Cats Can Have Separation Anxiety
26 August, 2014
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Most pet owners are aware of separation anxiety in dogs, but cats can also suffer from this affliction.   Since cats have a harder time expressing themselves than dogs, the signs can be harder to detect.  Below will give you some insight into the symptoms of separation anxiety in cats and how you can treat it.


Signs of separation anxiety in cats


Some of the signs of feline anxiety can include: hiding, pacing, spraying of urine, a loss of appetite, biting at his or her tail or fur, vomiting or meowing more often than usual. If this happens, try to monitor your cat’s behavior for any significant changes or worsening of symptoms.  Other signs may include excessive self-grooming, eating too fast or not eating at all when the cat parent isn’t present.


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Cats can have separation anxiety due to a change in their environment


Cats can experience anxiety for a number of reasons. A new pet or family member can be enough to trigger stress. Also, situations like moving to a new home, changing your cat’s meal time or any other environmental changes can trigger an anxiety response in your cat. Believe it or not, something as simple as a change in you or a family member’s work schedule can stress out a cat.


Take your cat to the vet to rule out an underlying medical condition


When your kitty first starts acting out and nothing has changed in your cat’s home environment, take her or him to your veterinarian for a check-up.  Your vet will probably do some blood work and a physical exam to make sure that your cat isn’t sick or in pain.  If your vet gives you a clean bill of health, you now know that the separation anxiety is behavior related and can address it accordingly.


There are some cases where anti-anxiety medication may also be needed in conjunction with behavior modification. Your veterinarian will advise you based on the specifics of the cat’s case. If medication is prescribed, it needs to be used in conjunction with appropriate behavior modification and is not to be viewed as a substitute for doing the behavior work needed to relieve the cat’s anxiety.


Below are some recommendations to try on your cat to combat the separation anxiety.


Give your cat a place to call home


Give your cat a room or area that is quiet and secluded and away from all the household activity and noise. This can be her go-to place when your cat is feeling stressed.  It could even be a climb-up cat tower or shelter. Cats enjoy being off the ground where they feel safe.


Engage your cat in interactive play sessions on a daily basis


Interactive playtime allows your cat to simply enjoy being the mighty hunter. For a cat, being able to engage the prey drive and enjoy a successful capture is the ultimate in joy and satisfaction.  It could help reduce the anxiety


Don’t make a big production about leaving


If you anticipate that your cat is going to suffer from separation anxiety, you’ll just make it worse if you overdo the goodbye process. Your kitty will think you’re leaving for a month instead of just a few hours. Make your goodbyes very casual. Cats can easily pick up on the emotions of their human family members. If you’re upset, then your kitty might also be upset.


Practice leaving and returning


If your cat starts to get tense whenever he hears you pick up your keys or if he sees you reach for your purse or coat, then practice doing those things several times a day without actually leaving. Pick up your keys and put them back down. Do this multiple times. Later in the day, walk to the door and then back. Do that several times. Now, put the two together – pick up your keys, walk to the door and then back. Later in the day, put on your coat and then take it off and then add all three together – putting on your coat, getting your keys and walking to the door. Work up to actually walking out the door and then immediately returning.


Each time you walk back into the room, greet your cat casually or engage in a little play session. Vary the times you do these training sessions throughout the day or evening. Gradually increase the time spent outside of the home.


Try to pinpoint if there are particular items that are causing your kitty stress


If there are particular objects that trigger the anxiety such as your keys, your purse, your brief case – then carry those around the house for a while each day so they are no longer an anxiety trigger.  This will help your cat become immune to these items.


Only you can pinpoint what is actually stressing out your cat.  Our kitties don’t hold on to bad memories for too long, so if you can change the behavior, play with your kitties and give them lots of love and praise, you can help reduce the anxiety in your cats.

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