Working from home might come without the nightmare of the daily commute, but it’s not without a few little problems all of its own. If you happen to share your home with a purring ball of fur, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Trying to compose an email without your cat deciding its better at typing than you are can be a chore, to say nothing of the joy of getting through a conference call without them giving the key speaker a run for their money. Fortunately, there’s plenty of things you can do to lessen the aggro – even if you do have to get a little creative in how you do it.
If your cat’s constant attention-seeking is starting to get in the way of your work, it’s time to do as Bustle suggests and set some boundaries. While cats can plead contrary as much as they like, they do eventually learn to stop certain behaviors if you’re consistent with training. Every time you spot them chewing on a computer cable, plonking themselves onto your keyboard, or generally being destructive on or around your work-station, remove them gently and with a firm “no”. It may take a little time, but eventually, they’ll get the message.
Keep Them Occupied
Cats might sleep away 18 hours or so of the day, but when they’re up, they’re up. If their walking hours coincide with your working ones, finding some way of keeping them entertained without your involvement is going to be key to both your sanity and your productivity. Fortunately, there’s a score of interactive toys out there that that promise to keep your cat’s brain ticking over nicely while yours does the same (if you’re in need of some inspiration, E! has some great ideas to get you started). If you’d rather find a cheaper solution, get inventive with whatever you have lying around the house. Boxes make a great game, and one your cat’s almost certain to love. Create a cardboard maze with plenty of tunnels and sleeping cubbies, pop a gingerbread trail of treats around it, and pretty soon your cat will be having all sorts of fun, leaving you free to get on with your work in peace.
Maintain Your Schedule
As creatures of habit, cats can get easily anxious if there’s a sudden change to their usual routine. If you don’t usually work from home, your sudden 24/7 presence might throw them slightly. To give them a sense of normalcy, keep to their usual pattern as much as possible. If you usually feed them as soon as you get up, keep doing it, even if it does mean missing out on the luxury of a lie-in. Similarly, if you tend to play with them either before leaving for the office or after returning from it, make sure to keep it up.
Wear Them Out
If you find you can’t get through 20 minutes of work without your cat clawing at your arms, winding their way through your legs, or otherwise doing anything in their power to distract you, then it’s time to get proactive. Before you start work, take 10 -15 minutes or so to give them a thorough working out, whether that’s with a game of fetch, a laser pen, or a feather dangler. By the time you start working, they should have burnt up enough of that excess energy to leave you in peace… even if only till lunchtime.
Give Them Goggle Eyes
You know how TV makes the best babysitter for kids? As it turns out, the same’s true for cats. If you’ve got a spare laptop, stick on a video specially for cats (YouTube is full of them), plonk your cat in front of it, and voila, hours of entertainment on tap for them, and plenty of opportunities for you to get down to some uninterrupted business. Just be conscious that the videos tend to be of birds, mice, squirrels and the like. If your puss struggles to tell the difference between virtual reality and actual reality, you might want to keep an eye out for any signs of them trying to “liberate” one of the animals through the laptop screen.
Keep Important Papers Out of Reach
If you’ve got a pile of important documents that absolutely, under no circumstances, 100 percent cannot be messed with, then you can bet your bottom dollar that’s exactly what your little furball will do the first chance they get. Be sensible with any paperwork, documents, and anything else you have lying around; if It’s important, file it away in a drawer.
Give Them Some Space
The Ann Arbour News has several excellent suggestions on how to work productively in a house full of pets. If you’re struggling to figure out how to set up your new home office, it might be worth trying their idea of dedicating a little space in a corner of the work area specifically to your cat. It might sound a simple thing to do, but setting up a bed and a few toys close enough to you that they can keep an eye on what’s happening, but far enough away from your laptop and papers to avoid any mishaps, will not only keep them happy and relaxed, it’ll also go a long way in establishing some much-needed boundaries.
Create a Safe Place
Say no to most cats often enough, and eventually, they’ll get the message. Some cats, on the other hand, never will, regardless of how blue in the face you go trying. If you’ve tried and failed to work in the same room as your cat, then there’s only one option. Create a safe place (for yourself, not them) in a room well away from where they like to spend their time, and stay there (drink and bathroom breaks excepted).