How to Make Working from Home with a Cat Fun
If you’re trying to get work done and your cat is trying to thwart you, it can be cute but also frustrating. Here are some reasons why kitty wants to be all up in your business while you work from home.
Curiosity: Whatcha Doin’?
The old adage is curiosity killed the cat, but for cat parents working from home, the cat’s curiosity kills your concentration. Cats genuinely are curious, and if you’re paying attention to something for that long, it must be interesting. Cats watch carefully when they are hunting and preparing to pounce, so your intense stare into the computer screen may cause kitty to think that you are tracking something. She’s here to help!
Some cats do track what happens on your computer screen and will try to attack the mouse pointer, the moving cursor, or the video on screen. Other cats are curious and need to look behind your laptop or monitor to see if they can find it on the flip side.
If you’re on a video call, your cat will be quite curious about the new voices in their territory, and look to you for reassurance that these new “visitors” are cool by you. Moving your fingers as you type may be too enticing for a playful cat, especially a kitten. They just have to pounce on them!
If your cat won’t let you work, here are some ways to help you get work done with a curious cat at home:
- Use headphones to minimize the new and interesting sounds. Kitty may still think you are talking to them when you speak up on your videoconference, so be prepared for a visitor at some point.
- Let your cat explore the computer screen briefly to “get it out of her system.” Making it fully off-limits may make it more enticing. Don’t let kitty “claim” your computer or monitor, though. It’s yours, and you make the rules. She’ll soon see that what’s happening is actually pretty boring to a cat.
Legitimately Needs Something
If your cat is persistent in his demands and won’t leave you alone, there may genuinely be something he needs. It’s time to check the following:
- Litter box. Did you do your duty, hooman, and clean the kitty toilet? Depending on which cat litter you use, the state of the box may get fouler faster. Kitty doesn’t like a stinky litter box, and she’ll let you know it needs attention. Give it a scoop and freshen with a layer of new litter on top.
- Food or water bowls. Is kitty out of food? Is the water bowl low or the water old? Cats like fresh water, so even if it’s not empty, it’s best to dump out the old water, wipe out the bowl to prevent any mold or residue, and fill it with clean, cool water every day.
- We missed a routine. If you’ve developed a daily routine with your cat, such as treats and wet food at 7 a.m. before you head to the office, kitty expects that to continue even if you’re working from home.
- Inside/outside. If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, she might want to head out to explore. She might also just be playing with you, though, and when you open the door she’ll look at you curiously as if you’re the strange one.
Your Cat Wants Attention or is Bored
Just like anyone you have a relationship with, your cat will want some of your time, attention, and affection. Your cat is actually quite glad to have you around more of the day when you’re working from home and sees this as an irrefutable equation that results in more attention for kitty.
The workday can be long for you and your cat, and the boredom or need for distraction is real. Be sure to pause and take time to play with your cat and give them scritches. Kitty’s attention span is short, so this doesn’t have to take long.
There are many signs that indicate if your cat is content. If you have a kitty that gets bored more easily, be sure to invest in a few cat toys to keep him occupied. If you’re working from home and don’t want to have to hold the other end of the string toy or toss the ball, look for toys that kitty can play with alone. If all else fails, put an open bag or box on the floor and your cat will immediately have to explore it. Then you can get a few moments for your next work sprint.
Looking for a Cat Nap Spot – Like Your Computer Keyboard, Perhaps?
Cats sleep an average of 15-20 hours per day, so napping is serious business. But who wants to nap in the same spot all 15 hours? No, kitty needs to break it up and has strategic locations for the best nap spots throughout the day.
But if you’re home? The best nap spot for many cats is on your lap, or at least nearby or leaning on you. Whatever you’re doing while you’re working from home can’t be as important as co-napping, thinks kitty. And she will persist with her biscuit-making and nuzzles until you see the error of your ways.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to just stop and take a short break. You’ve been working hard, and taking a break helps reset your brain and refuel your energy. Turns out kitty is on to something!
If you can’t take a break because you’re on a call or on a strict deadline, try moving your laptop to a place where your cat can cuddle up next to you and let you keep working.
If your cat wants to take a nap on your computer keyboard or laptop, sometimes it’s because she finds the warmth of the appliance pleasant. You can get a heating pad from the pharmacy and place it under a towel in kitty’s bed or nap corner to make a warm spot of her own. Doing this usually makes your laptop less appealing as an incubator for a cozy cat nap.
Reminding You to Take a Break
When you work at an office, it’s easier to remember to take frequent breaks to fuel your productivity. You have coworkers to chat with, a water cooler or common kitchen to find someone to share a cup with, or you get up to go to the toilet and stop to see a friend along the way. A colleague may pop by your office any moment for a quick catch-up, or you might have a routine where you take a stroll – with or without friends – at lunchtime.
When you work from home, all of those chances for breaks go out the window. It’s easy to just park yourself in your chair and work for hours without breaks. At some point, you’re staring at your computer or off into space and wondering where your productivity flew off to. Your brain is tired! You need a break.
Since your cat has two speeds with sprints of activity followed by cat naps, kitty legitimately does not understand why you are still sitting there! She’s right! You need to get up and move (and play with kitty), take a break (to pet kitty) and find a new spot (where kitty can cuddle up).
You don’t need your smart watch or fitness tracker reminding you to take a break if you work from home with your cat!
How to Tell if Your Cat Wants Attention
If you’re working from home with your cat, these bids for attention are probably familiar to you:
- Meows. A cat who wants something will vocalize with meows, chirrups, and even howls to make his needs known. Learn more about the sounds kitty makes and what they mean.
- Doing something he knows he should not. If your cat is tired of you working without paying attention to him, he may decide that scratching your favorite chair or knocking down your glass of water are good ideas. After all, they lead to you paying attention to him! When you tell your cat no and they boldly look at you with the “what are you going to do about it" expression, it’s probably time to take a short break and distract kitty from the no-no.
- Interfering with the Object of Your Concentration. Here’s one all cat parents who work from home are familiar with: your cat getting between you and your computer, book, notepad, craft, or whatever you’re working on. Sometimes kitty is so bold as to simply sprawl out on top of your desk, keyboard or papers. You can pick up your cat and put her off sometimes, but othertimes she simply will not be deterred. Time for a quick break, then!
- Showing up on your videoconference. Many cats want to see what is so important to you, so they need to view your computer screen. They may jump up behind you and appear over your shoulder, get on your lap and poke their heads up, walk in front of the screen, or get behind or above it to peer down. Some of this behavior is unavoidable, and it’s often funny and endearing. Just introduce your cat to your remote co-workers, and soon they’ll be wondering where kitty is the next time you’re on a call.
Best Strategies for Bored Cats Who Won’t Leave You Alone
If you’re a telecommuting cat parent, you and kitty are just going to have to agree to some rules of engagement. Your kitty co-worker won’t eat your lunch in the communal fridge, bore you with an endless play-by-play of last night’s game, or use up all the paper in the printer and bail for the day. He might stink up the common area or be a close-talker, though. No matter who you work with, figuring out ways to co-exist is necessary.
Luckily, your cat’s needs are pretty simple: food, water, a clean litter box, security, attention, and affection. When kitty is lacking in any one of those, she will make her needs known one way or another. When you work from home, you get to spend more time with the cat(s) you love, which means you get to know all of their quirks and can build a stronger bond.
Okay, if you’ve read to the bottom of this article while working from home with your cat, she’s probably nearby telling you to take a break or get back to work. You can thank your kitty for being a good coworker – or manager. Oh, the things your cat could tell about your work-from-home habits! Maybe it’s time for you to give kitty some treats!