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Many people view cats as aloof creatures, but not their pet parents. Cats can be loving, funny, a little quirky, and pretty laid-back. But changes in their home environment, such as a move or the addition of a new family member, can affect them. Suddenly, an otherwise calm cat is acting not quite like themself.
Although many consider cats solitary creatures, cats can experience separation anxiety. While it typically occurs in cats having strong bonds with their humans, it can affect any of them. A pet parent may notice their cat practically attached to them at all times.
In such cases, separation anxiety training for cats can be helpful. First, let’s take a look at some signs of cat anxiety.
Several signs point toward separation anxiety in cats:
Aggression: A cat may bite or lash out.
Vocalization: Although some cats are naturally chattier, an anxious cat may meow more than usual, howl, or hiss.
Destructive habits: A pet parent might notice their cat clawing the sofa, ruining the curtains, or making messes around the house.
Escape attempts: A cat may start trying to dart through the door every time someone opens it.
Affection and begging for attention: A cat with separation anxiety may seek more comfort from the person they love most, such as snuggling up more or batting their parent’s arm for pets.
Cats can develop separation anxiety for several reasons:
Early weaning or rehoming at an early age
Addition of a new family member (another cat, a dog, or a baby)
Lack of mental and physical stimulation (the cat is bored)
Pet parents spending too much time with the cat, providing reassurances
In addition, some breeds of cats tend to be more dependent on their humans than others. Burmese and Siamese cats are particularly prone to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety can cause a lot of mental stress for cats, affecting their overall quality of life. Fortunately, with some separation anxiety training for cats, pet parents can help their cats feel safer and more comfortable in their environment.
Pet parents can take steps to help their cat with separation anxiety.
In some cases, simple adjustments in the home can go a long way in making a cat feel safer and more secure, helping reduce anxiety. For instance, a cat tower can help a them get up and away from a dog or small children, providing a hiding place that also works as a watchtower. Other adjustments include:
Adding scratching posts, mats, or pads to provide stress relief for cats (giving them something to scratch instead of furniture or other belongings)
Providing an assortment of toys that encourage a cat’s natural hunting instincts
Providing puzzle toys (with food hidden inside) for mental stimulation
Turning the radio or television on before pet parents leave for the day
For some cats, a safe and comfortable environment might not be quite enough to reduce stress. In such cases, training and supplementation may offer ways to help a cat with anxiety. Pet parents may find success in environmental enrichment and supplementing with a cat anxiety medication over the counter such as:
Cat calming chews
Herbal sprays containing pheromones
In more severe cases, pet parents may need to consult a vet to get a prescription anxiety medication to aid in relieving stress for cats. Vets typically recommend this particular solution as a last resort, when changing the environment and offering supplements to help a cat with anxiety don’t work. Even then, most vets recommend anti-anxiety medication only for short-term use and in conjunction with the above recommendations.
Separation anxiety in cats can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. It affects the overall health and wellbeing of a cat and, in turn, their pet parents. Some pet parents might feel that rehoming is the best option, but, fortunately, that’s not always the case. Pet parents should consider environmental changes and supplementation to provide stress relief for cats.
In addition, pet parents should also work with their primary vet for professional cat advice. In some cases, a cat behavior specialist can also be beneficial for reducing separation anxiety. Together, pet parents and professionals can help a cat feel safer and more comfortable in their own home.
For pet parents looking for more cat separation anxiety advice from veterinarians and cat behavior specialists, Fuzzy can help. Visit Fuzzy and sign up to become a member today.