Thursday, March 23, 2017

Office cat intrusions: How to handle your kitty when you're busy

Popoki the cat in her chair

Last week, the internet exploded with glee in response to a man's interview conducted from his home office. No cats were in the video (which made me a little surprised that it was so popular; we all know cats rule the internets), but I'm sure cat parents who work from home can relate to what happened.

In case you haven't seen this video, go here and watch it now. I dare you not to laugh. Here he is, trying to give a talk about something very serious, and both of his kids decide that it's the perfect moment to pop into the office for a visit.

I laugh--but it's a knowing laugh.

Popoki is my office cat, and oftentimes, she does things that others might find a little intrusive. For example, at the end of a very long day in the office when she thinks I should stop typing and start putting food in her bowl, she will start to make very overt and direct suggestions, like this.

Popoki the cat resting her head on my keyboard

And, she sometimes decides that I need to take care of something at the exact moment I'm on the phone with a colleague or a client. She has yet to walk across my desk during a video conference, but I'm sure she's thought about it.

Banning my cat from my office isn't the right step for me. Popoki works as a stress reliever and a companion, and I know having her around makes me a better worker. I am able to let things go and really focus on work (and not emotion) because she is here.

But since I do work remotely and have to spend quite a bit of time on the phone or video chats, I have to take steps to ensure that she won't be a distraction. Here are the four things I always do to help ensure she stays in the background.

  1. Introduce new toys at the end of the day, when I'm no longer taking calls. Most cat toys make some kind of sound, and those sounds can be very distracting to callers. By giving her new toys at night, that allows her to play like crazy when sounds don't matter.
  2. Give her a treat right before calls begin. A hungry cat is a persistent cat. If I can make sure she has something tasty in her tummy before I must do something important, she'll be less likely to pester me. 
  3. Place very comfortable beds around the office. Popoki has her pick of sleeping spots in the office, including sleeping spots in a loft that is far from the desk. If those beds are enticing enough, she'll stay there (and not in the way of the camera) when I need her to. 
  4. Make time for play before the workday begins. Popping into the office 15 or 20 minutes before I log on for work gives me time to use wand toys and other interactive play options with Popoki. That wears her out, so she is more likely to sleep during the day. 
Popoki is a cat, and she can be unpredictable as a result. She even tried drinking a little tea last week, for example, which I never thought she'd do.

Popoki the cat with tea

But by planning ahead and trying to make her environment as friendly as possible, I can ensure that embarrassments don't happen in my office. I think that's a good thing.

Do your cats come into your office? What do you do to make it work? Leave me a note and let me know!