Working from home and remaining efficient can be challenging in and of itself, but when you add a needy cat to the mix, it can feel downright impossible to get things done.
And, with many businesses implementing a work-from-home policy in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, many pet owners are experiencing these fluffy, cute distractions firsthand.
However, with a little patience, empathy, and determination, you and your feline will find a rhythm that works for you, allowing you to be as efficient as possible even though WFH.
1. Play before work
If you have an energetic cat that likes to chew on all your cords and attack your pen when you're trying to write, a little exercise can help to wear them out! A few minutes of playtime with a favorite toy, such as a feather wand, laser pointer, or flyer toy, will exhaust your cat and allow them to sleep rather than trampling on your keyboard.
Encourage playtime away from your workspace. If you want to take a break and play with your cat, a laser pointer can be a fun and simple way to keep your kitty amused while still keeping them away from your work area.
2. Give your cat their own space
Why do cats have such a strong desire to walk across our keyboards or block our webcams during important conference calls?
When it comes to staying productive while WFH, this attention-seeking behavior is definitely the most destructive, particularly because shooing them away typically only results in them jumping right back up!
Provide your cat with their own place or room to keep them away from the keyboard. This might be a soft cat bed by your desk, a chair with their favorite blanket by a windowsill so they can watch the birds, or a shallow cardboard box, which is my cat's personal favorite. Sprinkle catnip or your cat's favorite toys on the bed (or wherever your Kitty Spot is) to entice them to curl up.
3. Take snuggle breaks
Petting a cat (or other animal) for only 10 minutes has been shown in studies and trials to substantially lower cortisol levels in the body. Take a few minutes during your coffee break to show your kitty some love.
Spending time with your cat will stimulate the development of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that enhances a sense of well-being, in addition to reducing stress and strengthening your relationship with your cat. So make those snuggle breaks a priority!
4. Provide distractions that aren't you
Cats will sleep for up to 17 hours in one day. They do, however, need mental and physical stimulation in order to remain happy and safe - and out of your hair. A bored cat can engage in destructive behaviors such as scratching furniture or chewing computer cables. Provide your cat with some other, far more cat-friendly outlets for his pent-up energy.
Is your cat a bird enthusiast? Providing your cat with their own space next to a window with a lot of wildlife (birds, squirrels, etc.) can be a perfect way to keep them busy and away from your desk. Installing a bird feeder outside the window can also attract birds and other wildlife, providing additional entertainment!
Food puzzles make your cat forage for treats, stimulating both their brain and their bellies, if your cat is particularly food driven. Try videos of birds and small mammals to keep your cat occupied for hours, as well as electric/automated games, cat treat balls, and other toys to keep your cat entertained when you're at work.
5. Set a routine
Cats, like humans, may become accustomed to such routines. As a cat owner, you might already be aware that when it's time for dinner, your cats may begin begging you.
Depending on when you usually wake up, feed your cat, and so on, it might take some time to figure out what works best for you. Routine is beneficial to your cat just as much as it is to you!
6. Give them their own mini laptop
You might have noticed this trend circulating the web, but did you know that one of the reasons they could be plopping down on your keyboard and obstructing your work? Cats like to imitate our behavior, so giving them their own laptop may just be enough to keep them occupied!
So, if you have an old laptop lying around the house (or you might even make one out of cardboard or books! ), try setting it up next to your workstation in front of your cat and see if it works. It might just be a passing internet fad, but it's worth a try!