leave.
Here’s an environmentally safe cat litter, made with 100% natural pine with no added chemicals. It’s the Tom & Pus Pine Wood Cat Litter. It’s dust-free and the litter can be recycled into your garden, with no harm to the environment. More economical too as it features longer-lasting odour control, and you'll use 66% less than typical cat litters.
4. Make leaving fun
Distract her when you walk out of the door. This may help to lessen the initial discomfort that she may feel when she sees you leave. You can do this by hiding treats around the house and letting her hunt for the treats as you leave. But don’t stop there. Continue the fun by leaving around plenty of cat toys to entertain kitty while you are at work. Stuff some cat treats into the Kong Wobbler Treat Dispensing Cat Toy and let her continue her food hunt activity.
The Kong Moppy Kickeroo Cat Toy is another favourite with most cats. It makes a crinkling sound and comes with a floppy, feathery tail that will spark your cat to chase and wrestle for hours.
5. Play upon return
Your cat may miss you dearly while you are at work. Make sure to reward her with plenty of play upon your return. It will reassure her that you'll come home every day and shower her with love!
For the first few days, you may want to monitor for signs of separation anxiety like:
Not eating or drinking
Making a mess outside the litter box
Excessive vocalization – lots of meowing. You may not hear this, but your neighbours will.
If you noticed signs of separation anxiety, even after you’ve done everything right, you may want to hire a cat sitter to spend the day with your cat or ask a fellow feline parent if they can help to check in on your cat while you are away. This can help to reassure your furkid that she is not abandoned.
It’s normal for any paw parents to worry about their cats when they are out. If you make sure kitties' needs are met, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practising Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.