The Corona Virus (COVID-19) has shown the value of working remotely, but there has been a trend towards home office and flexible working arrangements for a while now. Being able to work from home can be priceless. Many freelancers and self-employed workers, as well as teachers, do a lot of their work in the place they live. It is not uncommon to share this space, often with a feline companion. This article serves as a guide for successful co-working with your cat!
Working from home with your cat
© nenetus / stock.adobe.com
Should your cat be allowed on the desk?
The answer to this question might surprise you a little, but in almost all cases, cat owners prefer the company of their pet when working from home. This is because they have a calming presence and can take away some of the stress encountered in the working day. A little less space on your desk and the occasional hair on your keyboard are a small price to pay. However, if you are certain that you don’t want your cat on the desk while you work, you must enforce this from the very start, making no exceptions. A good option is to set up a cosy spot for your cat nearby, and counter any advances on the desk by gently but firmly placing your cat back on the floor.
Where should your cat sleep on the desk?
While you work, your cat snoozes. A blissful domestic scene, both relaxing and inspiring. This is best achieved when your cat has a dedicated sleeping spot. Most cats have a favourite place to rest, usually in their owner’s lap or on their shoulder. As flattering and enjoyable as this bond can be, even the most loving owner must admit that after a while this can become rather impractical. This is why giving your cat its own bed on the desk is a good idea. If you have a large desk at home, you can simply put a snuggly bed on top to keep your cat close by without interrupting your workflow. You can move freely and give your cat head scratches every now and then. The occasional paw on your keyboard is just an “occupational hazard”.
Creative breaks with your cat
After a long stint filling out charts or a particularly challenging phone call, you often need a quick break. Your cat is the perfect co-worker for a spot of relaxation. Grab its favourite toy or a scrunched-up piece of paper and take your mind off work by watching your cat enjoy one of life’s simple pleasures. This will further strengthen your bond with your pet, keep your cat fit, and allow you to return to your work feeling refreshed and recharged.
Playtime in the home office
An important thing to keep in mind when it comes to playtime is that you must be the one who initiates it. Cats are naturally playful, but if you make it clear that you’re in charge of when the toy comes out, your cat won’t develop the habit of nagging you to play. This is very useful when you are working under time pressure and need to focus on the task at hand. If you have an indoor cat, however, you should make sure to give it regular playtime and cuddle sessions.
If you only have one cat, it will quickly get bored on its own indoors. Keeping two cats is a blessing in this scenario, as it allows them to play with each other and reduces the pressure on you. This leaves you free to keep working as you need. If you have a secure outside space, you can politely let them out when you need to get your head down and complete a task quickly.
How to keep your cat busy
If you really need to concentrate on your work, you need peace and quiet. But what if your cat wants to play and won’t leave you alone? Our advice is to keep a few interactive toys nearby that can keep your cat entertained without your input. Here’s a few ideas:
- Snuffle mat full of dry food or treats
- Wrapping treats in newspaper and putting them in a box
- Catnip or valerian cushions
- Various intelligence games for cats
- Toys that can be filled with treats
- Activity boards that challenge your cat to get to the treats
As with all things, variety is the spice of life. Switch your choice of toy out every few days to make things interesting and keep your cat engaged. When the activity board comes back around, your cat will investigate with newfound curiosity!
How to prevent chaos at your desk
Especially kittens and young cats are naturally inquisitive; they are discovering the world around them and everything is new and exciting. Try to see the innocent and funny side of their behaviour when they try to gnaw on your pen, tap the screen with their paws, or get comfortable on your mousepad. We highly recommend keeping important documents out of your cat’s reach, as they might bite or scratch at these pages. In the worst-case scenario, your cat might be sick on them and render them totally useless.
Around young or slightly clumsy cats, it’s a good idea to keep your tea or coffee in a safe space that is hard to reach for your cat and far away from the edges of the table. Like to snack while you work? Bear in mind that your cat might show an interest in your food. If you’re partial to a piece of chocolate at your desk, pay very close attention to make sure your cat doesn’t get near it as it is poisonous to your pet.
How to protect your data
Younger animals are very keen to explore their surroundings. When working from home, this unfortunately includes your keyboard. To prevent any mishaps, make sure to save your work regularly, even when popping out of the room quickly. Alterations made by your cat may not be immediately obvious, so double check that your document is still showing the ‘saved’ status when coming back from a break outside your home office.
Cat-proofing your workspace
Another thing to keep in mind if your cats are still young is to keep your desk free of small items that they might accidentally swallow. This means paperclips, rubbers, ink cartridges, and any other loose bits of stationery should be stored in your draws. To avoid your cat chewing through any cables, try to gather your power cords in a bundle and tuck them away safely. With time both you and your cat will become accustomed to your new working routine, but until then make sure to never leave your pet in your workspace unattended.
We wish you a productive and enjoyable experience while working from home with your beloved cat!