If, like me, you are a proud WAHM – work at home mum and the proud owner of a needy cat, or three, you will likely be familiar with how challenging it can be to maintain your productivity whilst working from home with cats.
Let’s be honest, our pets have become integral to our home life. They keep us company, entertain us and give us those all-important extra cuddles we need. But working from home with a cat is not always easy. Sometimes they’re cute and asleep on our feet and other times they’re batting our pen across the desk, sitting on our keyboard and sending our boss an email with “sijfaej” as the subject (after taking a swipe at our coffee!).
Never fear, help is here. Being a work at home cat mum myself, I’ve put together some useful tips to help you maintain your productivity whilst keeping your cat safe and happy. But first, let’s look at why cats like to pester us so much when we’re really busy?
WHY do cats spend so much time distracting you when you’re working from home?
Cats are curious
If being a working from home mum is a new thing for you, it may also take them a little while to get used to you being in their home during their hours. They’ll want to be with you and try and work out why you’re still at home. But it’s not just you, they are naturally curious creatures. Desks, chairs, screens and keyboards are all new things to explore for a work from home cat. A lot of your devices are warm and being the heat seeking missiles that they are, make a much more comfortable resting place than their kitty bed.
Are they bored?
Bored cats can be a little more mischievous than entertained ones. They may come to bother you because there’s nothing else to do or because they know that if they stick their paw in your water glass they’re going to get some sort of reaction from you. You can set up an indoor cat playground to make sure your cat has plenty of toys to play with and ways to keep themselves engaged.
Do they actually need something?
They may not just be bothering you! They may be trying to tell you something. Is their litter tray clean? Is it feeding time? Have they got enough water? Do they need to go outside?
10 Tips to minimise cat distraction and maintain your productivity
Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your pet is safe and happy and that you’re still meeting those deadlines, whilst working at home with cats. Paws crossed they help you to work with ease and keep your needy cat happy.
Tip 1: Create a cat friendly home office
Curiosity may well kill the cat! There are a few things to think about when setting up a safe environment for your cat. Any new plants and equipment you bring into your home will need a good sniff from them first. You will need to make sure you create a cat friendly home office to avoid accidents or mishaps.
Tip 2: Hide Cables
Make sure cords aren’t dangling and that they’re out of reach as much as possible.
Got a cable chewer on your hands?
Not only can electrical cables be seriously damaged by pets gnawing on them, it’s also incredibly dangerous, with the risk of your cat getting electrocuted or receiving nasty burns in their mouths. Here are some options to consider:
Cat Cord Protectors
Look at buying pet friendly cat cord protectors that you can cut to the desired length and are the right thickness for your cables. Pet friendly cable covers are usually odourless and specifically designed for deterring pets from chewing. Standard plastic sleeves can become brittle and crack, which would be another safety concern for your kitty.
Where possible, you can consider having wireless connection and therefore less cables on offer to tempt your cat. Wireless keyboards, computer mice and phones are all common place these days. Wireless desk lamps are also available.
Tip 3: Use headphones
Cats can be pretty sensitive to sound. Investing in some headphones is a practical solution where you won’t shock them when your Skype goes off and they won’t want to know who’s messaged you every time you get a ping from slack!
Why do cats sit on keyboards?
Sometimes, you can give your needy cat all the perches, hammocks and beds in the world (and even put them within stroking distance) and they’d just rather sleep on your keyboard. But why? Cats aren’t silly and they know that sitting on your keyboard stops you from writing, which stops you from working which might start you stroking. Physically stopping you is a great way of getting your attention!
Laptop keyboards (even the new ones with fans that claim they don’t) get a bit warmer over time. And we all know cats love to bake in a warm area – think next to the radiator, in front of the fire or the hottest, sunniest part of the room. Warming themselves whilst you (try to) work is a nice way for them to pass the time.
Tip 4: But really, I need to work. How do I make a cat proof keyboard?
Getting yourself a cat proof keyboard cover is a great way to cat proof your keyboard. It can be a perspex ‘table’ which you put over your keyboard so you can still type and your cat can still sit ‘on’ your keyboard. Although this is a good solution, you’ll still have to crane your neck around your cat’s head to see your screen and touch typing will definitely come in handy.
Another idea is to make your own cat computer. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an engineer – this can simply be done with a folded piece of cardboard and a printed out home screen and keyboard. Really. Your cat might go for it!
And when all else fails, learn to block your keyboard quickly. Don’t let your cat press send on a draft email to your whole company!
Tip 5: Are your houseplants safe for cats?
We know that having greenery in your home office brings a range of benefits. However, you need to be aware that some houseplants are poisonous to cats and it pays to know which are cat safe house plants. Some cat safe houseplants include:
- Ponytail Palms
- Boston Fern
- Spider Plant
- Air Plants
Okay, so you’ve created a cat friendly home office, here are some tips to minimising cat distraction, whilst working at home with cats!
Tip 6: Establish a regular routine
Routines can be helpful for you and your cat. Cats appreciate having a schedule. They like to be fed at the same time and know that playtime is coming. Cats, like most children, find routines comforting, because they can predict what is to occur on any given day. This is particularly important for a needy cat or cats who display any signs of anxiety. Of course, an exact routine isn’t always possible when juggling meetings, kids coming back from school and important work commitments, but trying can help to keep them satisfied and deter unwanted behaviour.
Tip 7: Schedule Playtime
If you know you have one or more meetings scheduled for the day ahead or want a solid chunk of time to focus on a task, it is a wise move to block out a quality play session with your fluffy friend right beforehand. Not only is this great for your cat but it’s great for you to take regular breaks away from your home desk.
This ‘fills your cats cup’ so they are more likely to wander off and do their own thing when you need to put your blinkers on and get to work. A needy cat will be satisfied that they had some of your time and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go back to time.
Whist you are having a cuddle with your cat, you could also consider adding in some foot and lower leg exercises to improve circulation. This way you’re easing any desk worker tension – plus stroking and cuddling your cat is also a great stress reliever! Who knows, your cat might like to join in…
Tip 8: Create an indoor cat playground
Giving your cat their own entertainment area or indoor cat playground can really help to keep them busy and engaged. This could be a cat tree, puzzle toys, a sunny windowsill where they can see the birds outside. Or to give your indoor cat a taste of the outside you may like to provide an outdoor cat enclosure also known as a Catio (cat patio). Providing them with entertainment and exercise can help to keep their minds and bodies healthy and active and prevent them from bugging you whilst working.
Tip 9: Maintain Regular Feeding times
Cats, just like us, need routines around their feeding time. Stick to these times. It can be very tempting to bribe them with food, especially when working from home and when it appears to be the only think that works. But don’t overfeed your cat or lure them away from your keyboard with treats. As well as being bad for their health, it may have the opposite effect that you desire and actually encourage them to use your computer as a pillow.
Tip 10: Create an enticing cat sleeping area
Cats actually like to sleep a large majority of the day, which is a great way to keep them happy and make sure you concentrate on your work. If you find them roaming around your desk, they may be telling you that they’re not happy with their other cat sleeping area. Make sure they have access to the rooms they like to sleep in and that their bed is clean and comfy.
May the feline force be with you
We hope these hacks show you how to survive working with cats. Whether you hand craft a computer for your needy cat or choose to establish a more regular routine to ensure your kitties needs are tended to, we trust some of these ideas bring more focus for you in your working day. If you’ve got any winning tips for working from home with cats, we’d love to hear about it.
Ella Smiles is a work from home mother and one crazy cat lady! She runs the review site https://myindoorcat.com sharing her experience and passion on keeping house cats healthy and happy whilst working from home. When not attending her cats every needs, Ella and her daughter can be found playing with another kind of cat, a Hobbie Cat, off the shores of Australia.