Are Some Cats More Anxious Than Others
You might have noticed that some cats saunter around without a care in the world, while others are known for being skittish scaredy cats. And this makes sense because cats personalities and life experiences are all different.
Just like humans, some cats are more anxious than others, says Mikel Delgado, PhD, a postdoctoral veterinary fellow, certified applied animal behaviorist, and resident cat expert for the pet food company Smalls. This is due in part to genetics, so some cats just might be born a bit more prone to anxiety. At the same time, socialization at a young age will have an impact on how sensitive a cats stress response becomes.
For that reason, Delgado says its ideal for kittens to get lots of gentle, positive exposure to different people, animals, types of handling, and experiencessuch as being in a carrierwhen they are young. This early experience will help them cope better with change when they are older. While were on the subject, heres how to get your cat in a carrier without getting clawed.
Are You Concerned Your Cat Is Suffering From Anxiety
Bold, mellow, jumpy, shy every cat has a unique personality that shapes how they respond to stress. You may first notice your cat has fears and phobias anywhere from 5 months to a year old, but cats can develop new triggers at any age. Here are the physical symptoms and stress-based behaviors to watch for, as well as ways you can help your cat.
If your cat seems stressed, your first step is to consult your veterinary team to rule out any physical cause. Make an appointment
Check For Health And Behavior Causes
Cats that do not feel good can react with anxious behavior. Kitties have evolved to be great pretenders and never let on that they feel bad. Stoic cats with hidden aches show only subtle signs, if at all. A hurt paw may not cause a limp but instead prompts the cat to hide or become clingy, for example. Resolving an underlying health issue often relieves anxious behaviors.
For a cat, the unknown equals danger. Wild kitties that failed to honor this truth were taken out of the gene pool, while properly cautious cats survived to breed and passed on this caution gene to future generations. Being cautious and hiding are survival instincts, so your cat may naturally be a little more anxious than others.
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Helping Your Stressed Cat
The first thing you need to know in order to help your anxious cat is that you should never punish or scold them for their anxious behavior. This will only increase negative associations and fear and make things worse instead of better. The goal should be to help them feel safe and relaxed in their surroundings.
Once you’ve identified anxious behaviors in your cat, the first step is to make an appointment with your veterinarian to either diagnose or rule out any underlying health issues or toxins that might be causing your kitty stress. Because cats tend to hide their pain, this is not something that is likely to be obvious, and may require a thorough series of blood panels and other tests. If it turns out that your cat is suffering from pain or a medical issue, treating the issue may be all that’s required to eliminate the anxious behavior and help your kitty get back to their normal self.
On the other hand, if your vet rules out a physical problem as the cause, this may mean that the issue is psychological. If this is the case, your vet should be able to advise you on a course of treatment.
How To Train Your Cat To Be Less Anxious
The Spruce / J. R. Bee
The typical anxious cat hides, urinates inappropriately, increases scratching, and/or vocalizes excessively. Some cats are naturally anxious while others can suddenly feel anxiety due to an underlying cause.
Anxiety in cats can arise from many different issues. Veterinarians and behavior specialists look at the cats physical and emotional health, as well as instinct traits to help figure out whats going on and find solutions. You can apply the H.I.S.S. test to discuss and figure out ways to reduce your feline’s anxiety.
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How To Treat And Manage Your Cats Anxiety
The best way to treat most cases of anxiety is a multi-modal approach that combines behavioral modification techniques, making changes to your cats environment, natural calming aids, and potentially anti-anxiety medication, depending on the severity of your cats anxiety. Any underlying or linked medical conditions will need to be treated as well.
Successful treatment plans require consistency and commitment, as it may take several months for your cat to overcome their anxiety, or to reduce it to a manageable level. Be patient and remember that even small changes in their behavior and symptoms will have a meaningful and cumulative impact on their wellbeing and quality of life.
Stress And Anxiety In Cats
This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Carla Paszkowski BVSc.
Could your kitty be suffering from anxiety? Cats are very prone to stress and anxiety and it can present in a number of different ways. Cats are masters of masking their anxiety, so the signs aren’t always obvious. Symptoms can also be incredibly varied – in fact, almost any problem behaviour may be caused by or exacerbated by stress.
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What Are Some Calming Medications For Cats
There are a few different types of calming medications for cats, but the most common are anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants. These medications can help to relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression in cats, and can also help to reduce stress and improve their overall mood. If you think that your cat may be suffering from anxiety or depression, it is important to talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment options.
What Causes Stress In Cats
Sometimes it’s hard to know what could be causing stress in your feline friend. Cats are complex creatures and find certain situations a lot more stressful than other animals do. For example, while dogs may be easily adaptable to change, cats often find changes to the home territory incredibly jarring. Or, while dogs enjoy meeting new dog friends, cats may find wandering neighborhood cats incredibly frightening.
It’s important to know that every cat has a different stress threshold. What stresses one cat out might not phase another cat. One cats may suffer from a full blown bout of cystitis after a vet visit, while another might be completely unphased and even enjoy an outing.
There are a number of common ‘red flag’ situations that frequently lead to stress and anxiety in cats:
- – A new pet or family member
- – Visitors to the house
- – Changes to the home territory, such as building works or renovations
- – Outings and car trips, such as to the groomer or vet
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Signs Your Cat Has Anxiety And How To Treat It
Cats experience anxiety, too, and if you knowyour cats personality well enough, you will be able to easily spot signs ofstress. If you notice your cat is acting strange or behaving unlike his normalself, theres indeed a chance that a certain event is making him anxious. Anxietyis pretty common in cats and it could lead to serious problems if left untreated.
What About Natural Medicine
Natural medicines, also known as complementary therapies, cover a wide range of products including herbs, nutraceuticals, supplements, and homeopathic remedies . Although the marketplace is full of products that claim to treat anxiety, these claims are largely anecdotal and there are few controlled studies that support their effectiveness in either humans or pets. One of the biggest concerns that many veterinarians have with complementary medicines is that there can be variability in their purity, quality, level of contaminants, and effectiveness from batch to batch. While natural products are often thought of as benign, this is not always the case, particularly when it comes to treating cats, who have different metabolic processes than we do.
“Pheromones, such as Feliway®, are natural alternatives that provide some sound scientific evidence of effectiveness and can have rapid action.”
There are veterinary products available on the market that claim to have generalized calming effects or treat anxiety disorders. Although these products generally meet a level of quality control and standardization that is similar to pharmaceuticals, studies on the effectiveness of these products are generally lacking. Most of these products are intended for use to treat behavioral problems and take several weeks to become effective. Pheromones, such as Feliway®, are natural alternatives that provide some sound scientific evidence of effectiveness and can have rapid action.
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Use Exercise To Calm Nervous Cats Down
Its also important to remember to keep your cat well stimulated and exercised. A cat with excess energy will often channel it into nervous energy, so its important to make sure they have enough toys, enrichment items and playtime each day to keep them in a calm and happy state of mind.
You can find more great advice on how to enrich your cats life on the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicines website.
Planning A Trip How To Treat A Cat With Travel Anxiety
Does your cat hate riding in the car? Its very common for cats to generally dislike travel of any kind by any means. However, with a few simple tricks, you can reduce kittys travel anxiety by a lot, even if he or she never seems particularly happy on a trip.
Unless you happen to live within walking distance of a veterinarian, your cat has to travel now and then. It pays big dividends to help your cat accept travel as best as possible. Its a better strategy than trying to capture and thrust your struggling, furious kitty into a carrier or crate when a trip is necessary!
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Use These Steps To Reduce Travel Stress
As well as helping your kitty become used to being in its travel carrier and to being in the car, prepare for other travel difficulties and emergencies:
What Are Some Of The Common Causes Of Anxiety In Cats
A number of different things can trigger anxiety:
Changes in your cats environment
Illness or physical pain
Improper socialization during kittenhood
Its important to determine the precise cause of your cats anxiety, so you can remove the stressor from their environment or mitigate its effects as much as possible. Think back to any recent changes that have occurred in your home that may be to blame. You should also pay close attention to your cats behavior throughout the day and note when and where they display the most symptoms of anxiety. Taking video footage of their behaviors and keeping a log of their activities may help you and your veterinarian to pinpoint the cause.
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Identify The Cause Or Triggers Of Your Cats Anxiety
Cat personalities can be incredibly diverse, and so are the causes of their anxiety. The rumbling noise of an unbalanced washing machine may cause one cat to run away in fear and leave another completely unfazed. Anxiety is defined as the anticipation of a threat or danger real or not .
- Lack of socialization at a young age
- Animals outside the home
Is It Ok To Leave A Cat Alone For 3 Days
No matter how independent your cat is, we do not recommend leaving your cat alone without daily visits from a friend or a professional cat-sitter for more than two or three days. Today, there are many options to care for your cat while you are away. Keep in mind that, cats tend to be independent, territorial animals.
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How Do Vets Diagnose Cat Anxiety
Sadly, there is no specific test to diagnose cat anxiety. When presented with a potentially anxious cat, the vet will perform a full physical examination. After the exam, the vet orders additional tests .
This helps the vet rule out underlying causes. For example, accidents outside the litterbox can be due to a urinary tract infection. Excessive vocalization can be caused by thyroid gland issues and excessive grooming can be a sign of atopic dermatitis.
Once the veterinarian determines there is no medical issue, they will likely refer the anxious cat to a veterinary behaviorist. Based on what the behaviorist says, the pet owner will get back to the vet to establish the right treatment plan.
Heres What You Need To Know
If your cat suffers from anxiety, you probably want to know what your options are to help her feel better.
Some cats might need a little extra push to help them be their best, and thats where cat anxiety medications come in.The Dodo reached out to Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian from Safe Hounds Pet Insurance, to find out more about the different kinds of anxiety meds for cats.
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Signs Ofanxiety In Cats
If you suspect that your cat is suffering from any type ofanxiety, these are some of the symptoms of cat anxiety to watch out for:
· Aggressive behaviorSome cats tend to get aggressive when anxious, scared, or overwhelmed.Aggressive behavior can cause damage to property or harm to people.
· Vocalization Cats suffering from anxiety tend to meow more than usual. The vocalizationwould typically sound distressed, as if asking for attention or help.
· Over-grooming Noticeyour cat grooming himself a little more than usual? Anxious cats tend toover-groom, which could actually lead to hair loss, sores, and lesions.
· Litter box accidentsIf your cat suddenly stops using his litter box and has accidents inforbidden parts of the house, this could be a sign that he has anxiety.However, this may also indicate other health problems such as urinary tractinfection.
· Trembling Anxiety incats may also manifest in other physical symptoms like trembling.
· Tailing Yourcat wont let you out of sight? Catslove being near their owners for several reasons. Its possible your cat isfeeling anxious and is trying to be near you for comfort.
· Withdrawal Dontsee your cat anywhere? Your cat wont come to you even if its time for hismeal? Your cat could be hiding because of anxiety.
· Pacing Catslove to sleep, sometimes for up to 16 hours a day.If they cant stay still, this could be a sign that your cat is suffering fromanxiety.
Common Types Of Anxiety Medication For Cats
Depending on the severity of your cats anxiety, you and your vet may consider various types of medication. Learn more about some of the most common anxiety medications to get a feel for what might work best for your feline friend. Keep in mind that some of the options on this list are serotonin reuptake inhibitor depressants, which are also used to treat anxiety in dogs. And, you may notice that many of these medications are considered off-label which means that the FDA hasnt necessarily approved them for use on pets. However, this doesnt mean that theyre unsafe your vet will advise you on the best medication.
My most commonly used meds are gabapentin prior to vet visits and for travel, and fluoxetine for longer-term use, especially with marking and inter-cat aggression. The rest are off-label and we rarely use them in cats.
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Provide Positive Alternative Behaviors Through Enrichment
Cats have instinctual needs that, when met properly, can dramatically impact their quality of life and state of mind. Giving them opportunities for play, hunting behaviors, mental stimulation, and of course, a sense of safety and security is a surefire way to alleviate anxiety. Try social enrichment activities such as:
- Interactive play
- Cognitive enrichment through food puzzles and training sessions
Stick To A Routineand Clean The Litter Box More Often
An upheaval in your routine can result in separation anxiety in your cat. Give your cat food and water at the same time every day, and clean the litter box daily. Thats right, a common source of cat anxiety is a dirty litter box! Cats are such fastidious creatures that they dont want to step into a dirty litter box too oftenleading to urinating and defecating outside of the litter box, or potentially life-threatening lower urinary diseases. Make sure you scoop daily and follow the n+1 rule: If you have 1 cat, you need n+1 litter boxes . If you have 3 cats, you need 3+1 litter boxes . Or, skip the scooping altogether and get an automatic, self-cleaning Litter-Robot, which always provides a clean bed of littergreat for territorial cats!
Of course, we cant always avoid changes in schedule, so we recommend trying to ease your cat into a new routine whenever possible.
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