How To Ease Your Cat Into A New Routine
If you have the luxury of anticipating an upheaval in your schedule, give this some forethought: Easing your cat into a new routine is the most surefire way of preventing an extreme reaction to change .
For instance, if you know you will be returning to work soon, you can begin to leave your cat for extended periods of time a week or two beforehand. Begin by leaving the house for a few hours, a few days a week. Place toys and treats around the house for your cat to discover. If you use Feliway, a natural calming pheromone, spray some just before you go.
Eventually you can transition to leaving for an entire day. And here is where youll want to firmly establish another routine: Take time to bond with your cat every day. This one-on-one time is enjoyable and important for your kitty, as it will give him something to expect and look forward to. Special attention can be paid in a variety of ways, whether its grooming, chatting, playing, or simply snuggling.
Helping Your Pet With Separation
At your pets wellness examination, your veterinarian will have some suggestions for treating separation anxiety, which may include medications. At home, there are also key changes you can make to help your cat when you are away.
How To Spot It: What Does Separation Anxiety Look Like In Cats
Cats have unique personalities and what separation anxiety looks like for each individual cat can be different. Likewise, the symptoms of separation anxiety in cats have yet to be fully defined.
However, some common signs of separation anxiety in cats include:
Clingy, possessive or aggressive behavior. This often becomes obvious when your cats favorite person, or the person who triggers their separation anxiety, is preparing to leave or recently returns. They might hide, meow repeatedly, follow the person around, or keep walking back and forth between the person and the doorway, for example, says Bloom. Some cats even attack their human when their human is near the door and about to leave!
Excessive grooming. You might notice bald patches beginning to show on your cats legs, stomach or elsewhere.
House soiling. No, this is not your cat getting back at you or exacting revenge. While we do not understand house soiling in cats perfectly, house soiling in cats with separation anxiety may be a way of self-soothingtheir own scent is thought to make them feel more comfortable, says Bloom. Some also theorize that mixing their scent with yours helps cats feel closer to you. Another possibility is that the cat is leaving his scent around to make it easier for you to find himafter all, your scent is one thing your cat can follow to find you!
Vomiting. Either stress alone or stress-related behaviors like over-grooming can cause a cat to vomit more frequently.
Don’t Miss: Is Depression And Anxiety A Mental Illness
Why Do Some Cats Suffer From Separation Anxiety
Cats are usually solitary and independent animals and for most cat owners, this is an attractive trait. Although cat separation anxiety is much rarer than in dogs, owners should be aware that some cats can experience anxiety when they are home alone. Certain breeds of cat usually the more exotic breeds such as and , as well as house cats may become far more bonded with their owners and therefore are more likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
With the current crisis, your cat may have become very used to having you at home all the time which may increase the likelihood of anxiety when you begin to return to work, or leave the house for longer periods.
Keep Arrivals And Departures Low Key
When you are leaving or arriving home, try not to make a fuss of your cat. Obviously, youll miss them but making it into a big deal can confuse your kitty and make them more anxious for your departure next time!
Try to keep coming and going non-emotional, quiet and short – just a wave or brief acknowledgment is all that is needed. When you return, only greet your cat once they stop seeking attention and only give them some attention when they are calm.
Recommended Reading: What Are The Best Vitamins For Stress And Anxiety
What Is Separation Distress
, or , means the pet experiences a feeling of anxiety or even panic when they are separated from preferred people. The signs most commonly associated with this disorder include vocalizing, salivation, destructive behavior especially at exits like doors and windows, urination or defecation indoors/in unwanted locations, lack of appetite when alone, self-trauma like licking or chewing when alone, and attempted or successful escapes.
In severe cases, pets may even break through fences or windows, chew through walls or doors, and engage in other dangerous behavior when they are feeling panic. Often, the signs of anxiety such as pacing, panting, jumping up on the owner or attention-seeking, avoiding confinement areas, or trying to escape begin when the owner first starts preparing to leave home .
If your pet is showing the signs listed here, tell your veterinary team right away. A doctors diagnosis is needed to confirm separation distress or separation anxiety disorder. The good news is, there is a lot we can do to help prevent separation distress, and to treat it if it occurs.
Boredom: The Cats Enemy
It might not be so much that your cat hates being alone, but they hate being bored. So find things to keep them entertained while youre gone.
Keep the curtains of a window open so they can see outside. Hide small pieces of food around the house that they can hunt. Or buy them a puzzle toy that drops treats while they play with it. This last suggestion gives an added bonus of rewarding them while youre gone, so theyll learn to make positive associations with being alone.
If your cat is just very social, you might consider adopting a second cat to keep them company.
You May Like: How To Know If You Have Stress Or Anxiety
Consider How To Keep Your Kitty Occupied
While your cat may find it uncomfortable when youre not at home, its also likely that theyre feeling stressed due to a lack of stimulation while youre out. Frequent social interaction such as stroking and play sessions are extremely important as they help you bond with your furry friend and build trust. This also helps prevent your kitty from being bored or anxious so these interactions can reduce kitty stress.
If youre out all day then consider if you have a friend, cat sitter or neighbour who can call in and check on your kitty for playtime or to change your kittys toys. You could also consider leaving the radio on, or playing some calming classical music to help your kitty feel less alone.
Make sure that you leave your kitty with plenty of toys to hold their attention – food puzzles with high-value treats inside are a great way to keep your cat occupied for hours as well as helping them to exercise. You could even create a little food hunt for your kitty, hiding small pieces of food around the house, such as on perches, to encourage your cat to be active while youre out.
Do Kittens Outgrow Separation Anxiety
Whether or not a kitten outgrows separation anxiety largely depends on you. Although some kittens are more prone to separation anxiety than others, your behavior determines whether the kitten learns to live with separation or continue feeling anxious when it happens.
With the right course of action, it is likely that your kitten will outgrow separation anxiety. So, its important to read the rest of this article to learn exactly what you ought to do to help your kitten outgrow it.
Don’t Miss: Can A Uti Cause Anxiety
Management Of The Environment
There are quite a few ways you can modify your cats environment to help relieve your cats separation anxiety.
Here are some examples of changes you can make to manage the environment.
Provide Enrichment Activities
There are endless options for enrichment activities to keep your cat busy while you are gone. There are TV shows designed specifically for cats and even cameras that allow you to toss treats to your cat and talk to them when you are not home.
You can also try puzzle feeders, which are toys that your cat has to play with to release the food inside. Giving one to your cat before you start getting ready to leave can keep them busy so they arent worried about what you are doing.
Working for their food is wonderful enrichment for cats.
Ignore Attention-Seeking Behaviors
Try to ignore attention-seeking behaviors whenever possible. Instead, provide attention when your cat is calm and shows signs of independence.
For example, you can praise or toss a small treat to your cat when they are resting in another room or when they stop meowing for attention.
Remain calm when you leave your house and return home. Wait until your cat is calm and quiet to give them attention after you get home.
Giving your cat activities to keep them busy and engaged as you get ready to leave and while you are gone can be very helpful. Some cats also experience a calming effect from pheromone products, such as plug-in diffusers or collars.
Create and Maintain a Consistent Routine
Dont Leave Me Alone: Separation Anxiety In Cats
Separation anxiety in cats occurs when Kitty is separated from the humans with which he has a strong bond. Despite the many memes showing cats desperate for their humans to go back to work and get out of their fur, many cats are going to feel it when we actually do. If your kitty has severe separation anxiety, he may even overreact to a closed door or being out of your sight.
Whether it is back to work, back to school, or a vacation, we have to consider the emotional needs of our cats in our planning.
You May Like: How Can I Fall Asleep With Anxiety
How To Treat Separation Anxiety In Kittens
In the case that your kitten is already experiencing separation anxiety, there are some things you can do to reverse the behavior. Its important to act as quickly as possible as soon as you detect the behavior. Unfortunately, treating separation anxiety can be difficult to cure, especially once the cat has reached adulthood.
- Create a routine if you have not already. Cats are much more predictable creatures than dogs and thrive in routines.
- Buy more toys that offer physical and mental stimulation for your cat.
- Keep the TV or radio on when you leave.
- Do not make a big deal whenever you leave the home or come back to it.
- Create your kitten a safe space that it can go to whenever you leave. Most kittens with separation anxiety prefer high points because it gives them better visual access. You can put a cat bed on a cat tree or on some high shelf that they can get to.
- For severe cases of separation anxiety, you can use some sort of calming supplement. This is a short-term method, but it can keep your kitten calm while you are trying to reverse the behavior. Talk to your vet before selecting any calming supplement to ensure it is healthy for your cat.
If none of the above mentioned tips work, contact a professional feline behaviorist. The behaviorist will be able to assess your home to see if there are any things you can do differently.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Cats
Some factors could predispose a cat to developing separation anxiety, while other causes are environmental:
Being a female cat. Female cats are diagnosed with separation anxiety more often than male cats.
Living strictly indoors. Most separation anxiety cases are seen in cats that live strictly indoors and come from a home with only one adult caregiver.
Not having other pets in the home.
Being orphaned, weaned early, or bottle-raised.
Experiencing a change in routine often prompts separation anxiety or causes it to get worse.
Recommended Reading: How To Calm Body Anxiety
Do Cats Get Separation Anxiety
Yes, cats can get separation anxiety. Dog owners are making a big fuss out of it because canines make more noise and a bigger mess when theyre left alone. But dogs dont own the condition. Felines are very attached to their owners and family members. And they can become lonely and depressed, too.
The issue is, cats arent usually as destructive as dogs, so separation anxiety in cats often goes unnoticed until its severe. Some may think of cats as loners that dont need much interaction, but this is far from the truth. Your kitty needs enough playtime, attention, and a very stimulating environment to be happy and healthy.
Start Off With Small Absences And Build These Up
Its important to prepare your cat for their alone time slowly start with small absences while youre still at home, by leaving the room and coming back – then build this up slowly. Cats are very fond of routine so quick changes can make it much harder for them to adjust. If you have a long holiday or absence planned then try and set aside some time to help your cat adjust as easily as possible, getting them gradually used to alone time.
Recommended Reading: Who To See For Social Anxiety
Signs Your Cat Might Have Separation Anxiety
Cats need their space, yes. That doesnt mean theyre totally cool when left home alone, Kevin McAllister-style. Theres not a ton of research on cat psychology, but one study by Thunderworks, a company actively researching anxiety in animals, found suffer from anxiety, and at least 20 percent of those cats feel extreme separation anxiety. The longer this issue goes untreated, the worse it gets. Heres what to look for if you think your cat might have separation anxiety.
Eliminating outside the litter boxIf your cat is eliminating on your rugs or in your bed , it could mean theyre suffering from separation anxiety. As Dr. Amy Marder, a clinical assistant professor at the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, told Manhattan Cat Specialists, defecating in an owners bed is fairly common in anxious cats. These behaviors can certainly indicate other issues like full litter boxes or aggression, but if you notice it only when youre gone for extended periods of time or it gets worse when you leave, separation anxiety could be the culprit.
VocalizingAs cat owners know, felines produce a range of sounds. Chirping is friendly and playful. Yowling could indicate pain. In terms of separation anxiety, Dr. Sharon L. Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM at animal health company Zoetis, told us any excessive, relentless vocalizing could indicate a behavior problem brought on by your absence.
And when in doubt, give your cat a cardboard box already.