During the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are your life has been turned upside down. Whether you are working more, working from home or are alone in self-isolation, many of us are trying to adjust to a new normal. And it isn’t just humans. Pets have also had to get used to the changes.
For one, they are enjoying a lot more one-on-one time with their owners. But what happens when the restrictions are lifted, and our daily routines go back to what they were pre-coronavirus?
Most of us will return to work, and our pets will be left alone, feeling confused, anxious, and even depressed.
As we slowly transition back to some semblance of normality, now is the time to implement a few changes that will help your furry companion cope being on their own when you return to work.
Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Cats
It is a common misconception that cats don’t suffer from separation anxiety. It could be because they are far more independent than their canine counterparts, or as a result of their ‘devil may care’ attitude towards life. But the truth is cats are incredibly social and form deep attachments with people and other animals.
Separation anxiety presents itself in various ways for cats. The most obvious signs that your cat isn’t coping being on its own include:
- Excessive grooming
- Destructive behaviour (clawing and scratching doors)
- Soiling outside their litter box
- Excessive meowing or crying when you leave
- Vomiting when you are around
- Weight loss as a result of being too anxious to eat on its own
- Overexcited greetings when you return home
But, as we have already mentioned, the signs could be a lot more subtle. If you aren’t sure, you could try this quiz. Once you know, you can take the necessary steps to help your cat establish a new and healthy routine when you return to work.
3 Easy Ways to Help Your Cat When You Go Back to Work
Helping your cat adjust to you not being at home requires understanding, patience and time. Experts recommend you start implementing changes sooner rather than later to make the transition easier on your kitty. Here are our top tips to help your moggy adapt to being left alone when you return to work.
1. Make sure your cat has plenty of stimulation
Cats need mental and physical stimulation, especially when you aren’t home. Make sure your cat has an enriched environment where it can relax, explore and play. Hammocks, scratch posts and hide ‘n seek tunnels are just a few of the accessories that will keep your cat entertained while you are away.
If yours is an Independent cat that likes to spend time outside, consider getting a cat flap. This will help your kitty feel in control and give it the freedom it needs.
2. Get other family members to help take care of the cat
Animals build close bonds with the people who care for them, so if you are going back to work soon, it is a good idea to get the rest of the family involved with its care. Teaching your cat that it can get food and attention from other people can reduce its dependence on you, and help ease any issues associated with anxiety.
3. Speak to your vet about anti-anxiety medication
If your cat is particularly anxious and you are worried about leaving it alone, you can speak to your vet about medications that can help with relaxation. There is a wide range of natural remedies, including hemp oil and rescue drops that can calm your pet when you go back to work.
Common Signs of Separation Anxiety in Dogs
During COVID-19, chances are you and your dog have spent loads of quality time together. But all good things come to an end, and soon you will be going back to work. Dogs are especially prone to separation anxiety and other behavioural issues when they are left on their own
While the symptoms may differ from one dog to the next, there are a few common signs you can look out for. These include:
- Visible signs of upset when you are getting ready to leave the house
- Unexplained aggression
- Excessive panting and barking
- Destructive behaviour
- Compulsive behaviour
- Pacing at the door
- Excessive drooling
Even though the signs of separation anxiety is more evident in dogs, you could do a wellness assessment quiz to make sure.
3 Easy Ways to Help Your Dog Adjust When You Go Back to Work
1. Get your dog used to being alone
Before you go back to work on a more permanent basis, it is a good idea to get your dog used to being on its own again. Start off by leaving the house for a few minutes, and gradually increasing the time you are away. Don’t make too much of a fuss of your pet when you return home. You need to stay calm, and only greet your dog once it has also calmed down. This will reduce any attention-seeking behaviour.
2. Ignoring your dog sometimes isn’t a bad thing
As difficult as this might be, it is essential that you sometimes ignore your dog when it is looking for attention. This allows dogs to entertain themselves, and not rely on you for company and entertainment. Also, as things slowly go back to normal, you should try giving your dog some time alone. Use a crate or create a cosy little space for your pooch to relax away from you.
3. Nip shadowing behaviour in the bud
If your dog displays shadowing behaviour, it is best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Stop your pet following you around the house by having another family member play with it, or hold it when you leave the room. You can also prevent this potentially destructive behaviour by training your dog to obey the ‘wait’ command, or by shutting the door behind you. Again, the best results will be achieved if you do this gradually.
Caring for Cats and Dogs Post COVID-19
According to experts, our pets are tuned into our emotions, and can often mirror what we are feeling. The most important thing you can do for your animal at this strange time is to stay calm and try not to stress. We know this is much easier said than done, but for your, and your pet’s peace of mind, it is the first step to adjusting to life after coronavirus.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this article as much as we did writing it. If you found it helpful, please feel free to share with other pet owners who are also preparing to leave their beloved pets alone since lockdown first began in March.