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While many people (myself included) love seeing pets on Zoom, it’s not always professional or desirable. When you’re in the midst of a pitch, a performance review, or an interview, you might not want Fluffy’s luxurious tail waving across the screen.
The good news is, we can easily train your cat to stop interrupting Zoom meetings – all it takes is a bit of creativity and something that trainers call antecedent arrangement.
Rather than simply shutting your cat out of the room (which may result in a yowling kitty), we’ll figure out how to show your cat a better place to hang out.
Understanding why your cat interrupts your Zoom meeting is key to solving the problem. Generally speaking, cats interrupt Zoom meetings because they’re bored, lonely, and/or cold. Interrupting your meeting gives them attention, an interesting distraction, or a warm place to hang out (like your keyboard or lap).
Here are 3 easy tips to teach your cat to stop interrupting Zoom meetings:
- Tire your kitty out before work. It’s absolutely imperative for all animal training to ensure that your animal’s needs are being met before you embark on a new project. If your cat is interrupting meetings because she’s lonely or bored, your first step is to reduce those feelings. Use a wand toy to play an interactive game with your cat for 5-15 minutes before your call. Try to make the toy act just like a bird, and let your cat catch and kill the toy at the end. Finish up with a small tasty snack for your cat, like a bit of canned cat food or tuna. This high-protein snack after a play session helps your cat feel like she really caught and ate her dinner, and will put her right to bed!
- Create a Kitty Corner that’s away from your camera. A squishy warm bed right near the action will go a long way towards keeping your cat off-screen. Generally cats seek out sleeping places that are high up, semi-walled, and warm – that’s partially why they love our laps and keyboards so much! If your cat’s social and exercise needs have been well-met, your next step is to convince her to curl up off-camera. Place this heated cat bed on a shelf, desk, or window sill near your desk so that she’s able to hang nearby in a warm, cozy place.
- Use puzzle toys and treats to entice your kitty to stay away. Want to really make your Kitty Corner extra-enticing? Hide treats and interactive puzzle toys in the heated bed to help your cat really learn to love to stay there. If there’s tasty treats in the bed and none on your desk, your cat is likely to stay put over in her bed. You can be extra-clever by intermittently giving your cat a few treats when she’s hanging in her bed instead of on your desk.
You may also want to avoid scheduling meetings right before your kitty’s dinner or feeding your cat right before your call so that a hangry cat doesn’t interrupt your call!
Kayla founded Journey Dog Training in 2013 to provide high-quality and affordable dog behavior advice. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant who’s worked with hundreds of private clients, thousands of shelter dogs, and dozens of working detection dogs. Kayla’s dog and cat behavior advice has been featured in NPR, the Chicago Tribune, and Pet MD. She’s an avid adventurer who is currently doing #vanlife on the Pan-American Highway with her two border collies and a cat. Aside from running Journey Dog Training, Kayla also runs the nonprofit K9 Conservationists, where she and the dogs work as conservation detection dog teams. You can get 1:1 advice with a Journey Dog Training team member here.