Advice From the Trenches

Catless in Corona: Our pets all think we’ve lost our minds

Dear C and Dr. B;

Not sure if you have any advice on this, but I didn’t know who to ask. I work a job that keeps me away from home for at least 10 hours a day. Since the COVID-19 lockdown, I am working from home all day long, every day. The problem is my cat. She used to be happy to see me when I got home from work and would jump up on the couch and cuddle while I watched a movie. Now she hisses at me and won’t come near me. What gives? This shouldn’t be a big deal, but she is my only companion during this isolation and it is ripping my heart out.

Catless in Corona

Dr. B says: Our pets don’t know the world has changed. Cats especially are creatures of habit and routine and your constant presence is breaking her routine. There are two main issues here. First, your pets feel your emotions. You need to be calm – if you freak out, it will freak them out; I’d turn off the news. Secondly, you have invaded her territory. You need to leave your cat alone for three days and rather than trying to pet her or make her sit with you, just walk about as if she wasn’t there. This will introduce you to her space without invading it. After that, first approach her by getting down on the floor nearby and just lying there. This should cause her curiosity to override her territorial instinct. Wait until she comes to you, and only then scratch and pet her in the areas she likes. With this kind of gentle bonding, you should soon become best buds. Letting her come to you versus forcing yourself on her is the main point. Remember to remain calm and relaxed! Good luck.

C says: It’s not just cats, but people who are going to have a hard time adjusting to each other’s constant presence during the coronavirus shut down. Couples can get on each others nerves and if a family is accustomed to mostly brief exchanges while coming and going, they can all feel a little cramped and edgy when there is suddenly no escape.

I think that adjustment measures have to be taken by all of us. I would say that the first thing to remember is that we are ALL under the same restrictions – this sucks for everyone, not just you. The only way to make things better is for us to treat each other better. That means being considerate and putting the general peace and safety ahead of our own strict expectations. I myself have been making a point of being less critical of my housemate. For example – yesterday, when I found the marinade bowl he “washed out” in the drying rack, with half an inch of grease still covering the bottom, I did not yell, “Hey, asshole! Get back here and WASH this thing!” which is what I usually do. It was tough, but we all have to make sacrifices.

The question we should be asking now is, “How do I make things more tolerable in these weird and troubling times?” The Dalai Llama, as usual, may have the best idea: “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

• • COVID19 medical insurance updates: The Department of Health told patients that telephone visits are covered, but did not warn them that they may be getting a co-pay charge. Blue Cross is waiving co-pays for telephone visits, but others aren’t, so it is a good idea to check with your own company to avoid surprises. Policy seems to change overnight these days. Most doctors have barely any patients in the office and are putting out fires and dealing with current issues on the phone. 

Many doctors here aren’t even covering expenses in their offices nevermind getting a salary; most office employees are now part-time.  

Note to all Motif readers: New York has just begun to see a lot of people die. Let’s do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t happen in RI. As of 3/26, there were 132 cases of COVID-19 in our state. Today, 3/27, as I write this, there are 165 confirmed cases, with 2,250 people under orders to self-quarantine. All this is going the change by the time this article goes out. We are just getting started.