Tag Archives: Cats

Our Cat’s Reaction to Working from Home

When we were first instructed to work at home due to Covid-19, for all of us, it meant some adjustments.

Initially, I commented on how interesting it will be to see how Ivy the Wonder Cat copes with her dad (and soon-to-be two dads) always being around. I honestly thought that she would get sick of us encroaching upon her routine, and would become increasingly distant.

The truth is that I underestimated how much attention she really craved.

When I first met Ivy at the pet store, where the local shelter offered cats for adoption, she was the calmest, coolest cat I could imagine.

I didn’t make the connection at first, but she liked having people around. I eventually figured out that because the clerks were in her line of sight from 8 am to 9 pm, in addition to all of the visitors passing by to say hello, this extroverted cat was likely in what was paradise for her.

As much as I was told that cats were pretty independent, little did I know that my pre-Covid work routine might not have been enough attention for her, even though the signs weren’t that obvious to me at first.

I assumed that she slept all day while I was at the office. The evidence showed that at some point she woke up and circulated, as her quota of food was consumed and the litter box was used.

I was under the impression that her world generally revolved around her little basket, with the comfy blanket, overlooking the backyard, supervising the birds, the squirrels and the folks walking their dogs, in between her naps.

On those rare days I might be at home for a sick day or a vacation day, this was generally the pattern she followed. I tried not to interrupt her sleepy routine.

But during the evenings and weekends, I found her to be a generally vocal cat. It hadn’t fully clicked for me as to why she did that.

Ironically, when the work-from-home order started and I was around the house so much more, I found her more calm and meowing much less, despite our imminent move to the country and the growing mountain of packing boxes in every room. Where I thought the disruption might be offensive to her sensitivities, Ivy was seemingly enjoying the cardboard play structures. It must have been like feline Disneyland in her eyes.

She would check in on me periodically throughout the day and she seemed rather pleased that her servant was available for the day shift.

After we moved and continued working from home, when the shock of the move faded, she was genuinely less bothered by our constant presence than I originally estimated.

However, there was still a little drama. There have been times when she was contentedly napping for 4 to 6 hours in the guest bedroom, in a separate corner of the house, but when she woke up she would wail powerfully, like the queen of the manor, “where are my humans and why is my food bowl empty?” Unfortunately, those words have echoed on a couple of conference calls, reaching from coast to coast.

As a result, I have learned to be pretty nimble with the mute button whenever Ivy starts bursting out in song or critiquing the state of the litter box that hasn’t been scooped in the last hour. But everyone is balancing different priorities these days.

Either way, I count my blessings, as Ivy is really a good cat and developed into a good communicator. When she is lacking something, she meows and often sits down in the general vicinity where action is needed. It’s pretty simple. I would rather have her meowing than having her destroy anything or having “accidents” to make a point.

But thankfully, more often than not, she quietly joins us in one of the two makeshift home offices, and resumes her nap time in our presence, on one of the many blankets and throws she has claimed in the name of Ivy. Maybe this is the convenience she was lacking when I wasn’t at home, which makes her feel more reassured overall.

Does she suffer from separation anxiety? My partner might say yes as Ivy does get loud when I am out for a socially distanced grocery run… or just on the other side of a closed bathroom door. Anything is possible with a rescue cat that was abandoned. Does she remember that far back? Who knows what motivates such strong reactions.

It makes me wonder how she survived emotionally when I was at the office all day and had the house to herself. Was she similarly needy, but I was never there to witness it?

During the pandemic, Ivy truly had no objections to us being home all the time. In fact, she loved it! And frankly, the feeling is mutual.

As a first time pet owner, what I find so heartwarming is how this little animal finds relaxation and comfort in my presence. For someone who has had his own share of anxiety, it seems a little backward to me, but I must be in a much calmer place myself if she actively seeks me out to feel balanced after all of the changes that we have been through. I am more than happy to oblige.

The best part is that with my retirement just a few months away, I look forward to having more free time to hang out together… as long as it doesn’t disrupt HER routine!

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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My Feline Security Detail

It never ceases to amaze me how a cat can pick up a strange habit, seemingly out-of-the-blue, and we end up having to adjust, whether it makes sense or not.

It could be as innocuous as a different inflection in our cat’s meows, or to find her somewhere she doesn’t usually hang out. Sometimes it’s a favourite toy that is suddenly no longer her favourite.

Sometimes it is a little more challenging to deal with it, like a sudden and complete dislike for a food that was a long-time favourite.

In recent months, Miss Ivy has picked up a strange habit as depicted by the picture. When she is doing it, I just turn around and see her backside, with her face looking in the opposite direction.

It’s not like she has done this once or twice. She started doing this a couple of months ago, and seems to be doing this all the time now to the point that it is a little creepy when I change rooms and she does the same thing.

The question is, why?

It doesn’t matter that she has a cat bed, two perches with a full panoramic view of the yard, and an unlimited supply of comfy throws on practically every horizontal surface in the house. She has suddenly taken to parking herself on the hardwood floor, two or three feet behind me, facing in the opposite direction.

In addition, there are two very willing laps she could sit on, which she does at least once or twice per day, but for the rest of the time, why the hardwood floor?

Is she acting like a sentinel? Is she my private feline security detail? Is she trying to be a guard cat? Continue reading

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Taking the Cat for a Walk

At Ivy the Wonder Cat’s veterinary check-up two years ago, the vet said that she was within an acceptable range for an adult indoor cat, but to ensure that she didn’t take on more weight. At that time, we put in place a few strategies to keep her on track.

Before our move to the country, when things were calm, normal and on a regular routine, her calorie count was pretty consistent without me needing to monitor her intake.  

However, there has been so much commotion over the last year between renovations, staging, selling, packing, boarding, relocating, living among boxes, unpacking and more renovations, it was challenging to keep to the structure and certainty that this cat needed to thrive.

Given that she was on the streets for nine months before she was brought to a shelter, it should come as no surprise if this cat eats for survival in times of disruption. So she gained a little.

When the stress of the move had passed and Ivy was feeling more like her usual self, our new vet recommended that we start looking at measures to bring her weight down.

The vet recommended that we moderate and measure her food intake in an effort to reduce her calories, and to switch her to a prescribed food that should make her feel more satiated. Sold!

The part that was a little tricky was the recommendation to play with her more, to give her more exercise. Engaging a six-year-old indoor cat in longer play sessions is easier said than done. I can’t tell you how many times we started playing a game together, only to find myself playing alone when I realized that she had already walked away after approximately 42 seconds.

Over the span of a few weeks, I pulled out every favourite toy that I knew she enjoyed, only to find that she was over it pretty quickly. So much for the exercise part of the program. Continue reading

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Giving the Cat a Bath

When we put up Ivy the Wonder Cat at her cat hotel during our recent move, I thought that Miss Ivy might enjoy a little extra attention and pampering during this challenging time. I signed her up for a “spa treatment” in the form of a feline version of a shampoo and blow dry.

When I picked up Ivy, the spa owner advised that Ivy responded well to the bath as she was purring contentedly when it was over. She noted that during the service, a lot of hair came off.

The last comment wasn’t a surprise. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I might brush Miss Ivy, I always seem able to collect enough hair to potentially knit together another kitten.

When I brought Ivy home, I couldn’t get over how fresh she smelled. To be clear, she was never a “smelly cat” like Phoebe Buffay sang about in the TV show “Friends”, but the light fragrance from the shampoo was delightful and stayed with her for more than a week.

What was odd was that after her arrival in our new home, whenever she seemed to be cozy and in a relaxed mood, I would try brushing her, as was always our routine. Maybe it was the stress of the move talking, but she got up and walked away. After five years, I have learned to take signs like that at face value. For some reason she wasn’t interested, so I let it go and tried again another time. However the reaction was the same.

I didn’t worry about it too much as she had been through a huge transition period and some significant changes to the routine and living arrangement.

But about four weeks later, as I woke up one morning, bleary eyed, getting her breakfast bowl ready, I found myself stepping in a puddle in the kitchen. Miss Ivy coughed up a hairball. Continue reading

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How My Cat Survived the Big Move

In the five years since Ivy the Wonder Cat’s adoption, most days I would think that Ivy is one of the coolest, calmest and most predictable cats on the planet, given her innate ability to stick to a schedule which includes 14 hours of sleep per day.

When I say stick to a schedule, I mean you can set your watch by her. God forbid if I should miss her 9:00 p.m. treat time or should slip by more than five minutes for her regularly scheduled feeding times. Let’s just say my extroverted cat is not terribly subtle and if I am ever late, her mild meow builds up to a full ambulance siren within a matter of minutes.

I often ask myself who is the trainer and who is the student?

With a cat whose routine is so deeply entrenched, we are fortunate that harmony is a two way street. She knows when it’s her humans’ bedtime and she doesn’t typically wail by the door. She seems to understand our work-from-home routine and keeps herself quietly entertained during business hours. And she doesn’t usually beg for food outside of her appointed meal times.

But with that strong sense of structure, a sensitivity to disruption may be part of the package deal. Every November and December, as the holiday decorations go up and our schedules stray from the normal routine, she does get a little discombobulated, but then again, don’t we all to some extent? Continue reading

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The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 5)

I knew that for the duration of the showings and open houses, it would be best for everyone to send Ivy the Wonder Cat to her cat hotel.

Not only would it avoid the need for me to withdraw from my work day and relocate Ivy each time someone wanted to see the house, but for a cat that is so structure-oriented you could set your clock my her nap, meal and treat times, avoiding the change and disruption altogether was likely the best idea.

Given her early signs of discombobulation and confusion from just having some furniture leave the house for the staging process, I contacted her hotel to see if they could take her sooner. I was relieved that they could.

I knew she would get the best of care and attention for the duration of her stay. I’ll never forget the time I went to pick her up after an extended holiday and she jumped out of my arms and ran back into her room. I was heartbroken, but also deeply reassured that Ivy liked it here.

Just the same, letting her go was a challenge. I didn’t foresee that this would be such a difficult part of the home buying and selling process. Continue reading

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Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Cat?

After almost five years of being a parent to Ivy the Wonder Cat, I’d like to think that we’ve reached a point where we understand each other pretty well.

We both like structure and we both lean toward strong adherence to a schedule, which is already half of the battle when it comes to understanding cats (and humans). In doing so, she has adjusted to my schedule and vice versa.

When Ivy meows about something, the timing and the location from where she meows is all the context I need to know whether it’s related to food, water, treats, litter box, sleep, play, attention or whether she is just making small talk.

While I make a point of regularly ensuring everything is neat, tidy, on time and according to her preferred specifications for all of checklist items above, there are times I may get caught up in the trappings of responsible adulthood and that I might miss one little detail… How foolish and selfish of me.

The rare time she might get up on the dining room table is her form of “escalation” to say that I didn’t respond properly and an identified issue remains outstanding. I don’t get mad at her when she does that. I just slowly walk over and softly ask “Should you be up there?” to which she immediately jumps off and provides another sign of what she wants.

It’s a pretty good system and seems to work… Most of the time.

Then there are those out-of-the-blue days when I have to ask “who are you and what have you done with my cat?” Continue reading

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When the Cat Has an Upset Stomach

From the time when Ivy the Wonder Cat joined me, I have to admit that my floors and I have been pretty lucky.

With only a few rare exceptions, it seems that she has a stomach made of steel, metaphorically speaking, of course.

And as much as friends and colleagues warned me about volcanic eruptions of hairballs and everything that comes with them, Ivy has been pretty good in that department as well.

Funny enough, it’s when she is nervous about something, whether it is change, disruption, car rides or temporary relocation that I can almost guarantee that she will need to barf… three days later.

Why three? I don’t know.

But it isn’t a problem, it’s not her fault. That’s her stress reliever.

If that’s her way of doing the Taylor Swift “Shake it off” to move on with her life, all I can do is to empathize and to clean it up. Having experienced anxiety issues leading to severe knots in the stomach and eventually throwing up, I completely understand. Like father, like daughter. Continue reading

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Reprogramming the Cat

At Ivy-the-Wonder-Cat’s last vet appointment, I was told the news that I suspected was coming: It was time to start watching her weight.

I always thought that when it came to her diet, she was pretty much self-guiding. I was reading product labels for calorie counts and I kept an eye on the amount of wet and dry food she ate. Between the days she ate more and the days she ate less, it seemed to average out to the target calorie range… or so I thought.

But it also averaged out to one extra pound every year that she had been with me. If I wanted Ivy to have a healthy, long life, we needed to curb that increase.

After going over our daily routine, the vet and I came up with some solutions. I was apprehensive that Ivy would put up a fuss, but the vet reassured me that cats like structure, and these measures were just going to reinforce what they crave anyway.

When I think about it, there have been times that I could set a clock to Ivy’s behaviour, like when she is heading upstairs between 9:58 p.m. and 10:02 p.m. because to her, it’s bedtime. I don’t even have to suggest it.

Even as I wrote the first draft of this blog at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, she walked by, yawned and crawled into her cat bed. She’s pretty punctual. Maybe these changes will work.

The first step was to have just one feeding station. Continue reading

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It’s Shedding Season Again!

After a challenging winter, when the calendar flips to March, we start looking for signs that spring is on its way.

I have found that a pretty reliable predictor is the sudden presence of cat hair… everywhere! Even though I’d like to think I keep a pretty tidy house, no amount of vacuuming seems to be able to keep up with the pace at which Ivy the Wonder Cat sheds her winter coat.

Last week, I was a little startled when I found a stray cat hair on my breakfast plate, peeking out from under my food, even though the kitchen was spotless. Another day, I was on the couch watching TV, when I suddenly started choking when I inhaled a stray cat hair that was floating around.

Even as I am writing this, I am noticing a cat hair on the lip of my coffee cup.

I conclude that cat hair must be following me around like a cloud. To maintain a more positive outlook, I prefer to think about it as an extension of my aura. Fortunately, it’s just a temporary, seasonal thing.

Just the same, I sprang into action and took the vacuum out. An hour later, after vacuuming in every corner and crevice in the house, the dirt cup was quite full even though I had just done it a few days prior.

What is really fascinating is that it is like it happens overnight. Throughout January and February, there is a modest amount of cat hair in the vacuum’s dirt cup every time I clean, which seems perfectly normal.

But as soon as March rolls around, BOOM! It’s like someone hit the cat’s “hair ejector” button. For the amount of hair I collect, I often wonder how Ivy isn’t bald because there’s just so much of it. Continue reading

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