Things You Can Do To Combat Separation Anxiety In Cats
Recognizing separation anxiety in your cat is part of the battle. There are some steps and actions that you can take to try and resolve the issue, giving you and your cat greater peace of mind. After all, you cant take your cat to work or on the weekly shopping run so you need to find a way to be able to leave the house without it leading to anxiety.
Ways To Help Keep Your Cat Calm
Talk to your vet.Prepare your cat with mini absences.Remove departure cues.Keep departures and arrivals low-key.Leave him a challenge.food puzzleProvide a wide variety of toys.Incorporate perching areas.high vantage pointCreate a calm atmosphere.Through a Cats EarProvide entertainment.Find a committed cat sitter.twice-daily play and petting sessionsYou may also want to read the Vetstreet article 5 Secrets of Supremely Happy Indoor Cats.
What Causes Cat Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety in cats is a serious issue that can be caused by many different factors. In general, the factors leading to are as follows:
- Genetics. Certain cat breeds are more likely to exhibit separation anxiety issues. For example, Burmese and Siamese cats are more frequently diagnosed with separation anxiety.
- Loneliness. Loneliness causes separation anxiety. Orphaned, early-weaned, and store-bought kittens are more prone to separation anxiety. is more likely in cats living in a one-pet household, cats that lack toys, and cats that spend long periods of time alone.
- Change in Living Conditions. Cats are creatures of habit and have a hard time adjusting to changes. Even simple changes, like a new family member or rearranging the bedroom furniture, can cause the cat to experience separation anxiety.
You May Like: What Happens In A Ptsd Episode
Why Does My Cat Have Separation Anxiety
It might seem odd to think of cats as having separation anxiety since so many cats tend to be naturally solitary. But according to Manhattan Cat Specialists, it all comes down to a cats individual personality. Just like us, some cats are loners and some crave interaction with others. Some cats can actually be very social and form strong bonds with you, other people, and other pets. If those bonds are disrupted, the cat may become upset and anxious.
Do Cats Get Separation Anxiety When Youre Away
There are some surprising causes of separation anxiety in cats, and some only get separation anxiety when their humans are gone for long periods of time. If your cat is only anxious when youre away traveling, there may be other specific methods of reducing anxiety while youre gone for days at a time.
You May Like: Do Eating Disorders Cause Infertility
Treatment Of Separation Anxiety In Cats
Treatment for separation anxiety in cats falls into two main categories, behavioral modification and medication. Many cats can have their seperation anxiety addressed with behavioral modification. Your vet can help you with these techniques. In cats with biological factors contributing to their anxiety, medication may be required if behavior modification techniques do not adequately address their symptoms.
Behavioral therapy to reduce separation anxiety includes not reinforcing unwanted, needy, attention-seeking behaviour. Your cat should be rewarded when they exhibit, quiet, calm, independent activity. Stimulation in the environment to thwart boredom and distract your cat from separation issues include providing toys, cat trees, access to windows, puzzle feeders, and music or DVDs designed to stimulate cats. Exercise and playtime are also important in reducing anxiety in your cat.
Worried about the cost of Separation Anxiety treatment?
Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.
How To Tell If Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
Cats are considered to be independent creatures, so its hard to believe that they might suffer from separation anxiety. Cats are actually quite social and form strong bonds with their owners. They are also creatures of habit that dont like change that much. If youve had changes in your daily routine or work schedule that take you away from home more often, your cat might feel like theyve been abandoned. While youre away, kitty anxiety can kick into overdrive.
Don’t Miss: Is Emetophobia And Eating Disorder
Behavior Modifications For Cat Separation Anxiety
Behavior modification is the pet equivalent to cognitive therapy in humans it teaches the cat coping skills and changes its emotional response to the stress trigger . Behavior modification for separation anxiety includes two techniques:
- Systematic desensitization. The cat is gradually exposed to the trigger in order to associate it with a positive experience. Desensitization is a slow process, and owners must be careful not to exceed the cats threshold during exposure.
- Counterconditioning. Counterconditioning involves changing a pets response to a situation. For example, giving a cat its favorite treat or toy as its owner leaves the house can change its response to being left alone.
When Medication Is Necessary
Your vet will decide when your cats anxiety is serious enough to warrant the use of anti-anxiety medication. Each cat is different, and drugs dont come without side effects, so this decision shouldnt be taken lightly. Sometimes, however, medications are needed for your cats overall well-being.
Several different drugs are used for anxiety in cats, including short and long-acting medications. Short-acting medication is given before the anxiety-inducing event, whereas long-acting medication is given daily.
You May Like: How To Recover From An Eating Disorder
Talk With Your Veterinarian
It makes sense that the human desire for a devoted companion can also lead to hyper-attachment and separation anxiety. Like any illness, diagnosing and starting treatment early gives your cat the best prognosis.
Speak with your veterinarian if you notice any signs that cause you concern. If needed, there are veterinary behaviorists who focus solely on pet psychiatry to help your beloved family member.
Your veterinarian can help recommend a veterinary behaviorist in your area. You can also check this directory to find a board-certified veterinary behaviorist near you.
Diagnosis Of Separation Anxiety In Cats
Diagnosis of anxiety disorder depends heavily on the elimination of any other causes of symptoms. For example, skin disorders that may account for excessive grooming, urinary tract infection or bowel disorder that may account for house soiling, or gastrointestinal disorders. To eliminate other conditions your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and possibly conduct routine blood and urine tests.
As a pet owner, any details you can provide your veterinarian on your pet’s medical history and behavior will help them to diagnose your cat if separation anxiety is occurring.
You May Like: How Does Therapy Help Anxiety
Lack Of Stimuli Or Changes In Routine
Cats that lack playtime and attention tend to get overly attached to their owners. Sudden changes in their daily routines, like a move, a death, the birth of a baby, the addition of another pet, or a change in your work schedule, can also cause anxiety. Even changing to Daylight Savings Time can impact their mood!
Cats are also good at reading our moods and emotions. If you are anxious about things, your cat might get anxious too.
What Causes Separation Anxiety
Katribe said the exact cause of separation anxiety is unknown, but it’s likely a combination of “environmental and hereditary” factors. Any cat can develop separation anxiety, but some cats are more prone to it, such as kittens who were orphaned, bottle-fed, or weaned too young, or cats that have spent a lot of time in shelters and are unaccustomed to consistent human interaction. Cat behavior expert Ramona Marek writes about how kittens that didn’t have an opportunity to form secure attachments or build resilience to stress are not as equipped to handle changes.
Sudden changes to routines can trigger separation anxiety. Your cat has grown accustomed to you being home all the time, so going back to an office or simply leaving more often might cause an adverse reaction.
Signs And Symptoms Of Separation Anxiety In Cats
Does your cat display any of the following symptoms of separation anxiety? If so, it might be time to see the vet.
- Peeing or pooping outside the litter box
- Increased vocalization
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive grooming
- Increased activity
Because cats are good at hiding it when something is wrong, it can be helpful to keep an eye on your cat when you’re not home to see if he or she displays any of these indicative behaviors. According to Martin, “Video camera recordings can be instrumental in diagnosing separation anxiety in cats, as some clinical signs may be missed or go unobserved when the owner returns to the cat.
“If you notice any of the common signs of separation anxiety, don’t assume it’s an automatic diagnosis, as these symptoms can also potentially arise from other health issues. Martin recommends contacting a veterinarian to rule out other medical causes of anxiety and get guidance on a proper treatment plan.
Can You Prevent Or Curb Separation Anxiety In Cats
Kornreich says preventing or curbing separation anxiety is about preparation. That means learning about cat behavior and how to identify the signs of a problem, understanding that there are tools and resources to minimize the likelihood of separation anxiety, and knowing that talking to a veterinarian can empower you to address the problem.
Also Check: How To Heal From Ptsd
Can It Be Cured
This is a tricky one. There is no cure, as such, for many behavioural issues, but it is very much possible to manage anxiety in such a way as to make your cats life much happier. A good routine, some measures to keep your cat settled and interested when youre away, and a safe place to hide can be all thats needed to ensure your cat no longer becomes distressed when you leave. It is not feasible to expect cat owners to never leave the house, but these simple changes can make the experience much more pleasant for all.
Recovery Of Separation Anxiety In Cats
Behavior modification techniques recommended by your veterinarian should be implemented and any medications prescribed should be administered as directed. Technology such as pet cams, and environmental modification such as perch areas and special toys may be helpful at providing anxiety reducing stimulation. Your veterinarian will be able to make recommendations on effective activities.
Introducing another cat for company may make the situation worse and should not be attempted while your cat is still showing signs of recovery from their anxiety. If possible, a bird feeder in front of a window may provide a useful distraction for your cat. When available, a cat sitter that will play with and pet your cat when you are away for extended periods will be beneficial at reducing separation anxiety. Keep departures low key, and do not advertise your coming and going. A combination of behavioral techniques and medication, if deemed necessary by your veterinarian, should be effective at resolving separation anxiety issues.
Read Also: What Kinds Of Depression Are There
Minimizing Hairballs In Cats
Hairballsyuck! While you cant prevent cat hairballs altogether, there are ways to minimize them. Find out what hairball remedy might be right for your feline.
*Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For all terms and conditions visit www.aspcapetinsurance.com/terms. Preventive and Wellness Care reimbursements are based on a schedule. Complete Coverage reimbursements are based on the invoice. Levels 1-4 reimbursements are based on usual and customary eligible costs. Products, schedules, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Discounts may vary and are subject to change. More information available at checkout.
The ASPCA® is not an insurer and is not engaged in the business of insurance. Products are underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company , produced and administered by C& F Insurance Agency, Inc. , a Crum & Forster company. Through a licensing agreement, the ASPCA receives a royalty fee that is in exchange for use of the ASPCAs marks and is not a charitable contribution. C& F and Crum & Forster are registered trademarks of United States Fire Insurance Company. Crum & Forster Pet Insurance Group is a trademark of United States Fire Insurance Company. The Crum & Forster group of companies is rated A by AM Best Company 2020.
How Can I Manage Separation Anxiety With My Cat
So you have determined that your cat is experiencing separation anxiety now what? There are a lot of steps you can take to help alleviate their anxiety. You can try getting them a cat friend to spend time with around the house when you are away. If this isnt an option or if you already have more than one cat in the home, then try one of the following methods:
1. Talk to a Veterinarian
You can talk to your veterinarian about pharmaceuticals or neurotics that might help your cat. Some of the signs of separation anxiety might also be related to other medical conditions, such as excessive grooming or vomiting, so talking to a vet might help you catch other issues as well.
2. Behavior Modification
You can try to change both your behavior as well as your cats to reduce their anxiety. Cats are smart, and they might pick up on cues that tell them you will be leaving, such as rattling keys or putting on shoes or a coat. Try to change the way you exit, such as taking your shoes off again, or exiting the house and then returning a moment later. Help your cat get ahead of their own anticipatory thoughts. Learn more about our behavior modification services.
3. Make Them Comfortable at Home
Also Check: Is Schizophrenia A Neuropsychiatric Disorder
Changes In Your Cats Environment
Cats adore routine and thrive on it, to the point that changing anything can potentially cause them to become stressed. When cat owners go on a vacation a lot of things change for their pets, including the absence of their owners, different feeding times, less attention, new people, and sometimes new environments if they are being boarded.
It can take your cat anywhere from five days to two weeks to adjust and accept a new routineand sometimes even longer. Just consider how long it takes some cats to accept new cats into their homes or to adjust to a new house. Both of these situations demonstrate how inflexible cats potentially are. A stranger, such as a pet sitter, who doesnt adhere to the routine also adds stress to your cats life. By the time your cat becomes used to the new routine with the pet sitter you return from vacation and change their daily routine again. You also no longer smell familiar to your cat because they havent been able to refresh their cheek-rub markings while youve been away. As a result, some cats hide, become defensive, or exhibit unwanted behaviors.
How To Help Reduce The Likelihood Of Separation Anxiety After Lockdown Restrictions Are Lifted
Although every animals journey will be different, the end goal is the same to change the relationship with the owner so that the animal is not so dependent on them. As you may currently be at home together all the time, your cat may have become increasingly attached and it may be a good idea to help your cat understand that she cant constantly be interacting with you. There are several things a pet behaviourist might suggest:
The most important thing to remember with any anxious pet is that you need to be patient and understand that your cat is in distress. We must also remember than the coronavirus has not only changed the way we are living, but also the lives and routines of our pets too and that cats are incredibly intuitive and pick up on our own stress and anxiety. There is no quick fix to separation anxiety and remember, it is rare in cats. Whatever you do, never punish your pet for stress-related behaviour, such as scratching or spraying it will only make the problem much worse! Always seek professional advice and try not to get angry with your cat.
Also Check: When Was The Depression Era
How Do You Know If Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
If you suspect that your cat has separation anxiety, it can be helpful to keep an eye out for certain behaviors. There can be many signs of separation anxiety in cats, including increased vocalization like meowing or crying, either when you leave or as you are getting ready to go. You may also notice your cat refusing to use their litter box. Other behaviors related to anxiety involve excessive grooming, destructive habits, extreme attachment, and attention-seeking behaviors whenever you are around.
Many cats will display these signs whenever you are not home. While it can be easy to tell when they are partaking in destructive behaviors , other signs such as increased vocality are obviously more difficult to pinpoint since youre not home. To help with this, try setting up a camera whenever you will be leaving your cat alone at home.
Another way to tell if your cat is experiencing separation anxiety is to watch their behavior as you prepare to leavewhether you are packing a suitcase or just grabbing your car keys. Take note if they begin acting differently whenever you go through the motions of departing the house. Our feline friends are incredibly smart and can pick up on our behaviors and habits. Just from grabbing your wallet or putting on your shoes, your cat can know that that means you will be gone for an extended time.