The world as we know it has certainly changed. Everyone is experiencing such a mix of emotions as we drastically alter our lifestyle and try to stay safe and healthy during COVID-19 self-isolation. Every day brings hope though, as we learn about all that is being done to bring treatment, a cure, and hopefully a vaccine.
I know that during this time of self-isolation you have so much on your mind, but I wanted to provide a few tips to help you avoid some behavior issues that could develop with your cat, as well as use this time to enhance the relationship you share with your feline family. Here are a few tips to help you to keep everything going smoothly in your cat’s day-to-day life during a time when nothing seems normal anymore.
Stick to Your Cat’s Feeding Routine
During the time that you would normally be out at work or school, your cat would be sleeping, playing, or keeping himself occupied in his normal everyday way. Now that you’re home all the time, your cat may attempt to convince you that his food bowl needs a more frequent fill-up. You may also not realize how often you’re giving in to those meows by adding more food or offering more treats.
Stick to the feeding routine you’ve always had in terms of schedule and amount. When self-isolation is finally lifted you don’t want to come out of this with a cat who is now overweight. If your cat already has health issues such as diabetes, IBD, etc., you wouldn’t want to risk the complications associated with dietary changes. If your cat has arthritis, added weight can increase pain to joints.
Don’t give in to those mournful meows and pitiful looks. Stick to your already established feeding routine.
Watch for Attention-Seeking Behavior
Because you’re home so much, your cat may feel as if all that time should be focused on him. You might be watching TV, on the computer, reading, or playing a board game with family and your cat might view this as the perfect opportunity to get in the middle of things. While you should enjoy this extra time with your cat, be careful you don’t fall into bad training habits by rewarding unwanted behavior. Don’t acknowledge constant meowing, pestering or jumping up in the middle of things. Follow good training techniques by acknowledging and/or rewarding behavior you want to see again and ignoring the behavior you don’t want.
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To address attention-seeking behavior, figure out what the cat wants by the behavior so you can supply an alternative and set the cat up to succeed. For example, if your cat walks across your computer keyboard and meows every time you sit down at your desk, do a play session before you sit down so your cat gets the attention and activity desired in a positive way without resorting to unwanted behavior. After the game, offer a puzzle feeder or set up a fun solo toy such as placing a fuzzy mouse inside a paper bag.
Whatever the attention-seeking behavior is, try to figure out what the cat is asking for and provide an alternative beforehand. Here’s more information:
Attention Seeking Behavior in Cats
Address Multicat Issues
If you live in a multicat household and there has been tension between a couple of cats, you may have wanted to do a reintroduction but haven’t had the time. Well, now you have the time to separate the cats and do several short training sessions each day to help them change their association with each other.
Perhaps the indoor environment has needed a little tweaking to create more multicat harmony. Take this time to look around and see where squabbles have occurred so you can make needed changes to create more peace. Make sure there are adequate resources available in each cat’s core area. Maybe some cat shelves are needed or you’ve realized an additional litter box is required. Order the supplies you need online and use this time to make the environment more cat friendly.
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Here’s more information on addressing multicat issues:
Pam’s “Think Like a Cat” Reintroduction Method