Just like humans, our feline friends can get a little anxious too. Anxiety can show up in kitties in several ways, caused by quite a few things. If left untreated, anxiety can become a severe problem for your cat and their overall health. Therefore, if you suspect your fur baby may be feeling a tad bit anxious, it’s vital to uncover the reason before you can seek the treatment.
Here we’ll explain what exactly causes cat anxiety and what the symptoms are. We will also share our top 7 tips on what you can do to ease your kitties worries and promote relaxation.
Signs that your cat is anxious
Cats can exhibit anxiety in many different ways. Here are some of the most common tell-tale signs that your cat may be feeling anxious.
- Newly developed destructive behavior such as scratching furniture
- Compulsive behavior such as excessive grooming
- Increased vocalization (excessive meowing)
- Following you around the home
- Not using the litter box/spraying around the house
- A change in their mood and behavior such as aggression or hiding
- A change in their appetite or weight
- Increased lethargic behaviors (Normal sleeping patterns excluded)
- Increased heart rate, panting, and trembling
- Consistently dilated pupils
What causes cat anxiety?
Cats are not creatures of adaptation, they’re creatures of habit and prefer stability and routine. While seemingly innocent to us as their owners, something out of the norm can feel quite traumatic to your kitty. Here is an in-depth breakdown of what exactly could be causing your cat’s anxiety.
A traumatic experience
A traumatic experience could be anything from a particularly rough vet visit to a fight with another cat or even abuse from a previous caretaker. Cats with a history of abuse or neglect have the highest probability of experiencing anxiety throughout their lives.
Changes in the home environment
Events such as moving to a new house, the birth of a baby, or bringing a new pet into the household can induce a feeling of anxiety in cats. But it doesn’t have to be something as significant as this. Even small changes can trigger stress in certain felines.
Kittens can experience separation anxiety if taken away from their mother too early. This sort of early trauma can manifest in a severe dependency upon the company of their caretakers.
Cat anxiety can crop up if you go on holiday or even start a new job where you are out of the house more than usual. Separation anxiety is most common in cats that have been abandoned by previous owners or had to be rehomed at some point.
Illness or physical pain
A painful physical condition can trigger anxiety or heighten worries and fears that may already be present. A prime example of this is if the nervous system is affected, by something such as prolonged exposure to toxins. Cat anxiety may also come down to normal aging, particularly if your senior cat experiences memory problems, medically known as feline cognitive dysfunction.
7 way you can help your anxious cat
1. Use cat calming products
If your cat is excessively meowing, acting aggressively, or being destructive, a cat calming product may help to promote relaxation. There is a range of cat calming products such as collars, diffusers, and sprays that can help alleviate stress.
They mimic cat pheromones (chemical messengers produced
by mother cats during lactation), which can soothe and comfort your anxious kitty.
2. Increase play and stimulation
If your cat suffers from separation anxiety, creating a more entertaining and dynamic environment can help keep them mentally stimulated while you’re out.
Offering your cat the appropriate amount of toys or designated spaces to play is an excellent way to break the bond of overattachment and keep them engaged with their environment.
3. Improve litter hygiene
Cats like a clean space to do their business. If that’s not possible, they may stop using the litter box altogether, which could trigger anxiety and lead to sanitary problems. If your kitty is not using their litter tray, making sure to scoop more frequently could do the trick.
Many cat owners have upgraded their traditional litter tray to an automatic litter box. These high-tech units automatically self-clean after each use, improving the overall hygiene of the litter bed, and making sure your kitty always has a clean space to use the bathroom.
However, many self-cleaning litter boxes tend to operate aggressively and can worsen your cat’s anxiety. To help your kitty with its bathroom fear, look for an automatic litter box using a slow non-traditional horizontal raking system like the ChillX AutoEgg or the ScoopFree by PetSafe.
4. Create a safe, quiet environment
When introducing a new person or animal to the home, keep your cat in a separate room or part of the home away from the latest addition for a few days.
A quiet, enclosed space with a comfy cat bed can help settle your kitty’s nerves as they adapt and adjust for the newest addition. You should then introduce them gradually, socializing them for short and controlled periods, then build it up as your kitty gets more used to its new best friend!
The same goes for moving into a new home. Isolate them in one room first. This allows them to get comfortable with one small area and develop the confidence to explore the rest of the house when they’re ready.
5. Avoid unnecessary changes in their routine
As cats are creatures of comfort, it’s best not to change their routine unless necessary. This means feeding them at the same time each day is vital. If you do need to change their routine, try to ease them into it gradually and always use positive reinforcement throughout the process.
6. Take a trip to the vet
If none of the above makes a difference, it may be time to visit your vet. Because cat anxiety can sometimes mask other illnesses, a vet check-up will help rule out any health issues. If your vet feels the need, they may prescribe anti-anxiety medication when appropriate. Additionally, if behavioral episodes are severe or persistent, your vet may refer you to a veterinary behaviorist for further evaluation.
7. Do NOT punish or scold
Lastly, aggression and destructive behavior can be frustrating for us to navigate, but you should never resort to punishing or hurting your kitty.
Our cats do not associate punishment with their behavior so trying to teach your cat a lesson is more likely to heighten their anxiety and confuse them. It can also be damaging in keeping the bond of trust you have with your cat.
Our cats’ mental well-being is just as important as their physical health. Creating a clean, quiet, and safe environment can keep your fur baby feeling calm and protected at all times.
This article is written by Gemma Clarke & Sponsored by ChillX.co