It is barely four in the morning and Mercedes is already playing with the blinds, conveniently located above my head. Clearly a ruse to gain my attention and yet still her very sleepy human will not respond. I left her with no other option but to commence phase two of the sleep disruption process. She begins knocking down every last item from my night stand, each one landing with a clunky thud a little louder than its predecessor. She wins. Cat – 1, Owner – 0. Half asleep, I drag myself from my bed and begrudgingly find my way into the kitchen to feed her breakfast. Grace and Lucille perk up and follow Mercedes’ lead.
Cat, dog, or other furry creature lovers – you may share similar experiences with your own cuddly companions. They may not be waking you before your alarm clock goes off (lucky you), but the bottom line is our fur babies want attention and sometimes even demand it. Pets were spoiled with a lot of quality time with their humans during the COVID-19 quarantine, so much so that even THEY grew tired of looking at us. As humans re-emerge into the world and return to some sense of normalcy, we once again leave our pets to their own devices. In order to keep our sweet pets feeling cozy, entertained, and hopefully prevent a favorite pair of shoes from becoming a new favorite chew toy, we can give our homes a little extra love and make our pets feel a little extra special. Here are a few tips:
Designate Spaces All Their Own: As our pets are members of the family, they too need their own safe haven to stretch out for a nap, play, or hide away when they need a break from their humans. Consider designating a space in the home (laundry room, a nook under a staircase, a corner of your living room, etc.) that is theirs and theirs alone. They will of course continue to take over all other spaces, but this will add a little extra comfort at home. In this designated space, keep beds, crates, or other surfaces that are cozy for your pets and easy to clean. For example, Lucille loves her tall kitty tower placed next to the guest room window so she can bathe in the afternoon sunlight, while Mercedes prefers to sleep in her doughnut-shaped bed in the living room. You may also consider keeping their toys in this same space so they can easily find them. Of course, do not be surprised to find these toys in strange places around your home. I am constantly stepping on tattered unicorns and even find the occasional sparkly mouse under my pillow.
Create Opportunities for Play: Dare to get creative! Spend time bonding and interacting with your pets with more playtime or find another furry companion so they can play together when you are absent. Keeping these loved ones engaged can mean creating elaborate bathing stations or dog houses/kitty condos or building teepees for them to crawl through. My cats love running through their collapsible tunnels, batting at the attached ball and string, or poking their heads through the various holes. Remember, playtime does not have to cost anything at all. Find empty boxes you are not using to create indoor jungle gyms. Outdoor pet owners - consider making an obstacle course using a plastic backyard slide, old tires, cast-off hula hoops, baby pools, or other items. Just be sure you check for sharp parts, splinters, or small pieces that could become choking hazards. Creating this playtime can be something the whole family gets involved in!
Plan In Place: COVID-19 taught us to expect the unexpected. Have a family member or close family friend as a backup person who can care for your pet in case of an emergency.
Give & Receive Love: Lastly, do not forget to embrace the quality time you have together. Cuddling up on the couch with a movie or a good book, while snuggling up to your sweet fur babies can help ease depression and anxiety for all parties involved.