Why your pet is acting like a weirdo during quarantine
April 24, 2020 7:44 AM   Subscribe

The psychology behind your dog or cat’s new eating habits, constant whining, or extra-loud purring.

This is a pet thread, and links to pictures of your puppers and murderkitties are strongly suggested.
posted by Etrigan (24 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
My female cat has definitely been clingier than usual, but they're mostly just hanging about doing their thing.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2020

Kona is happy to have his dad around more, and was well-prepared for supply-chain issues, but he's starting to get a little bored.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

This would explain why Simon has been weird about not eating his meals in the day then being really beggy for evening biscuits even though his day feeding bowl is still full.

You know, typing that, its somehow the first its struck me that having two feeding bowls, in different locations, might be unusual.
posted by biffa at 8:22 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

My normally chill cat has become much more prone to wandering the house, yowling disconsolately, even though he wants for nothing (food, clean litter, attention). At the same time, neither cat can leave me alone; they have a whole empty house to be in besides my office, but they have to be in whatever room I am in. You'd think they'd prefer to be away from me some of the time.
posted by emjaybee at 8:31 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Zelda was a pup when my husband worked from home, so she is totally comfortable with current circumstances. She's unflappable.

Desmond isn't the smartest little guy in the world, and he's doing fine.

Charley came to us just in December and had some separation anxiety from the very start, so I'm pretty worried about what's going to happen with her.
posted by meese at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2020

Our cat hates being left alone, so he is super chill and happy since this all began.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:22 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Well, from the animal's point of view, it may be the human that has started acting like a weirdo. (Mine is my profile pic at the moment.)
posted by carter at 9:22 AM on April 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

My dog has started going into the bathroom and eating toilet paper off the roll, which is like the worst possible new habit she could have picked up.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:33 AM on April 24, 2020 [28 favorites]

Of the cats, Peter thrives on chaos, so he's been visibly delighted by the changes in routines and has been spending much more time bouncing around like he's full of beans. Ishka likes people being present to pet her, so she's been following me around off and on and hanging out with me as I write. (She's been noticeably crankier lately, but I think that's a sore tooth--we have her scheduled for a dental in two weeks now.) Arthur, who is a needy little sucker at the best of times, has been demanding that I be present in the room with him at all times, and ideally that I should be touching him.

Our dog Tribble, by contrast, is bored silly and hates everything about this new normal. We're always here, but we never do anything interesting and take her for hikes anymore, and also no one is petting her and no one new comes to visit. She's coping by whining subvocally CONSTANTLY for attention and asking to be allowed to go out and bask in the sun and demanding to come inside over and over and over again. We've been trying to practice indoor tricks, but it isn't the same.

And oh god, I'm terrified about trying to go back to normal, because Tribble was a separation anxiety dog as a young adult and she has adjusted to me never, ever leaving (since my partner is doing the grocery shops) with satisfied joy. I went to drop some mulberries off at a colleague's house a few weeks ago and she apparently stood at the door and whined the ENTIRE time I was gone. I think she's deciding that the odds of being able to herd everyone she likes into one place are going significantly up, and she is going to be in for a rude awakening if I'm ever able to go out again.
posted by sciatrix at 9:39 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

We've got two greyhounds, one who's been with us for a year, and one that was just adopted 3 weeks ago. Garrus, the older one, would be crated when we went to work. So now, the dogs get crated 8:30 to 1:00, even as I work from home. They're in the same room as me, but get minimal attention, and it does feel like the structure is important to framing the day.

It's been hard to say how much else has changed for Garrus, since our adoption of Mordin is a bit of a confounding factor. Is it work-from-home? Is it new 2-year-old dog? Probably mostly the latter.
posted by explosion at 9:55 AM on April 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

Our dogs were thoroughly unphased by the disruption to routine until last weekend, when I chose to burn off my own nervous energy by rearranging our entire living area, once consequence of which means they can no longer stare at us from their beds while we are eating. The smart dog is now clearly sulking about this during human dinner time, and the not so bright dog is running into the furniture more than usual, but they got access to a dog-height window that lets them watch the garden so I think it's a fair trade. I doubt they'll cope as well with change when we eventually return to work, though.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

He's a chihuahua. Weirdo is his baseline state.
posted by selfmedicating at 10:14 AM on April 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

It's not been an extreme change in our house because my roommate has worked from home 4 days a week since the time we began cohabitating. But normally I'm in the office five days a week and her one day, plus one of both of us go out at least one day per weekend for a few hours, sometimes all day, so there has been some change.

I think the cats are not seeking us out for attention any less in a day, but we are around them more so subjectively they are spending less of our potential interaction time actually interacting with us. And I agree with the article that we are trying to get more physical affection and interaction from them, which makes them skittish and worried. Magrathea does not tolerate being picked up, but will deign to sit on a person for a short time if it is entirely her own idea. Rufus is very snuggly with roommate normally but I think has been over-snuggled because he's shying away the last couple of weeks. They both are doing less 'interrupt screen time' behaviours, maybe because we are always here they don't feel so much need to push between us and our devices?

They tend to spend the morning in the sunniest windows (which are not in our working spots) doing important photosynthesis and bird watching. Once the sun is overhead they come to one or the other workspace, where we have cat beds set up, and nap until crazy time*. For roommate, it feels like they are ignoring her because on any given day one or both may chose my workspace to nap in. When only she is home, her chance of having at least one napping cat with her was much higher.

*Crazy time comes twice a day, in the pre-dawn hours and again late afternoon to early evening, it varies according to a schedule that we monkeys are not privy to. Sometimes the older cat snoozes her reminder for crazy time and the younger cat will stand somewhere (usually NOT the room she is in, especially at 3 am) and yell until she wakes up and beats him about the head and shoulders. This seems to be his desired outcome. I think it is happening more but not sure if it's because he's more needy, she's getting older and wants more napping, or I'm home more to see it happen.
posted by buildmyworld at 10:16 AM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

My dog is not acting differently and for that matter I'm not having weird dreams. Feeling left out.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

Moxxi has been extra affectionate lately and often cries in the night when she can't find where her humans are sleeping. One of us has to get up and go find her (usually in a hallway) and assure her we still exist. During the day she curls up next to my desk on a pet bed we call "the mushroom" due to its shape and she'll sleep for several hours while I work from home. Also, in the evenings she performs a range of speedy motion that the great poets have called "the zoomies" and plays with her toys.

Arwyn, our poor recently-blind cat, seems to be disgruntled that our presence in the house disrupts her daily napping routine. She has moved her daytime napping locations to places we are not in. She's cuddly at night though.

Emma, our little mouth siren, uses our increased presence to try and convince us to feed her more often.
posted by Servo5678 at 10:18 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm usually at home all day so one of my cats, Ginger, is completely co-dependent. She follows me from room to room and if she wakes up and I'm not reachable she cries, scratches at the bedroom door, and generally makes it known she needs to see me before she'll calm her shit.

Sadly, Ginger is also known to try and eat whatever I'm eating with some persistence, has rather poor claw control, and also take the most inopportune seating positions so there's a balance to achieve.

The only thing that's kind of annoying is that she'll be peacefully dozing on my lap, I'll be using my PC, and then she'll start swatting at my arm. At that point I have to just move her off my lap because she has the afore mentioned poor claw control.

I'm still going to be an inconsolable wreck when I lose her.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:36 AM on April 24, 2020 [7 favorites]

Our cat Desmond is very affectionate normally, but has been less so recently (which is still more than the average cat). I think he's annoyed that the humans who used to spend only 5-7 of their waking hours in HIS PERSONAL APARTMENT are now there ALL GODDAMN DAY and he cannot get any PEACE.

A week or two ago, one of my roommates made a couple of carpeted shelves and mounted them above the cat tree. The lowest one is over 7 feet high. Suddenly, Desmond had a place where the annoying humans could not physically reach him to scruffle his fur and interrupt his naps and tell him he's a good little fat little gentleman. As if he didn't know that already.

The first 48 hours the new shelves were there, he basically only came down to eat and use the litter box. Now he's returned to a more normal routine. But the new unreachable shelves are still his favorite place to sleep.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:05 AM on April 24, 2020 [9 favorites]

Our cats don't seem to be behaving any differently. It's hard to tell with our newest and youngest, 11-month-old D.Va, because we only got her in February so she hasn't really settled into a routine yet. She is so named because as a kitten she hitched a ride in the engine of my coworker's Chevy Volt, and because D.Va (a teenage girl who pilots a mecha, for those who don't know) was one of my husband's favorite Overwatch characters when he was still playing. She is also a diva with plenty of torti/torbietude, so it fits in many ways. Although if anyone can tell us how she appears to be comfortable with her tail like this, we'd appreciate it. D.Va spends most of the day either sacked out on the cat tree in my husband's office or staring out the living room window, chittering loudly at the birds (SLYT).

Sora is our 12-year-old, 12-pound mama's boy who will only show affection to my husband if I am not there, and who would like nothing better than to be sitting as close to my face as he can get at all times. I adopted him from a shelter at 2 months old, after he'd been found wandering alone in a parking lot.He was so tiny then , but you can see why he ended up at 12 pounds after seeing how he's tucking into that food face-first. (SLYT) Sora is so named because I was playing Kingdom Hearts II at the time. He spends most of the day sleeping in our bedroom or on the cat furniture in my office.

Sora is more affected by D.Va's sudden intrusion into his life than he is by our staying at home. We got her because we had started feeling the need for another cat after losing our dear elderly ladycat Neferin August, and because Sora seemed to be depressed. Sora and Nefer never really liked each other all that much, but he still stopped being active, hid in his house-shaped bed all day, and started vocalizing strangely. The vet gave him a physical bill of health, we adopted D.Va, and now he's giving her shit, coming out into the living room at times, and stopped making as much noise as he'd been doing. He's still hiding away a bit, but in a few more months he'll hopefully be better.
posted by telophase at 11:12 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

My cat has been hanging out in my wife's new office space in the guest bedroom while my wife is teaching. By the end of this term she will be well on her way to completing a graduate degree in experimental psychology having taken both a graduate and undergraduate research design course. Other than that she has either been sheltering in place or retreating to her own private Canada.
posted by srboisvert at 11:42 AM on April 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

Our dog is part shepherd, so she would always get SUPER excited when my wife or I got home from work. Now she gets to tend her flock all day, which she naturally considers the right and proper state of the world, so she's pleased as punch and hasn't developed any new bad habits. Except that she considers it obvious that she should be herding us OUTSIDE where it's FUN, instead of supervising our desk work for 8+ hours / day, so there's a lot of commotion any time we go near the front door.

I am a little concerned about potential attachment anxiety when we get to go back to the office, though...
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 11:58 AM on April 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm glad I'm not the only one with a cat who's always on these days. Sugar follows us around yelling at us - she wants to play with her toy, she wants to sit in my lap, she wants to take a naps (that involves yelling at me until i go upstairs), she wants food (we're now feeding her on a newborn human baby schedule, for heaven's sake). Sometimes I take a nice long walk just to get away from her.

Of course I also adore her, and she makes being home all the time really worthwhile for us.
posted by Peach at 12:32 PM on April 24, 2020 [6 favorites]

My cats are delighted to have laps available for sleeping ALL THE TIME. They do think that we should feed them like 8 times a day now though and won't be persuaded otherwise.
posted by stillnocturnal at 12:33 PM on April 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

The rats are accustomed to having BlueNorther at home during the day, and seem rather pleased to have me there too. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home during lockdown: popping by the cage on the way to/from tea-breaks, and during dinner-break, to give them scritches and cuddles, is bolstering my mood nicely.

The lads - Grantaire, Gavroche, and Bishop Myriel - posing artistically, and demonstrating the Stack-A-Rat formation.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 5:28 PM on April 24, 2020 [9 favorites]

Freddie Mac is happy to spend so much time with us but Fannie Mae seems pissed that I'm not going to work and thua she doesn't get any alone time with her daddy anymore.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:54 PM on April 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

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