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Keep departures and arrivals low-key. When you get ready to leave, don’t say a complicated goodbye to your cat; instead, make only a slight, non-emotional acknowledgement of your departure. When you return, greet your cat only after he stops all attention seeking (like meowing and pawing) and give him attention only as long as he remains calm — for instance, while he is lying down or sitting on a perching area.
Leave him a challenge. When you go, give your cat a challenging food puzzle. This helps him associate your departure with something he enjoys. Use a variety of food puzzles, from those filled with loose kibble or treats to those with soft filling, like canned cat food. In addition, hide small pieces of food or puzzles around your house, such as on perches and cat trees, to create a scavenger hunt for your cat. If you will be gone for an extended period, ask your cat’s caretaker to rotate puzzles and hide treats at least once or twice a day.
Provide a wide variety of toys. Keep him busy with mice or ball-on-track toys, or interactive, robotic cat toys. Catnip-filled toys may have the added bonus of helping your cat to relax.
Incorporate perching areas. Cats enjoy exploring vertical spaces as well as having a high vantage point from which to view the outside world. Window perches, cat trees and cat-friendly shelving are ideal ways to vary your cat’s environment. Some cats also enjoy hiding; for these cats, boxes and tunnels can be soothing areas to relax.
Create a calm atmosphere. Feliway room diffusers release a pheromone that has a profound relaxation effect on many felines; use them in rooms where your cat is most likely to spend his time. Playing music while you’re away can also soothe your cat. Through a Cat’s Ear was composed specifically to promote feline relaxation. Finally, a shirt scented with your smell can be placed in your cat’s resting areas to provide physical comfort.
Provide entertainment. If you’re willing to have the television on, cat-friendly programming from Animal Planet or videos designed for cats can help keep your feline entertained. Cat-friendly grass also gives your cat something to nibble on while you’re gone.
Find a committed cat sitter. If possible, your sitter should engage in twice-daily play and petting sessions with your cat. However, you may want to consider having someone stay overnight with your cat to provide more regular interaction and help keep his stress level low while you’re away.
You may also want to read the Vetstreet article "5 Secrets of Supremely Happy Indoor Cats."
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