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Having a Pet When You Work from Home

Like many people who have Instagram or other social media accounts, my feed contains a disproportionate number of pictures of my two cats. Siblings we rescued a month apart, due to a third sister passing as a kitten and not wanting to leave the brother alone, Clyde and Belle are my constant furry companions during my days working from the house. At just over two years old, they are vocal, active, and very much into food, catnip, and sleeping. And while they have their moments of trouble and brattiness, they are one of the best parts of my #homestudiolife.

Belle, who talks. A lot.

We adopted them before I started to work as a full-time narrator, but it wasn’t until I spent vacation days at home during the transition period that I fully appreciated how much I needed some companionship when there weren’t any other humans in the house. Sure, Clyde will wait until I’m halfway through a really engaging chapter before sitting outside the studio door and adding his own vocalization of space marine kitties, and Belle will demand her lap skritching time just as I’m ready to get up from my desk, but their presence has so many positive benefits, it’s easy to give them a pass on those behaviors. My mental and emotional health is so much better with them in my life, and it’s made the move to full-time narration a little bit easier.

Of course, having a pet requires a commitment. The kids pitch in to help with litterboxes and refilling water bowls, I’m the twice-daily Giver of Food and dispenser of asthma medication (yes, I have an asthmatic cat… imagine the sound of trying to hack up a hairball and never succeeding, followed by the grossest throat-clearing sound ever, and that’s what happens without meds), and my husband is the world’s best cat snuggler and surreptitious giver of frozen yogurt. We have a great vet and stay up to date with shots, and our cats are part of our family.

Clyde, selfie skeptic.

During the day, we joke that they are my Human Resource Managers at the Voices by Veronica studios. Even as I work on this post, they are sitting behind me on the floor, tucked into that “loaf of bread” position so well known to any cat owner. During the day, they’ll hop up onto the desk next to me and sleep. If I’m in the studio, Clyde might sit outside the door and doze on a cushion. When I sit at the desk for too long, Belle will come up and meow in a way that reminds me of Sophia from The Golden Girls (seriously, she’s got some sassy cranky vibes) until I stop what I’m doing, pick her up, and hold her in my lap.

If you’ve wondered whether or not having a pet would contribute to your #homestudiolife productivity, let me offer you five reasons why it’s a good idea to have your own non-human Human Resource Managers.

  1. Someone is always around to listen. Cats might not look like they’re listening, but let’s face it, that’s not going to stop us. Sometimes, the best way to figure out a problem or work through a frustration is to talk out loud and hear our words. With a pet, you’ve got something with eyes and a pulse that provides a (usually) silent listener. “How am I supposed to respond to this email?” “Do I need another cup of coffee, or should I get started on this book prep?” “Why did I schedule these gigs back to back?” They might not offer advice, but having that silent sounding board can make working through problems a little easier.
  2. Someone is there to keep you on task. I joke that my furry HR managers keep an eye on me during the day, but it’s true. On the days when I’m doing administrative work – social media, blog posts, invoices, narration homework – the visual of the cat not five feet from my shoulder reminds me that I Should Be Working and not finding old episodes of Whose Line Is It Anyway? to watch online. To add to that, pets fall into routines, and you’ll get a weird look if you don’t move to your desk or studio in an appropriate amount of time. They might not have the same responsibilities, but they can be there to remind you of yours.
  3. Someone reminds you to take a break. Dog owners might have it easier, as it’s way easier to go for a walk or play outside with a happy pupper. My cats are terrified of the Great Outdoors and equate going through a door with The Car Ride of Awful, so we don’t get breaks in the backyard. Any pet can be there for a quick skritch break, though. Getting up for five minutes, walking around the space, and giving your buddy a little bit of affection attention is good for your workflow and good for your emotional health.
  4. Someone is there to share your social media. Now, don’t go and get a pet just because you need someone to pretty up your Instagram, but adding a pet to your posts can make your social media presence more fun. One of my authors, Terry Mixon, is in the running for World’s Best Cat Person Ever. Seriously, the man’s heart has hundreds of pawprints all over it, and he posts pictures and videos of his cats on a near-daily basis. Do they have anything to do with space opera and sci-fi? Not really, but it’s a way to connect with his readers and listeners. Narrators like Johnny Heller and Joel Leslie Froomkin post pictures of their dogs (and those are spoiled pups, lemme tell you!), and people love seeing them. Pets spice up your life in person as well as online.
  5. Someone is not going to judge you for a bad day. We all have crummy days. Maybe you’re stuck with a cold that has you sounding more froggy than fresh. Maybe it’s an endless cycle of lawnmowers, power washers, and diesel trucks rumbling down the road and making recording nearly impossible. Maybe it’s a string of “Thanks, but we’ve chosen a different voice,” emails for a dozen auditions you’ve submitted. Maybe it’s the sheer inability to string syllables together because your tongue has decided that words just aren’t important today. Whatever it is, your pet is not going to judge you. You are there, you love them, and therefore, you’re perfect in their eyes, no matter how awful your day on the mic is going.

Be they furred or feathered, smooth or scaled, pet can enrich your #homestudiolife in many ways. And don’t forget, there are plenty of adoptable pets in local shelters and rescues who would love to manage you as their very own Human Resource! Why not do an interview at an adoption event near you and see if you can find the right animal for the job?

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