Dr Lauren Finka shares her top tips for caring for your cat during isolation.
This is a worrying time for us humans. It may also be a strange time for our pets. The good thing is that there’s plenty we can do to help to keep our pets safe and happy.
Make it business as usual for your cat
- While our routines have been turned upside down, we should allow our cats to stick to theirs. Try to keep everything smelling familiar and in its usual place; this includes all your cat’s resources such as beds, food, hiding places, water, and litter trays.
- If your cat usually has access to the outdoors, allow him to keep going out. There is so far no evidence that Covid-19 can affect pets.
- Now might be a great time to safely and gradually introduce your cat to the garden. If there’s more human activity going on in the house than usual, your cat will appreciate the extra space.
- If you notice your cat is off sleeping somewhere, try your best not to disturb them.
- Keep feeding, play, and fussing sessions to their usual pattern, unless your cat is actively pestering you for more attention.
Allow your cat to practise social distancing too
- It’s important that your cat has lots of options to keep their distance from humans. Ensure there are various open, elevated areas, as well as concealed hiding places that your cat can go to, ideally in every room of the house, and particularly in quieter areas. Ensure all members of the family never disturb the cat when he is in these places.
- Provide your cat with some additional resources, such as extra beds, food bowls, water, litter trays etc, placed in quiet locations about the house.
- Be mindful of how much more attention your cat is getting. While some cats might rejoice in these extra fussing sessions, others may find it a bit overwhelming.
- Try to let your cat call all the shots. Even when your cat is initiating contact, be sure to pause every so often and see what he does next — if he doesn’t lean in for more fuss, he’s probably had enough. Also look out for: rotated or flattened ears, head shakes, nose licks, rippling skin on their back, suddenly going still and no longer purring, or sharply turning their head towards you or your hands; these are all signs that your cat has had enough.
Spend time creating nice things for your cat
- Now is a great time to get out in the garden and create the feline wonderland you’ve always been planning. Think about creating areas with thick shrubs for exploring in, wildflower patches to attract insects, places for climbing up, and warm, sheltered spots for snoozing.
- Have a go at making some DIY cat toys or puzzle feeders. These can be easy to make and provide your cat with a great form of enrichment. For some great ideas, check out Battersea's videos here.
- Create other indoor enrichment for your cat. This may be growing indoor cat nip, home-made cat-climbing frames, interesting cardboard boxes, or simply clearing some shelves and putting some soft bedding on top.
- Try some simple training with your cat to improve their well-being. For example, you can train him to come when called, to be comfortable in a cat carrier, and tolerate receiving a health check. For some great videos on how to do this, check out iCatCare's video here.
- If you are worried about becoming ill and not being able to care for your cat, make sure your friends or family have a spare key and can check in on your cat.
- If you know of any at risk people with pets, you could offer to be their pet’s ‘designated guardian’ should anything happen. Ensure you protect yourself from possible infection when caring for someone else’s pet, especially in the first 14 days of entering their home.
- If you want to make certain that your cat will be cared for and responsibly homed should the worst happen (and hopefully it won’t!), various homing organisations offer a service where you can register your and your cat’s details and request that they take over the care of your cat if it was necessary.
Get into the habit of washing your hands after you have handled your cat, particularly if he goes outside. While experts are still learning about the virus, we all need to remain on top of hygiene.
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This feature was written by Dr Lauren Finka, and is from our May issue, on sale April 15, 2020.
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