Life with Our Cats During COVID-19, and After…
by Rita Reimers, Multi Cat Behavior Expert
“Help! My cat is driving me crazy during this quarantine….”
As a cat behavior expert, I’ve been hearing that a lot lately. I have 19 of my own cats in my own private sanctuary, so I understand!
Right now, we have a whole new set of kitty challenges to conquer, as our world deals with this horrible pandemic. I’ve been asked about it many times. As people are spending more time at home with their cats, they’ve begun to notice behaviors they never saw before, and they’re wondering what to do about them.
I love sharing my knowledge to help other kitty parents have a better relationship with and understanding of their own kitty kids. Here are a few of the most often asked questions about Cats and Covid-19, and my answers.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cats and COVID-19
Is it Normal for My Cat to Sleep this Much? If you are normally away working for many hours each day, you may not realize just how much cats sleep. But as you are at home sheltering in place everyday, you may have started to wonder if your sleepy feline is perhaps sleeping too much. Rest assured, your cat is purrr-fectly normal. In fact, cats normally sleep 16+ hours each day, so cuddle up and take a little cat nap with your baby.
Why are My Cats Behaving Badly? Is your cat suddenly acting crazy? Is your usual angel suddenly not behaving so angelically? Cats are creatures of habit. They don’t love change! Before you started staying at home, your cat had his daily routine, then suddenly everything changed when you began staying at home.
Take a two-part approach to these quirky behaviors. First, do not give attention for bad behavior. If you see kitty getting into trouble, quietly pick him up and move him without speaking. Cats want attention, and they will take negative attention over none at all. Next, start a new routine. Set some regular times for play and positive attention, since cats thrive on routine and predictability. It makes them feel more secure.
Can Cats Spread Covid-19? Recently the news alerted us that two cats in the USA, as well as a number of Tigers in zoos here, became ill and tested positive for Covid-19. This news started a panic in some people, who feared their cat could get them sick, and some were even surrendering their precious felines out of fear. Here’s what you need to know. Although the Covid-19 virus was found in the cats, what’s really important is that the cats became ill AFTER their owners and/or zookeepers did. Your cat can’t infect you, although you can share the virus with your cat. I am happy to say, the last report said the owner and kitties are all doing fine, and so are the Tigers.
Life After Covid-19: This pandemic will pass, and we’ll once again be away at our jobs all day long and leave our felines home alone all day. Since our cats adjusted to and came to enjoy our constant presence at home, you may find behavior issues begin once you return to work. Most likely, these behaviors will be driven by separation anxiety. The best way to make your kitty happy is to mimic natural cat behaviors in your home.
Remember to Follow The 4 PEGS
The core of your cat’s daily activities center around The 4 PEGS: Play/Prey, Eat, Groom, Sleep. You can use this knowledge to help your cat adjust to yet another change in the household routine.
P = Play/Prey: Cats in the wild will spend much of their day hunting meal prey. You can meet their need to hunt by offering mock hunts, disguised as Play. Wand toys are excellent for playing with your cat! As he catches that toy, he will satisfy his need to hunt and catch his meal!
E = Eat: After cats catch their prey, it’s time to eat. So, right after Play, feed your kitty.
G = Groom: After they eat, cats in the wild will bathe themselves to remove any smells that may draw another animal to them. This will happen naturally in your domestic indoor kitty, too.
S = Sleep: Right after grooming, your cat will catch a nap, so his meal can be digest in peace.
Start this routine while you are still at home during lockdown; do this routine each morning and evening. A little play and food in the morning and they will go to sleep while you go off to work and not even know you’re gone. At night, repeat this pattern at the end of the evening. Your cat will be ready to curl up for sleep at bedtime, so you can get some undisturbed sleep, too!
Deepen Your Bond During Quarantine
While we’re all stuck at home, this is the PURRfect time to cultivate a deeper bond with your cat, so you can understand why he behaves the way he does. Use this knowledge to not only curtail bad behaviors, but also to start some brand new daily habits that will be rewarding for you both.
Vicky Smith says
This does not happen with a Burmese,we are retired and have a 10 year old neautered male.He spends all day awake,sometimes short nap in the afternoon.We take him for walks on a lead to wear him out,and we enjoy it too.He has to be with us interacting all day,even when I try to have a nap,he will want to lie across my neck purring loudly in my ear,he is playful affectionate loving but so demanding of our attention.We have a large garden and try to keep him in it,but since lockdown,not much traffic around so aloud out.we are moving soon into 3rd story flat ,in a retirement complex,we are dreading the thought of trying to amuse him all day,any advice apprieciated.
Rita Reimers says
Is this new behavior for him, or just since you’ve been home more? Does he have cat trees and self-play toys to keep himself amused? Did he used to have another cat in the household? All these factors could be contributing to his relentless need to be near you.
Allowing a cat to go outside can also cause a host of unexpected behavioral changes, and since you’ve been taking him outside more I suspect that could also be a factor.
My Toby has suddenly become quite restless and he whines constantly when he’s not sleeping. He has started to wake me up in the middle of the night. Not sure if it’s for attention or to be fed. His appetite has also markedly increased since the pandemic.
Rita Reimers says
Has Toby been to the vet recently? If not, it sounds like a check up is in order. There are illnesses, such a Hyperthyroidism, that can cause restlessness and increased appetite in cats. It is easily treated with Methimazole.
Please let me know what you find out!