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Pets of U of T: Papaya

Dealing with separation anxiety from COVID-19
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Papaya hopes her humans will never leave her. RACHEL HUGHES/THE VARSITY
Papaya hopes her humans will never leave her. RACHEL HUGHES/THE VARSITY

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than just humans — it has also impacted those animals we care for as pets. With the added pressure of the pandemic and all the extra time spent at home, many have turned to adopting pets. Reasons for adopting a pet during the pandemic range from “seeking companionship” to feeling that one has extra time to devote to a pet. 

 

 

I — a fourth-year student studying English at UTSG — adopted a kitten named Papaya during the pandemic. Papaya is only six months old and is certainly what people would call a ‘COVID kitty’ — Papaya can never be left alone, even when sleeping. 

 

 

Some vets are concerned that ‘COVID pets’ such as Papaya may get separation anxiety after the pandemic is over when their humans return to their normal routine of leaving the house. After getting used to spending so much time with their owners, pets may become distressed when their owners leave.

 

 

If you have a pet — adopted during the pandemic or not — it is important to ensure that you slowly ease them into new routines in order to cope with separation anxiety. Depending on the situation and restrictions at home, start with leaving for small moments at a time, gradually progressing into your full routine. 

 

 

These are difficult times for everyone, including our pets, but step-by-step, we’ll make it through!