Avoid Future Separation Anxiety Problems
At some point the self-isolation will be lifted and it’ll be time to return to work or school and schedules will become tight once again. Your cat will have become used to having you around 24/7 and it could be very confusing that first day you leave the home. Make sure, as you interact with your cat and enjoy all this special quality time, that you also offer independent and confidence-building activities. Keep up on the regular routine of interactive play sessions and – this is important – maintain those sessions after the isolation period is over. Interactive playtime should be done twice a day for at least 15 minutes each session. This is such an important activity for letting a cat exercise his mental and physical skills as a hunter. If you haven’t been doing twice-daily interactive playtime, get started on that today. Here’s more information:
Provide independent activities such as puzzle feeders and puzzle toys so your cat enjoys doing things on his own. Place his solo toys such as fuzzy mice and crinkly Mylar balls in interesting places for him to discover. Keep this up as something to do before you leave the house each morning so he’ll have fun activities to keep him occupied during the day. Even something as simple as hiding toys inside boxes or open paper bags (without handles) can provide a few moments of entertainment and exercise while your cat is left home alone.
If you know your cat already suffers from separation anxiety, do some training now so it doesn’t become worse. Certain pre-departure behaviors may be triggers for your cat, such as when you pick up your keys or grab your purse, briefcase or when you put your laptop in a case. Practice doing those trigger behaviors without leaving the house and then work up to performing those behaviors, walk out the door for a few minutes and then come back in.
When you do prepare to leave, don’t make a big deal out of your goodbye. Big, dramatic goodbyes may make your cat feel as if you’re never returning. Remember, cats are little emotional sponges. Keep your goodbyes and hellos very casual so you don’t set off alarm bells. Here’s more on separation anxiety:
Maintain Ongoing Good Training
Once you are back on your normal schedule, don’t lose ground with all the good training you’ve done while in self-isolation. Although you may not be able to dedicate the same amount of time, do the best you can to continue with the good work you’ve started.
Need More Information?
For more information on cat behavior and training, refer to the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Her books are available in bookstores everywhere, through your favorite online book site, and also here on our website.