Thursday 14 May 2020

Keeping cats happy during lockdown – tips for contented felines

We’re all living in a strange new world at present as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. What we once (recently) took for granted has become remote and different – we can no longer ‘pop outside’ whenever we wish, and for many of our feline companions this is the same.

Cat owners may be worried about possible transmission of the virus via their pet; all sorts of ‘information’ (and misinformation) is appearing on social media that is not necessarily helpful. There have even been instances of pets being abandoned at sanctuaries by fearful owners.
However, evidence currently shows that cats and dogs can’t catch the virus themselves, but if they are stroked by someone who has it, it may be possible to transfer it onto their fur.

This graphic, produced by World Animal Protection, is useful and reassuring.

You may feel safer keeping your cat indoors. For a cat who is usually an outdoor free-roaming feline this will be a big change. However, there are easy ways to make indoors fun and comfortable for cats. In Fun and Games for Cats by Denise Seidl there are lots of ideas for making indoor time enjoyable for your feline. You can even identify their personality type and find the games they are most likely to enjoy.

If you are keeping your cat indoors, make sure that you have a litter tray in an easily accessible place. If your cat isn’t used to one, you’ll need to show him where it is, and perhaps place him in it at regular intervals until nature calls. Place it away from the feeding area and in a quiet location.

Make time for your cat, interact and reassure him. Even older cats will play with encouragement, and the simplest things can become toys and give hours of entertainment. We all know that cats love boxes, so if you have an empty cardboard box let your cat explore it. Toys that can be chewed, chased and rolled on are what cats love best, especially if they are infused with catnip! If you don’t usually have toys around roll up some paper, even better if it makes a noise. String or ribbon is ideal, too, just attach it to something so that it can move.

Being indoors for days with your cat is an opportunity to really get to know him and strengthen your bond. Observe his behaviour. Talk to him and spend quality time pampering him. It will increase his trust and loyalty and make him more affectionate.
Would you like to better understand why your cat behaves as he does, and build a better relationship? Try reading The One Minute Cat Manager – sixty seconds to feline Shangri-La by Kac Young. It’s full of helpful tips and tricks to bond with your pet.

So, try to make ‘lockdown’ a time when both you and your feline reconnect. He may be delighted to be seeing more of you if you are usually out of the house during the day. Make time to play, enjoy each other’s company and enrich his indoor time. He can still watch the world outside through the window (as can we!), and with nature enjoying the quieter streets and gardens there will be more to observe. Birds, insects and wildlife are thriving at this time of year, and it’s fun to watch your cat watch creatures from indoors. His hunting instinct will still be there, but he can’t do any damage behind glass!

If you have a bit more time to read and love cats, try Miouw! Cats really are nicer than people by the late Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS. It’s a lovely book about the cats who shared his life, full of anecdotes and happy memories.