The realities of working at home with cats! Hmm... Working for myself full time was different to the last three months, performing a finance role at home. This blog explains the funny moments and chaos that I experienced with my three cats.
The Realities of Working at Home with Cats
Since November, I’ve had a day job. In January, we had two days in the office before moving the office home.
I have loved working from home. There are so many benefits – seeing the kiddies more, 30 minutes extra sleep, own clothes, no packed lunches, bad hair. What I will miss is the constant company, whether it was going to the toilet or the kitchen I would have at least one shadow.
We have three cats; Fermi who is 7, from a rescue and extremely timid. Bean who is about 1, from a rescue, partially sighted and full of energy; Plus Daisy-Bear who is about 6 months and still is a runt. We are also down to one, very elderly African soft furred rat plus a Roborovski hamster.
I expected that the cats would need distracting at times so I had a pile of toys on my desk as well activity toys. Bean needs activities and fun but he prefers human interaction. With activity toys, he gets bored quite quickly. This means I tried to get up earlier so we could have a good play session and wear him out.
Cat Refereeing / Juggling
The biggest thing has been refereeing the cats. Fermi is very timid and she still doesn’t get on with Bean. The biggest thing is keeping them apart and trying to let them have limited, positive interaction. If one cat wants to move from one room, we have to check where the other one is before moving. Also, I don’t like to leave cats in a room without a litter tray for too long. They don’t like it either. We have four litter trays around the house but I really don’t want one in the living room.
Daisy-Bear gets on with both of the cats but needs to be watched. Bean can be too enthusiastic when he plays! Over the last month, friendship bonds have improved but still need work. It does feel like we are juggling cats at times.
Partially Sighted Cat
Bean being blind also means he has accidents. These result in him having massive falls – knocking things, making a lot of noise or me just feeling very sorry for him. I try not to move things around so he doesn’t run into anything – but I think he is a bit forgetful.
Working at home meant there were new things around. Poor Bean slipped when walking on plastic wallets and folders. I had to make sure that any piece of paper was fully on the desk, otherwise he stood on the unsupported bit and fell off.
The funniest ‘accident’ was when he jumped up onto the workbench. His body ended up in one of the in trays, and his head in another tray. He just stopped and didn’t know what to do. As I was sat next to him, I lifted him out.
He jumped up onto the spinning office chair and went flying, as he wasn’t expecting this to move.
Not only does Bean have accidents for himself, but also humans. He has knocked both myself and my husband over on the stairs. 5Kg of solid cat at top speed unexpectedly is quite a force.
Not all kitten behaviour is great or useful. My foot was randomly bitten – quite a surprise as they crept up on me. Another time, I was processing payslips and putting the checked ones on the floor where they were shuffled, ripped, bitten and claw marked. It looked as though Daisy-Bear was ice skating when they were all there.
Plus there was the usual knocking things off! Or patting my pen while I was trying to write. Bean loves patting anything that moves, or anything that doesn’t move in case it does! Bean knocks a lot of things off by accident as he can’t see before he leaps. Usually it is just his pride that gets damaged. Unfortunately Bean liked to get up onto Ben’s electronic workbench. I had to rescue him several times as he got stuck.
If Bean walked along the fireplace, he would knock off the broadband wifi box. Even though it was still plugged in, it didn’t get reception behind the fireplace. This meant everyone working from home was cut off from their work/Minecraft/world outside.
Cats always like to sit on new pieces of paper. Usually they chose to sit on the information I was trying to use. This is how to make finance fun!
I love the way that they found comfy places to sit – box of previous months payslips, paper boxes, in trays. So cute when I had a cat curled up in each box at the same time. Although this didn’t happen very often.
I did have a jar of treats in the room for distraction and rewarding good behaviour. I thought they won’t be able to sniff them out as it had a tight lid. However, Bean proved me wrong as one evening I heard a loud noise. He had found them on the window sill and was trying to push them off. In the end I had to keep them in a drawer they couldn’t open. Bean could still sniff them out!
Anytime I get up, the cats are interested in case I’m going for food. This means it is a race for Bean in particular. We have to keep the door to the kitchen as Bean will eat anything he can. Fermi’s food bowl is always his first stop.
I thought I’d bought a Bean proof bin as he couldn’t get the lid off. Instead he learnt to knock the bin over so he could get at the contents.
He is very fast, and even being partially sighted, he chicanes through our legs to dash in, see if Fermi has left any food before starting to see what else there is.
Even bringing the food shopping in, Bean comes straight away to look in the bags before we’ve got our shoes off. He has been known to run off with a loaf of bread on more than one occasion.
Cats aren’t usually thought of as loud animals. Being with them 24 hours a day has changed my perception. Obviously, some cats are more talkative than others. Bean, however, takes cat noise to new levels by thundering up and down the stairs, knocking things off, wrestling rugs etc. In fact, one day I heard the next door dad shouting for his kids to stop running, but I have a feeling it was Bean.
This was a turning point and I started getting up earlier (well I tried really hard to get up earlier). I did this to entertain Bean, take him outside for walks and play with him to wear him out for the day. I don’t think this worked but we had a nice time anyway.
At times both Bean and Daisy-Bear climbed up the back of the chair or me to sit on my shoulder. It wasn’t so bad when Daisy-Bear did it as she is small and light. Also her claws don’t go through my jumper as much.
When 5kg Bean did it, it was a different matter and was quite painful. Especially when he climbed the back of the chair and then was trying to get on top of my head. His claws are a lot bigger and more painful through my skin. It was worth it when he settled on my shoulder. (At least I had my hands free to type.)
I don't usually take selfies but I couldn't resist with Bean sat on my shoulder. This room is really dark so it was hard to get any decent photos of the cats in here.
Telephone calls are fun when you can hear the cats fighting or being sick. This is the same for video calls. In fact one time, I put a cat out to separate them. I only had 1 in the room which was the kitten. She decided to have a mad moment and was doing Parkour off the walls and furniture then patted the door.
Another ‘fun’ thing for the cats to do is to pull up the carpet. If I’m on the phone, nothing will distract them including throwing toys. They are on a one cat mission to dig to Australia through the carpet.
It is important to remember to turn off noisy toys before calls. Yes they keep the cat happy but the noise of the cat killing them as well as the noise from the toy is very distracting.
At one point I missed a call from my boss – as I was cleaning out the litter tray one of them had just used and it ponged.
Plus the cats howl loudly if they think it is food time. When is a cat not hungry?
Getting Called to Help
Most of the time, it has been the four of us at home. Recently the kiddies have gone back to school so it is the two of us. It does feel like a house full still as my daughter is back by 2.30pm.
Just because there were more people around, doesn’t mean that I’m not needed. The cats are often up to mischief. Bean has a thing for elastic hairbands. No matter how hard we try to keep them out of his reach, he still manages to get hold of them (sometimes by opening drawers).
During this lockdown I bought another new cat tree and had it behind me. It was so lovely to have a tree of cats especially if they were happy playing. Fermi loved it and it helped her get used to us a bit more. (It is really hard not to stroke her when walking past.)
Food and Drink
After a couple of weeks, I gave up drinking water from a cup and had to use a water bottle. All cats would have a drink out of my cup given the chance. It was very cute but not what I wanted! Fortunately my coffee was safe. as all three hate the smell and don't go near it. It was really annoying when they drank my water as I didn’t want to have the chaos of trying to get to the kitchen without Bean eating the bin contents again.
My food wasn’t safe either – snacks or lunch. Any bread type products were coveted by Bean. Even my salad at lunch was chased by the kitten. In the end I cut her a piece of cucumber so it would keep her busy. This made Fermi interested and she came over too. She didn’t want her own cucumber and thought Daisy-Bear must have something yummier.
I was recently tidying up and a bag of guinea pig pellet food spilt. Bean surprised me by eating it while I was trying to clear it up. What a strange cat.
Cats and Computers
The cats walking across keyboard is a nuisance; they did lots of random typing and deleting. It wasn’t always easy to find out what they had done.
Daisy-Bear managed to delete an important short cut that meant I couldn’t access the remote desktop. Argh! I had to ring the IT company and of course, they don’t start as early as we do. Fortunately, when I got through they were able to fix it quickly.
Daisy-Bear was really interested by anything that moved including the cursor. I had a good giggle when she patted my screen chasing it. Fortunately she was only a small cat so didn’t do much damage sitting on the desk. Bean was more like a bull in a china shop.
Its not just computers that are a source of fun, but printers too. Bean often ran into the room when he heard the printer whirling into action. Then he would pat the paper when it came out.
The first time I had the video camera on for a meeting with my boss, Bean came up and patted it. I think he was enticed by the red light. It was so cute to see his close up of his paw. However, my manager isn’t keen on cats and she didn’t appreciate it. My most common phrase was, I’ll just put the cat out. Usually they are happy playing or asleep and they are keen to see people too. Something new was good for everyone.
A few times at the beginning, both of the smaller cats would settle on me to sleep and have a cuddle. As all cat owners know, if the cat is on you, you can’t move. This meant I couldn’t get my printing. If it was after 2.15 I could send my daughter a message and she would come down to get it for me. She would often ask for a yummy snack at the same time.
The cats have been able to us going back to normal gradually, with the kiddies going back to school a couple of weeks ago. I think they have missed my daughter in particular, as she played with them and they often settle in her room while she was working. (Yes she had the same problems with the cats typing in her online lessons.)
Other Strange Happenings
Fermi is quiet and timid but she managed to surprise me. She had a bit of a cat nip party. I had bought a cat item on Ebay and they sent a free gift of a mouse and a sample bag of catnip. I’d opened it at the desk and forgotten all about it. Later that evening I went back into the room to find Fermi was rolling on the floor with something in her paws. When I looked closer, it was the cat nip sample bag. Very soggy with a corner bitten off and most of the contents missing.
When we get deliveries,the cats get frightened and run away from the door. It will be strange to have people round as we’ve not had anyone in the house. Ben’s Uncle came to fix our boiler and on the second time, Bean was interested in what he was doing. The first time he ran away from him and then kept running past the bathroom. It’s not just dogs that get anxious with new people and situations.
Going back to an Office
I’m going to miss my furry friends after being my companions for 24 hours a day for three months. My husband is not looking forward to me going back to the office as he will have to retrain the cats not to jump up on his workbench. Also, he will have to do more litter trays. The cats will missed being pampered all day too!
It will take a while for humans and pets to get used to the complete change. If you need help and tips about helping your pets to adjust, check out my previous blog here.