In the Before Times, our New York office had a very unusual permanent inhabitant: Henry, a lovable rescue cat who spent his days exploring, snoozing, and disrupting meetings at our Soho headquarters.
But Henry doesn’t just lounge around being lazy and adorable. This four-legged colleague helps inspire everyone to make insurance f*cking awesome… and he’s one of the few kitties who actually knows what co-insurance is (that’s because he’s actually read his Lemonade pet health policy).
Pre-pandemic, Henry had already been spending cozy weekends at the apartment of Homeowner Operations Specialist Dale Mackey. But once the office temporarily shuttered, this kitty had to make a full-time move into the slightly smaller Manhattan home that Dale shares with his husband.
A recent article in Vice looked at how COVID-19 has affected the lives of our animal companions. Namely, it posited that “cats are getting sick of their owners in lockdown” and that the emotional burden of quarantine—plus the fact that we damn humans are always around now—is making some of them “aggressive.”
We thought it was as good a time as any to check in with Henry and Dale to see how Lemonade’s office cat has been holding up during this particularly grueling period of American history.
Spoiler alert: Henry may not be doing yoga every morning, and he still hasn’t learned Mandarin using Rosetta Stone… but our boy is thriving.
Has Henry’s attitude changed at all over the pandemic?
Henry’s attitude has definitely changed over the pandemic, but mostly in a good way.
Before the pandemic, Henry was pretty much the stereotypical cat. He liked to be left alone; he didn’t really seek out attention. Over the pandemic, though, he’s become a little more needy and demanding.
Whereas the old Henry was fine just sleeping in his cat tree and mostly ignoring me and my husband, the new Henry now gets in my face and meows for treats and expects to get rubs and chin scratches several times a day. I’ll know he’s ready for rubs because he meows and runs to ‘his’ spot on the bed, continuing to meow until I get on the bed to rub him. Of course, true to his old self, any affection is on his terms.
I was worried about his neediness at first, afraid that it was a sign of stress. But a few months into the pandemic, I asked a cat behaviorist about the behavior. His response? ‘It sounds to me like you’ve just made Henry aware of needs he didn’t know he had. Now he’s asking for them to be met!’
Does Henry seem moody, irritable, a little ‘over it’…as we all are?
He definitely misses being able to go outside the apartment. Before the pandemic, my husband and I would take Henry for walks (on a leash) in Central Park and around the apartment building’s courtyard. Once the pandemic hit, though, we stopped.
Like a lot of cats, Henry hates a closed door. And the fact that he already knows the exploration that awaits beyond our front door makes him frustrated when he can’t go outside.
He’s actually escaped out the door a couple of times recently—including this week, when I had to chase him down a flight of stairs in nothing but boxer shorts at 8am.
How do you manage to give Henry his space, when everyone is stuck inside?
Henry has no problem letting us know when he wants to be alone. If he’s asleep, we don’t try to pet him or do anything to distract his sleep. If he’s asleep on the bed, we’ll even turn on the space heater and slightly close the bedroom door, so it gets nice and toasty for him.
I also bought Henry his own felt cat cave that he gets in when he wants to be alone. I think he also likes it because of the warmth. We also just bought a second cat tree for him, which means he has one in the living room and one in the bedroom. He definitely has ‘his’ spaces in the apartment.
What has been the hardest part of all of this for Henry?
So here’s the most amazing thing—I think the hardest part of the pandemic for Henry is that he’s gotten accustomed to being around me and my husband, practically 24/7.
It’s clear Henry wants us both at home at all times. My husband has to go into his office two days a week, and those days Henry is definitely more vocal and rambunctious. And my husband has said Henry is the same way if I go out for anything.
Pre-pandemic, if we left him alone any part of the weekend, we’d come home to find him asleep either on the bed or in his cat tree—unbothered by our absence. Now, when we leave him alone, he is always waiting for us at the door when we get home and follows us around the apartment to make sure we don’t leave again!
Stay tuned for more Henry updates as the world slowly returns to normal-ish. And meanwhile, be sure to get your own cat (or dog) hooked up with Lemonade’s pet insurance… Henry swears by it.