Here we are locked down at home, with our pets being a major source of distraction as we try to alleviate anxiety and find ways of not becoming addicted to reading the news and obsessing about Covid-19 and our collective futures.

Our three cats and two dogs provide solace, companionship and entertainment. And in some ways they are our teachers too. Here are some tips I picked up from our cats on things to do during lockdown.

Visiting websites is likely one of the commonest ways of dealing with lockdown, be it for information or entertainment. Our late cat, Ned, put a different spin on it when, some years back, he visited a non-digital website and returned home festooned with the evidence, as shown in the picture below.

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During prolonged social isolation during lockdown, many people are benefiting from meditating so as to feel grounded and to help calm the mind, something Nina seems to do instinctively.

Cat meditating.

When confined to our homes we have to be creative about getting exercise both to keep fit and to relax muscle tension. Yoga is a popular way of doing this, and Nina shows here how she has her own way of relaxing those neck muscles and releasing tension.

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Many people who used to go to the gym prior to  lockdown have been finding everyday items to use as basic equipment to assist them with their physical fitness routines. Ella shows how to improvise equipment as she warms up prior to doing her isometric exercises.

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Despite the many creative ways of exercising at home there may well be times when the confinement drives you stir crazy, and may even make you want to climb the wall. Nougat devised a way of doing this, which I show you as a matter of interest only as I do not recommend you try this at home.

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Nina tends to take an opposite approach and buries herself under a mat or blanket, creating her own safe cave-like space, and there may be times when you benefit from doing likewise.

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Another comforting option, if you are lucky to have a sunny window, is sunbathing from the shelter and safety of indoors. Nougat is a rather exuberant sunbather.

Nougat the cat sunbathing.

Ella has found a sunny patch where in a rather more decorous fashion she combines sunbathing with meditation.

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Other options for keeping oneself entertained during lockdown include of course games. Imagining yourself as a famous person from history and devising ways of dressing appropriately is not only diverting but can lead to interesting posts on social media.

Although she has a limited range, Nina can be very good at impersonating regal personalities from days gone by. Can you guess which Queen from ancient times she is pretending to be here? (Tip: the eyeliner is a clue.)

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As usual, Nougat has a more renegade approach to games. Here he plays the rather unnerving role of a ghost haunting the bookcase. Somehow he hides behind the books, and bursts out ghoulishly when least expected.

Nougat the cat haunting the bookshelves.

Cuddly toys can make comforting companions during lockdown, no matter what your age is. I made a companion toy cat for Nougat out of scraps of fabric, and here he is greeting his new friend.

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Adapting toys to be more interesting can require some ingenuity that can lead to repurposing. In the video below Ella provides an illustration of how to turn a toy, which was originally designed to encourage the player to spin a ball in a circular channel, into a puzzle that draws not only on dexterity and problem-solving abilities, but also on a high level of determination as she tries to extract the ball from the channel.

And Nougat shows how tactile experiences can be taken to a new level. He loves smooth surfaces and has devised games where he paddles his front paws on smooth surfaces be they windows, mirrors, boxes, the top of my laptop or even the back of the loo.

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These games have evolved alongside a high level of creativity where Nougat develops his talent as a percussionist. I am sure that any of you with a musician’s or dancer’s sense of rhythm can draw inspiration from Nougat’s routine where the shower door is used percussively against the bathroom wall.

Thanks for playing along, and perhaps these tips from the cats can contribute to enriching your lockdown living. I hope that at the very least you can find a sunny spot to enjoy from time to time.

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Keep safe during these times.

Posted by Carol

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