How To Distract Your Cats When You Work At Home

When it comes to work at home distractions, cats can rank right up there with kids. An affectionate cat may not settle for a mere lap – they want your keyboard, or maybe that spot right in front of your monitor. It can be very necessary to distract your cats when you work at home.

Closing your home office door isn’t always enough, either. Cats find closed doors quite intriguing. They’ll scratch or meow at it enough to be a distraction for you as you try to work. They don’t necessarily want in; they just want that door open so they have the option.

I have four cats here. Three are completely loyal to me, and it’s common to have all four in and out of my office as I work. If I don’t have things set up, they walk across my desk, across me, use me for a scratching post (gently), or sit on my head and chair headrest. That last gets a bit awkward, but it’s kind of funny too.

Set Up A Cat Trap (Bed)

Setting up a place for the cats to sleep in my office that isn’t on me or my desk is one of my most effective techniques. Give them a comfortable place to sleep, and cats probably will. Cats love to sleep, so it’s the perfect way to distract your cats.

We have a sherpa blanket from Costco that we joke is the perfect cat trap. My cats cannot walk across it without stopping to purr and knead. I just plunk it on my futon and let it attract the cats. It’s absurdly effective.

I also keep a small blanket on an out of the way corner of my desk, for those cats who need to be close. It’s not as nice as the sherpa blanket, but sometimes a cat will pick it.

Alternatively, put a piece of paper on the ground. Cats can’t resist that for some reason. They may not stay long, but they will sit on the paper.

sleepy cats

Give Them A View

If the cat trap doesn’t work, an open window blind might. Cats love to have a view.

At the very least, make it easy for them to get to the window through the blinds. I usually have to open them or the cats will work noisily at getting past them, or come complain to me that they can’t. They love watching the birds and lizards outside, as well as glaring at evil interlopers, such as stray cats or a dog walking by. One of my cats even growls at the mailman.

If the weather is suitable, cats are even happier if you open the window so they can smell the world outside. That doesn’t work so well in hot or cold weather, but it’s great on mild days.

Keep Their Toys Out Of Your Home Office

Just as with children’s toys, you’re best off keeping your home office clear of cat toys. Cat toys aren’t usually all that loud, but the cats can get quite active playing with them, and it’s a distraction.

Instead, keep a good supply of cat toys elsewhere. We have these little mouse toys with feathers that the cats all utterly adore. We used to get them at Walmart, but these days Amazon is our only choice. The feathers and the fur make all the difference in comparison to other mouse toys, which my cats completely ignore.

Beware that one cat who must display her “kill” to you. My cat Melody has to go around the house when she catches a toy, meowing loudly to announce her kill. We haven’t been able to teach her that it’s rude to talk with her mouth full.

Set Up A Cat Tree In Another Room

Cats love to get up high. A nice tall cat tree in another room will encourage them to go there for their climbing and scratching needs.

It won’t be entirely effective, most likely. One of my cats likes to scratch (gently) on my jeans for attention, while another likes to see how far up the back of my office chair he can stretch. But it helps.

melody and river

Have More Than One Cat

I always get cats in pairs. They’ll bother you less when they have a friend to play with. This is easiest to do when you initially adopt the cats, but it is possible to work a new cat into a household. If possible, have a friend be the one to carry the cat into the house – your cats might blame the friend rather than you for the interloper.

Get A Fish Tank To Distract Your Cats

We call our fish tank “cat TV.” The cats love to watch the fish and are eternally convinced that they will someday catch that algae eater. He’s their favorite target. Fish are a great way to distract your cats and to get a few laughs watching the cats trying to get the fish. We put tape sticky side up on top of the tank to keep the cats off.

cat tv

Let Them Storm The Castle

My cats have inherited a popup castle from my kids. They play in it far more than the kids ever did. The only hard part is keeping the castle standing. One of the cats is named Storm, so there are always jokes about Storm in the castle. It makes a great place for the cats to wrestle each other.

Have fun, Storm in the castle

Play With Them When You Aren’t Working

Get your cats used to playing with you when you aren’t trying to work. My son’s cat (she chose him, she’s the only cat not loyal to me here), demands her playtime with him every evening around nine or so. She goes to her murder hole (the space between the seats on our couch recliner) and waits for his fingers to appear so she can attack. It’s utterly adorable watching her wait for him to notice her, and then attack. It looks ferocious, but it’s gentle.

Few things will distract your cats completely when you work at home, short of closing your office door, and even that can be only so effective at keeping them quiet. You can, however, make it easier for them to choose to be out of your way. Most of them will also generate endless cute moments with your cats, which you can always enjoy.