Can the coronavirus pandemic have impact on the behaviour of your cat?

Can the coronavirus pandemic have impact on the behaviour of your cat?

The coronavirus pandemic and stressful situations resulting from changed lifestyles also affect our pets.

Cats do not like big changes, but they will probably like it if the owner stays at home more often. They will easily get used to it. In general, the owner at home usually means more play, caressing, feeding, and indulging. Being at home is enough to provide a nice entertainment in a daily routine of your cat. However, this is not always the case.

Some cats need more privacy and time for themselves; they are a bit of withdrawn and keen on peace and quiet. They may find it stressful if they constantly see the owner at home, are attacked by children, and are repeatedly encouraged to play. Since their individual distance is constantly exceeded, they may feel overwhelmed.

  1. Keep a close eye on your cat to see if it is looking for isolation, e.g. hiding in the corners of the apartment.
  2. Sometimes, it is enough to ensure that your cat has a hiding place where it can rest peacefully, e.g. a shelf hung at a height children cannot reach or a cardboard box.

Another difficult situation you may face is when you urgently need to bring your cat to stay with other family members or friends. This step is always stressful for your cat, causing anxiety and longing, even if it only stays for several days in a new place.

To make your cat bear the separation while staying in a new place, take its favourite items, such as bed, scratcher (regardless of size), bowls, and blankets. Do not forget about the litter tray. You can also take some items with the smell of the owner.

If you are a temporary new owner, observe what the cat needs at a given moment in the new place. If it is frightened, it hides. Ensure that it has a safe place where it can hide. Do not encourage it to leave if it does not want to. If it needs interaction, try to practice the same rituals as its regular owner.

In any case, you can use preparations containing equivalents of cat pheromones. The preparations available include: collars, sprays and electric vaporisers. Their full effect is usually visible after a few days of use, although the first effects can be felt much earlier in some cases.

Pheromones or their equivalents are detected by a vomeronasal organ found in dogs and cats between the nasal and oral cavities. Pheromone is a specific type of fragrance that triggers communication in members of the same species. It is used by animals to exchange a lot of complex information. Pheromones detected by the vomeronasal organ are transferred to the olfactory bulb and then to individual areas of the brain where the information is analysed and given emotional value. As these are the equivalents of calming pheromones, the pet has a sense of security and comfort.

Another option is to administer tryptophan and B vitamins preparations which have a calming effect.

Dr Agata Kokocińska-Kusiak

1 December 2020