Did you know vets and behaviourists around the world are bracing ourselves for the wave of post-pandemic separation anxiety cases coming to hit us in the next few months?
Reason is simple, many of us have been at home with our cats for months at this stage! In Ireland and around the world, the lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted, and many people are returning to work.
Although we know that cats are reasonably independent animals, the sudden drastic changes this year (both directions!) can still be a dramatic experience for them.
Government regulation varies, depending on where you are, if where you are is still pretty “restricted” with you spending most of the time inside, you might want to read the previous “during the pandemic” post.
If where you are is “opening up”, then this post now is what you need.
As a cat behaviorist and cat parent myself, I know how important it is for cat owners to make their feline family members happy! And I want to help you and your cat cope with 3 useful tips for post-pandemic feline separation anxiety:
1. I’m sure your cat received tons of attention and extra love from you the past few months! And now that you’re going back to work, they may be expecting the same amount of attention. It’s important that you establish a routine for your cat so they when to expect attention from you. Studies shown that having a routine is helpful for all forms of anxiety – both humans and cats! You don’t need to make it super complicated. Try to incorporate the cat’s routine with your routine. For example, play with them a couple of minutes before and after work everyday. The key is – be consistent.
2. Your cats have also got used to the noise around the house and having people around. Another tip is to have a timer on your TV or radio, so it can be set up to turn on and off at certain times in the day when you’re not at home. I have clients who use voice recording of their own voice. You might want to explore that option if you can use voice recording to incorporate with your smart home technology so that your voice will come up a few times a day.
3. Try to use a cat camera! Camera is a bit of a misnomer at this point as pet “cameras” these days can serve many functions. Some of them allow you to play with laser pointer games your cat (always stop your laser point on a toy so that your cat can successfully “catch” their prey in order to prevent frustration) There are also cameras where you can drop your cat treats using an App on your phone. This will be a great interactive way to see what they’re up to, talk with your cats during the day so they can hear your voice. Check out this one and this one.
4. Think about hiring a cat sitter for a few weeks to do mid-day drop in. Not only you are giving your local cat sitter some much needed work (they haven’t worked for several months at this stage!) it will also help your cat slowly “wane” off human attention.
5. Some workplaces are required to do that due to social distancing rule and that they can’t have full staff back in the premises yet. If possible, explore the option to work from home part of your week.
6. Keep your cat busy by doing “hunting games” with them. Use commercial food puzzles like this or this or DIY options.
7. Spending quality time with your cat when you can. Catnip, treats, playtime can do always do a lot of good.
8. If you notice significant anxiety, think about Feliway.
9. If you are in need of professional assistance, contact a behaviourist. I now offer virtual consultation globally to anyone who is in need of help. I offer 10 minutes FREE assessment before you decide if you want to book for a full hour consultation.
More resources: I explained more about post-pandemic anxiety and gave some extra tips on my Youtube channel. You can check the video here.
I do a safety post for Halloween every year, I wish I don’t have to do this warning post anymore but unfortunately I still have to.
As a result, here is a confession – I most absolutely HATE Halloween.
Every year, so many cats (especially black cats) falls victims of the ‘holiday fun’. Cats being chased, tails being burnt. Or even just the general noisiness scare them to no end.
I hope one day I won’t need to do this post anymore. Until that day arrives, let’s work on keeping our feline friends as safe and comfortable as possible.
Before I talk further, first and foremost…
Please remember to keep your beloved cats indoors this Halloween.
They might not be happy and start whining at the door, but between them being whiny and them being tortured by some people. You know which one to choose.
Now that they are inside, let’s talk about the danger around the house. Oh yes, there are dangerous are the house…
Pet Halloween costumes are becoming more common, but before you play dress up with them, make sure the costume doesn’t impair their movement, hearing, sight, or ability to breathe, eat, drink, or go to the loo. Also make sure there won’t be small bits that they might be tempted to chew and choke themselves. Better yet? Most of them don’t really like costumes, (dogs generally do like them, however, but DO NOT compare them to dogs, pleeeeease…) Substitute elaborate cat costumes for a simple, festive bandanna – most cats can live with that!
2. Trick or treaters
The constantly ringing doorbell and knocking on the door can make cats very nervous and more prone to running away. Set up a room with food and water bowl and a lovely loo for the cats, far away from the main door. They would rather snooze in front of a fire than dealing with ghosts and goblins, trust me. You might also want to make sure your cat has ID tags in case he or she accidentally freak out and run out of the door (if your cats are not microchipped, what are you waiting for?)
3. Chocolate and sweets
Keep the candy dish, bulging trick-or-treat bags, and purses containing sweets way out of paws’ reach in case they accidentally chew on them out of curiosity.
Chocolate is extremely toxic to cats. Signs of a chocolate poisoning: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination, heart rhythm abnormalities, and even seizures.
Xylitol is much lesser-known, but potentially fatal, toxin. It’s a sweetener used in sweets and cakes. Thank gawd it’s much less common in Europe. In cats, it can prompt a sudden release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Signs that your cat may have swallowed a product containing xylitol include a sudden lack of coordination, vomiting, lethargy and, eventually, seizures and possibly coma. Ultimately a cat that eats xylitol may end up with liver failure, resulting in death.
4. Hey! Watch where you are tossing those candy wrappers!
Those shiny and crinkly things are huge appeal to cats! If they chew them while playing and eat them by accident, it is potentially dangerous. It can make them sick and if you have a cat prone to chewing it could block their guts if they swallow a substantial amount of them.
5. Hallowmeow decoration
Nothing says “Happy Halloween” like an illuminated jack-o’-lantern. But I don’t think I need to tell you leaving a candle on without supervision while you have cats (or children for that matter) is asking for a disaster. Opt for LED candles for safer ambience. Another tips is this – if you don’t want your cats to ruin your decoration, you might want to keep them up high, as there is no way they are NOT destroying them. Full stop.
6. Feliway and Calm-eze
The buzz around Halloween could be a really stressful time for your cat(s), even if they are indoor cats, the firecrackers usually start going off a few days before Halloween. If you have a cat who are nervous, you might want to look into some additional help. Feliway and Calm-eze are particular useful around this time. You might want to start plugging Feliway in TODAY and start on Calm-eze.
If you are in Dublin, check out my favourite pet shop in city centre – Shauna Pet Shop. They have the full collection of Feliway products and Calm-eze products. Support local businesses, shop in Dublin Town.
Did you know there are lots of products at Ikea which are not meant to be for cats but make great cat products? They are reasonably priced and they will merge into your house decoration without screaming ‘cat stuff’! (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) Plus, since these items are not made for cats, it can serve other purposes too!
1. Step stools
Steps are great for cats who might have difficulty jumping up to their favourite windowsill or climbing up to the sofa or bed. Elderly cats, cats with arthritis or cats start to lose their sight will find these very helpful. Since these are not special cat stands, you can use these for other purposes! Getting the books on the top shelves? No problem!
I don’t actually childproof for my human child. I started teaching him about safety since the moment he started to crawl. As a result, he managed to navigate the stairs since he was 10 months old. However, I do have a few childproof items at home for the cats!
These are super useful in making sure to leave a gap for doors that you want your cat to have access to. e.g.. the room where they have their litter trays or their favourite room where their cat beds are, etc. These fingerboard will leave a big enough gap for your cat to push the door open and go through.
These could serve the same purpose as the fingerguard too, but I prefer the fingerguard because you don’t need to leave the door open forever with the fingerguard. With these, it takes more effort to remove them so to close the door. Not handy for places like bathrooms where you need to close a couple of times a day.
Ikea’s various wall shelves are super handy for any catification projects you might have.
Like this one, for example. You can see you can use shelves with different length to suit the situation in your house. Plus, IF your cat don’t use it, you can always put books! (We always need a Plan B when it comes to cat stuff since they very often don’t like what we buy them! UGH!!!)
Yes, these square things…classic Ikea item. They are super handy to make a cat tree. The advantage of this is its versatility. If the cat is not using the square, you can always put books and other stuff. You can even change things up whenever you want!
Here are a few examples how you can catify these units.
A complex cat tower with feeding area, steps, cat beds, cat litter, everything!
Don’t forget to check out many more cat projects using Ikea products on Ikea Hackers. If you type in ‘cat’ on the search, you will get 1950 results of cat related Ikea-hack projects! Some of the cat parents out there are really really creative! Check it out!
Have you got any Ikea item that you use for your cat? Comment below! I would love to see your idea!
While travelling with your cat internationally, sometimes it might not be possible to finish your journey in one day. You and your cat might need to look for lodging during transit. Plus, it is a good idea to break the car trip into session so that your cat can get rest. It is incredibly difficult to find pet friendly lodging in Ireland but situation has improved greatly in the past decade, a quick search on Booking.com gives us 38 options for Dublin. Not too bad in comparison to a few years ago, right?
And Europe Pet Net has some tips on their website on pet friendly lodging, let’s have a look!
Pet Friendly Lodging Guide
Most hotels in Continental Europe and Scandinavia are pet-friendly, but this is not always the case. When you are searching for a pet-friendly hotel or B&B – take the time to read the fine print before booking a room. Keep in mind that a published pet policy may be lacking and you must first call the hostel or hotel for clarification.
Some hotels will specifically list out the types of pets that are welcome. Small B&Bs may even require that your pet is crated while you are not with your pet in the room. Others may require a “pet deposit” upon check-in, to cover any damages if your pet makes a mess or chews up the curtains. Renting an apartment for holiday is becoming a very popular alternative to the standard hotel room and many of these are pet-friendly.
How can I find a pet friendly room?
There are several ways to search for a pet-friendly hotel online. Some are more efficient and user-friendly than others. Here are our recommendations for a quick, easy search:
Booking.com – On their home page, type in your destination, dates and how many guests. Click “search” and then look for the tabs on the left side of the page. Click on “Facility” and you can filter your search for ‘Pet Friendly’ places.
Tripadvisor.com – Trip Advisor is not just for hotel and restaurant reviews anymore. They have recently added a filter to their hotel and rentals search engine, allowing pet owners to select pet-friendly options easily.
Google Hotel Finder – Don’t just rely on your basic Google search for finding the best pet-friendly lodging. Google has developed a specific search engine just for this need. Put in your destination, dates and then search for the best prices. Google then allows you to filter for pets under “Amenities.”
Airbnb.com – AirBnB has become a go-to for people travelling on the cheap or for those seeking luxurious apartment rentals. Sometimes you can book a night on someone’s couch and save Fluffy a spot too! When you find a place within your budget, click on “Amenities” and it will tell you if the room is pet-friendly or not. While this method of searching isn’t as efficient as the others on this list, you can still find some great deals very easily.
If you use another website, you may not be able to easily search for pet friendly rooms. Often you have to find a place to stay within your budget and then find out if the place is pet friendly. If you book through a major hotel such as Radisson Blu, Hilton, Choice Hotels, Ibis, etc., their website should provide all details of pet policies before you book.
If you have been reading my blog, you should know I have started a project called – The Travelling Cat. The aim of the project is to get as much information and as many cat travelling stories as possible all in one place for the ease of cat parents around the world.
I have written a post before on some of my personal travelling tips, and today, I will refer you to another article from Europe Pet Net which will give you some more tips. I hope you find it helpful. You can read the full article by clicking to the link below.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles…and more!
Your journey throughout Europe may involve one or many methods of transport. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with each unique travel situation and how it may affect your pet. Of course, before you set off, make sure that you have all legal documents in order and reference our Check List. Never hesitate to contact the transport company for specific pet policies.
With the emergence of many ‘budget airlines’ throughout Europe, more people are able to travel and sometimes with their pets. Pet travel policies vary widely between airlines, so be sure to check with the airline before you book a ticket. Cats and small dogs often can travel within the cabin under your seat while larger dogs must travel in the cargo hold. If you need to travel with your Service or Guide Dog, let the airline know at booking, as these animals are allowed to travel in the cabin.
During certain times of the year your pet may not be allowed to travel in the cargo hold. The cargo hold is temperature and pressure controlled while in flight, but it is not while the aircraft is on the ground. This may mean that your pet is exposed to extreme temperatures. Some airlines, such as United, have a special pet service which holds the animals in a climate-controlled vehicle by the aircraft and loads them right before the doors are closed. This type of service prevents exposure to extreme temperatures once your pet is checked in, helping to prevent travel-related illness. However, this service does not help when there are gate delays after landing. The most common health problems encountered while flying include hyperthermia, hypothermia and dehydration. With proper preparation, these complications are rare.
Some airlines prohibit transport of certain breeds for the sake of the animal’s health. Brachycephalic breeds (those with “smushed faces” or very short noses, such as Persian cats, Pugs and Boston Terriers) are more likely to suffer from travel complications due to their unique anatomy. These dogs are more likely to suffer from hyperthermia or airway compromise. They also cannot cool themselves adequately when exposed to high temperatures or even when they are very excited. It is best for these breeds to travel on the ground or in the aircraft cabin.
Certain breeds may be banned by airlines or must travel in a special, extra-secure type of metal crate. These include fighting breeds and bulldogs such as Pit Bulls, Mastiffs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers. This is not necessarily because the airline views these breeds as dangerous to people; it is because these dogs have especially strong jaws. There have been cases in the past where Pit Bull-type dogs have chewed their way through a plastic crate and damaged the interior of the aircraft cargo hold while in flight!
To minimize stress while flying:
Pick a direct flight to your destination. Lay-overs increase the amount of time your pet is stressed and can contribute to dehydration.
Travel during the coolest time of the day if possible.
Get your pet used to the travel crate in advance. Most crate-trained dogs are very bonded with their ‘den’ and this may make travel less stressful for them.
If your dog is prone to chewing on fabric, don’t place a blanket in the crate. While soft padding may seem comfortable, some dogs decide to ingest it when they are bored – potentially leading to an intestinal obstruction.
The day before travel, freeze water in a container for your pet. Before setting off for the airport, attach this container to the interior of the crate or the door. The ice will slowly melt and help prevent spillage. Many dogs enjoy licking ice!
For other information, please see our Quick Travel Tips pages for Dogs and Cats.
Travel by Train
Train travel can still be stressful for your pet. The new sights, sounds and even the movement of the train itself can be unnerving. If it is possible, take your pet on a few short train trips before the big day. This can help him or her get used to the process.
Most trains throughout Europe are “pet friendly” but contact the rail company for pet policy details before booking.
While travelling by train, remember:
Keep your pet secure. Cats and small dogs should travel within a carrier at all times. Larger dogs should be kept on a short leash and on a secure collar or harness.
A water source should be accessible to your pet at all times. Carry a water bottle with you, as some trains may not offer opportunities to purchase water while aboard or the water in the bathrooms is non-potable.
Travel during the coolest part of the day. In some countries, trains are not climate controlled. If there is a delay, the cabins can become quite hot – exposing your pet to additional stress.
The movement of the train can sometimes cause motion sickness. For helpful tips about prevention of motion sickness in pets, click here.
For more tips on what you should take with you on the train, see our Quick Travel Tips pages for Dogs and Cats and Check List.