Over active thyroid?There’s absolutely no doubt about it, this worldwide pandemic has caused millions of people to find themselves at a loose end.  Being on lockdown, either in self-isolation or practising social distancing, (or like me, on 12 weeks lockdown because I’ve been identified as being at risk as I’m vulnerable) for many people this is something we’ve never had to deal with before.  Some folk are embracing this new ‘normal’ and catching up on household chores that they don’t have time to do when they’re out of the house at work each day.  Others, perhaps, lacking drive and direction, drift through each day, wearing sweatpants or pjs, eating their way through their ‘lockdown larder’ watching daytime soaps. (Slimming clubs will certainly cash in when life returns to ‘normal’ – they’ll be overrun with folk who’ve put on weight through enforced inactivity.   

But before you start feeling sorry for yourselves because your lives have changed, take a moment to think about how this is affecting our pets. Maybe you’ve not thought about how YOUR life and YOUR actions have an impact on your pets, but they do.  Everything we do directly has an impact on those closest to us, and that includes our pets.

Dogs, being pack animals wake up each day and think, ‘Great! You’re home!  Let’s play fetch!  Let’s go in the garden (or yard) and you can throw me things and I’ll get them for you!  Yippee! You’re home with me all the time! I’m so lucky and blessed!’

A cat’s response is probably not printable on a website which caters for people (and children) of all ages. Casey and Gibbs have only ever known me being at home.  Other than when I’ve been on holiday and a friend comes to stay in my house for those two weeks to look after them, they’ve always had me at home with them all the time.  So, they are used to sharing the house with me. They have their routines, and I have mine and we work around each other.

There are a lot of very funny (and some rude) captions to pictures of cats on the Internet who are not happy that their people are at home all day.  As Gibbs said in his recent article (see here) cats don’t like change to their routine.  And we humans being at home all day long when they’re used to most of us going out of the house at a certain time, and returning at a certain time, is a cause for concern for them.

Exploding sofaUnlike dogs who need the companionship of either other dogs, or their human family, or they get bored and eat the sofa and other bits of furniture, cats sleep all day.  It’s not out of boredom.  It’s just what they do.  In sleeping, they conserve energy for when they do interact with you when you return from work or school.  If, like Casey and Gibbs, they have access to the outdoors, then their conserved energy will come in useful when they’re hunting.  Even domestic cats retain that inherent need to chase things.  That burst of energy running after a leaf, or a feathered or furry thing has been saved up while they’re sleeping.

Another thing that cats are finding increasingly difficult to deal with is that their humans want to cuddle them all the time.  Some cats love to be held and cuddled.  Other’s, as we know, are aloof (that’s Casey’s favourite word, by the way!) and if they are picked up, they’ll struggle to get down again.  It’s natural behaviour for us to want to kiss and cuddle those closest to us – and that includes our pets – but it isn’t natural behaviour for cats to want to be kissed and cuddled.

Sam, Ollie, Garfield, Billy, Timmy, RickyDogs would slobber all over you all day long if you let them.  They love the interaction with their human family.  It makes them happy. You’ve only got to look at the face of a cat to see that you won’t be getting a cuddle any time soon – in this century.  As I said earlier, some cats love to be picked up, held, cuddled, kissed - on their terms.  A few seconds, minutes, if you’re lucky, and they’re wanting to get down again.  I was very lucky with most of the previous Daily Mewsers.  Nearly all of them loved being cuddled – on their terms, though. Garfield was a very affectionate cat.  Not only would he kiss me, he’d kiss anyone that came to the house.  I remember a very funny time when the vicar of my church had popped round for a coffee and chat.  I came back into the lounge to find Garfield perched on John’s chest, licking his face! John was less than enamoured but Garfield was thorough in his kisses and wouldn’t stop until he’d worked his way all over John’s face!

And this time of being in close quarters with our pets, might change the dynamics of our relationship with them.  Cats might become used to our new daily routines and accept, grudgingly, that their food bowl attendant isn’t a bad sort after all.    

One last thing – humans often pick at food throughout the day – mostly out of boredom and being at home, there is a strong likelihood that trips to the fridge, larder, treats’ cupboard will increase.  Do not think your pets will need additional top ups of food or treats just because you do. Don’t let your bad habits impinge on your pets because an overweight cat or dog (or house rabbit or whatever) is NOT a happy pet.  Use this time at home to play with your pets.  If you do have a couch cat try gentle games where he has to interact with you: chasing a catnip mouse or use a fishing rod style toy so that he has to stretch up to catch it.

When all this is over – and trust me, it will pass – we don’t want to find ourselves several pounds heavier with obese pets.  Use the time at home to do things that you wouldn’t normally have the time to do.  Whether that’s cleaning out the cupboard under the stairs (that’s a scary place in my house!), or writing that novel you’ve been putting off for years, or building the relationship with your pets so that when you do go back to work or school, they won’t have a street party to celebrate your absence, they’ll be genuinely sorry to have the house back to themselves again.  Actually, I think they’ll probably have a catnip party and think: ‘thank goodness, they’ve gone. Now, where were we? Oh yes, forty winks, followed by a nap, then an afternoon sleep…’      

Take care and stay safe!

(The picture of the six cats on my bed is (clockwise) Sam, (black), Garfield, Billy, Timmy, Ollie and Ricky - all very affectionate!)



A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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