How to get through isolation with your cat

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Staying at home is vital to helping to save lives during this pandemic. Here’s a guide to making the best of the isolation period with your feline friend.

So, you’re isolating and your cat has likely never had so much attention. If you have to isolate though, who wouldn’t want their feline friend to be with them? Here are some tips to help you and your cat be as happy and healthy as can be during this global pandemic.

Stay safe

The advice from the Government right now is to stay inside your homes and avoid social contact as much as possible. You can take a walk for exercise and buy food, but you’re best adhering to the World Health Organization’s official advice for avoiding the virus; visit www.who.int for all the latest, detailed information. Handwashing is also more crucial than ever at this time.

Reassuringly, International Cat Care emphasises there is no evidence people can share the virus with pets. The charity emphasises good hygiene after handling your pet, their food bowls, and to avoid kissing them. That said, they do advise those actually with Covid-19 to restrict contact with their pet until more is known about the virus. The charity doesn’t recommend keeping your cat from going out, if that is what he normally does.

Be prepared

Make sure you stay up-to-date with the clinic hours of your local vet’s, and that you have contingency plans in case it is not open when you need to see your vet the most. We need to make sure we have the cat food, litter, and medicine to keep our cats happy and healthy, but think of others before stockpiling.

It’s sensible to make provision of who would look after your cat if you needed medical treatment. Ask a friend or research local cat sitters or catteries, just in case.

Build a new routine

Routine is something that’s integral to our — and our cats’ — physical and mental well-being. We don’t know when this will end and our routines have been been thrown out of the window. Thankfully, if you have a cat, you already have a caregiver duty to structure your day. You know you have to get up at a certain time and feed your cat, and do it again later in the day — keeping this routine will help make your cat feel calmer.

Your diary may be empty but creating a new routine will help you feel more comfortable. It could be that you schedule in time to play with your cat, set yourself a project (which could include making something for your cat — see ideas here), a home exercise regime, or even just household tasks. Devising a timetable will develop some normality to life.

Get exercise

Thankfully, cats are a lot more independent than dogs when it comes to getting the exercise they need, but humans and cats can still succumb to laziness. We can always tempt our cats to get off the rug with the classic string or mouse toys, or by making their environment more interesting with puzzle feeders, scratching posts, or interactive toys. For us humans, we can still go on a walk or cycle, but chances are we’re feeling a lot less active without our gyms, sports, or exercise classes. My yoga teacher, Ashley Ahrens, like many personal trainers, has taken to teaching online classes via Zoom (the online video conferencing tool). You get to do yoga from the comfort of your own home and your cat gets to participate! If you want to join Ashley’s classes, you can find her on Instagram at @ashleyahrens.yoga Online classes can mean exercise is still sociable.

Find a regular workout that you enjoy — exercise produces endorphins that will help make you feel good.

Practice mindfulness

Cats are good at reading the room. Research from Nottingham Trent University shows it’s not just in our heads — cats can pick up on when we’re stressed. The downside is that our anxiety might rub off on them.

If you’re feeling uneasy, it might be a good time to give mindfulness ago. Mindfulness, which derives from Buddhism, offers the reassuring idea that we are not our thoughts and experiences, but a witness to the present moment. If we can watch the thoughts and feelings as one would watch a dark cloud, we can remind ourselves that all dark clouds will pass. In light of the pandemic, many mindfulness apps are offering free subscriptions and resources, including meditation apps Balance and Calm.

Give your cat space

As we’re stuck inside, it’s comforting to have our cats around to cuddle. That said, we need to remember that cats like their space and to respect their alone time. Whether that means climbing up high or venturing outside, let your cat control their movements and don’t overwhelm him with attention. Our home might be more crowded than normal; we all need to be respectful of each other’s space.

Watch a cat-themed film

Now is a good time to curl up with your cat and watch cat-themed films. Here are my top recommendations:

‘A Street Cat Named Bob’ — A feel-good film based on a true story about a homeless man, and his cat, who busk together to get off the streets.

‘The Cat Returns’ — For pure magical escapism (which could be ideal right now), this Japanese anime film is fantastic. It follows a seventeen-year-old girl who finds herself engaged to a cat prince in a magical world.

‘Take Care of My Cat’ — Korean films, including the Oscar-winning ‘Parasite’, are having a bit of a heyday at the moment. ‘Take Care of My Cat’ is a coming-of-age story where a stray kitten, Tee-Hee, symbolises friendship ties.

If you want comfort and familiarity, you probably can’t do better than watching classic films featuring cats, including: ‘The Three Lives of Thomasina’, ‘The Aristocats’, and ‘Homeward Bound’.

Read cat-themed books

We can’t travel, but books can take us beyond the confines our home. Here are some cat-themed books to treasure: ‘The Guest Cat’ by Takashi Hiraide — This is a Japanese novella about Chibi, a cat who brings joy to a couple’s life. It’s a beautiful, lyrical read, and its atmosphere stayed with me for days.

‘Cat Women’ by Alice Maddicott — Alice found herself enthralled by old photographs of women and their cats. In this book, she captions these found photographs with imagined stories to preserve their memory.

‘The Cat Inside’ by William S. Burroughs — Better known for his experimental novels, this book is part Burroughs’s autobiography, part a meditation on the mysterious shared history between humans and cats.

‘The Travelling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa — Cat Nana is on the road with his beloved owner Satoru. This inter-species friendship and the unexpected turns provide both human and cat a sense of wonder and joie-de-vivre.

The Your Cat Isolation Kit

If you need more inspiration, we have a free isolation kit online for our readers, with things to do and helpful advice! See Isolation Kit here.

Read Your Cat Magazine

This feature was written by Elizabeth Sulis Kim, and is from our May 2020 issue, on sale 15 April, 2020.

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