The coronavirus pandemic has impacted and changed our everyday lives. In many countries citizens have been required to stay at home during a period of lockdown.
FELIWAY conducted an international survey during April and May 2020 to understand the effects of lockdown on our cats' wellbeing.
CATS DURING LOCKDOWN SURVEY
In A Few Words‚
This survey looked at the impact of lockdown on our pet cats and revealed that 20% of owners felt that this period has been stressful for their cat(s), mostly due to the inevitable changes in household routines. One third of owners noticed several changes in their cats' behaviour, such as being more affectionate, more attention seeking, or crying more. 27% of owners have used FELIWAY during containment, and FELIWAY helped their cat(s) in 70% of households.
Among the owners who felt there had been a change in the relationship with their cat(s) during lockdown, 93% found the relationship to be better. 82% of owners have spent more time with their cats during containment.
35% of owners believe that the end of lockdown will be a stressful time for their cat(s) and 42% of them plan to support their cat during this time by using FELIWAY while 26% plan to play more with their cat(s).
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted and changed our everyday lives. In many countries citizens have been required to stay at home during a period of lockdown. FELIWAY conducted an international survey during April and May to understand the effects lockdown has had on our cats' wellbeing. There was a great response with over 3,400 owners living in 6 countries (US, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands) taking part, giving a great insight into how lockdown has been affecting pet cats.
Changes during lockdown
The majority of cat owners (63%) considered lockdown has not been stressful for their cats, however 20% of owners thought their cats had found this time to be stressful.
For those owners, the resultant change in routine as a result of lockdown whether it was for themselves (74%) or their cats (51%) caused the stress. Cat owners also felt that the stress they were feeling was being picked up by their cat and that the presence of people in the home all of the time was another important source of stress.
33% of owners noticed a change in their cat during lockdown, reflecting both positive changes and those negatively associated with stress - 19% owners said their cat was more anxious compared to 14% who felt their cat was more relaxed during this time.
Perhaps understandably, the most reported changes were linked to cats spending time with their owner, with 52% owners saying that their cat was closer to the family during this time and 41% felt their cat was more affectionate towards them. Owners also noticed an increase in attention seeking which may be linked to the cats that were noticed to meow more. 15% of owners felt their cat was eating more (perhaps cats have done better than humans on this!). There were also many cats that were showing known signs associated with stress such as peeing outside the littertray, hiding, scratching furniture and grooming more.
Support during lockdown
As lockdown commenced (which seems a very long time ago now!) we were all uncertain and had many questions about how we would cope. It is no surprise that many owners anticipated that this time would be stressful for their cats and prepared to support their furry friend. The comforting messages provided by FELIWAY have been used in the home by 918 (27%) cat owners, with the majority of these owners using FELIWAY for a month or more.
71% felt that FELIWAY has been helping their cat during this time (surely this is similar to the percentage of humans that have found chocolate comforting during containment?).
The majority of owners (81%) have been playing with their cat to help their cat with the changes, with 44% of owners buying new toys for their cat during lockdown. Cats use hiding as a way of coping with stressful situations and owners have been sensitive to this and 27% have provided extra places for their cat to hide. 23% of owners have allowed their cat more access to the outside, which may have helped cats that are able to use this space to cope with the extra presence of people in the home.
46% of owners felt that their relationship with their cat(s) has changed during lockdown, with the vast majority of those saying it has improved (93%).
This is very likely due to one of the 'benefits' of lockdown, the opportunity to spend more time with our pets; 82% of cat owners said they have been able to spend more time with their cat(s).
Preparation for the end of lockdown
Many countries are slowly easing the lockdown measures and it is interesting to see how cat owners are anticipating this next phase:
35% believe that the easing of lockdown will be stressful for their cat
41% feel this will not be stressful
while 24% are not sure
Cats like to have their own space and routine, so easing of lockdown may seem to be a move back to a situation cats may prefer, but it is still a change. Our furry friends have potentially just got used to the changes as a result of lockdown with people being at home more and now changes are happening again. Change can be difficult for cats to cope with and supporting them as changes happen will help to prevent the development of stress-related signs.
Cat owners that are preparing for the end of lockdown are considering different measures to support their cat which includes continuing (or commencing) the use of FELIWAY (42%), playing more with their cat(s) 26% or trying to make time to be at home more (15%).
Some owners also expressed that they are considering obtaining a new cat to keep their cat(s) company when they return to their workplace. This should be carefully considered as some cats may not want to share their home with another cat, which can result in an increase in stress rather than providing some comfort.
This large survey found that lockdown across countries has been accompanied with significant changes in daily routines for cat owners and their cats, leading to more time spent together. Lockdown naturally provided many owners with more time to spend with their cat and nearly half of the respondents thought the relationship with their cat had changed with nearly all of these owners reporting the relationship to be better.
Many cats have adapted to the changes in a variety of ways, including seeking more attention and interaction with their owners, hiding or spending time outside or showing potential stress-related signs such as peeing outside of the litter tray, scratching furniture or extra grooming. There are going to be further changes that come with the easing of lockdown and supporting our furry friends during this time will be important too. There are different ways to help cats cope which vary depending on each individual cat's nature, such as keeping their routine as predictable as possible, making time to spend together (e.g. playtime), providing entertainment (e.g. toys and puzzle feeders) as well as creating a relaxing environment in the home with safe places to hide and the comforting messages provided by FELIWAY.