Set Up Your Surroundings
1. Create safe hiding spaces for your cat by using their basket or a couple of boxes that they can retreat to when stressed. Your cat is likely to prefer somewhere higher up the darker and cosier the spot, the safer they will feel.
2. Let them interact with you on their own terms. Cats need to feel in control of their surroundings, so take your cues from your pet and avoid stroking or playing with them if you notice any of the body language signals mentioned above.
3. Installing a cat flap can also be a great way to ensure your cat feels more in control, as they will be able to come and go as they need to. You could opt for a high-tech version that recognises your pet’s microchip or a lockable one if you’d prefer to keep your pet indoors at night.
Inga says: Remember, each pet is different and many factors can come into play when handling a stressed cat. It’s most important that you try to keep calm, and then approach your pet according to their needs and level of stress.
If your cat’s anxious behaviour persists even when they are away from stressful situations, consider asking your vet to refer you to a qualified animal behaviourist who will be able to help you come up with long-lasting solutions.
Do you have any practical tips for helping cats with anxiety issues? Tell us on social media using the tag #PethoodStories.
Plan Enough Exercise And Engagement For Your Cat
Its also essential to keep your cat engaged, exercised and stimulated every day. If youre in a small space, consider purchasing a cat tree to help expand your cats play space or planning enrichment activities they can enjoy.
Your vet might also recommend a specific combination of behavioral changes, environmental tweaks and calming aids like natural pheromone sprays to try for your cat in particular.
Sharing The Pet Therapy Benefits
Kennedy wasted no time to get Carolina registered as a therapy cat. Pet therapy benefits all age groups, but in Kennedy’s case, it’s especially important during the stressful college years. Because she knows firsthand how much Carolina calms her own anxieties, Kennedy wants to share Carolina’s gift with others. While Kennedy has no immediate plans for bringing Carolina into the community as a therapy cat, she does welcome friends to relax with Carolina. “I invite people over when they are stressed to see the kitten. She is just this cute ball of energy, and it usually lifts people’s spirits! I haven’t thought about taking her out yet since she is still quite little.” Maybe in the future, Kennedy can bring her to a nursing home or children’s hospital to lift other people’s spirits, too.
Adopting a cat was a strategic decision for Kennedy. A person with anxiety may feel calmer by focusing on the needs of something or someone else, and a pet provides a good distraction. However, sometimes too much responsibility can be anxiety-creating in itself. Kennedy chose to get a cat, versus a therapy dog partly because of the level of responsibility needed. She says, “Having a therapy cat is much easier than a therapy dog because cats are pretty self-reliant, and I don’t have to worry about her very much when I go to classes or go out for the night.”
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How Do Vets Determine The Cause Of Cat Anxiety
Your veterinarian will first want to rule out other conditions that might be contributing to your cat’s behavior, such as pain or thyroid disease.
This consists of a thorough physical exam, blood tests, and urine tests. Additional tests may be recommended depending on your cats results.
A thorough history is an essential part of establishing a diagnosis, and any videos you have of the behavior are also helpful. These will provide clues to the stimuli and situations that cause your cat to be anxious, if there is no medical cause found.
Valerian Chamomile And Other Calming Herbs
Many herbs that are popular stress relievers for pet parents are gaining popularity for pets themselves. Before you make that leap, though, talk to your veterinarian about whether the product youre considering is safe.
In some cases, the oil form of herbs can be toxicwhich means essential oils and raw plants are definitely out. Teas and tinctures can also be problematic because the active compounds can be too concentrated. What seems just right for you may be way too much for your felines liver to handle. Its just better to be safe than sorry.
Most of all, be patient with your cat as you try these different options. The last thing you want to do is cause your feline friend even more stress by getting angry and frustrated. Stay open and positive, and youll find the anxiety solution that works for your cat.
This 7 Natural Ways to Ease Cat Anxiety article has been reviewed and approved by Veterinarian Emily Wilkinson, DVM, and was co-written with Emily Parker, who runs the all-things-cats website, Catological.com. Parkers mission is to help cat parents love their kitties better. Shes had lots of practice walking the talk, as she spends a lot of her time loving and caring for her rescue kitties, Gus and Louis . She likes to explore her city to find new coffee shops and always hopes to run into an outdoor kitty or two.
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When I Choose A Kitten How Do I Know That It Wont Be A Nervous Adult
It is impossible to absolutely guarantee how your kitten will develop but you can limit the risk if you choose wisely. Make enquiries before you visit any homes that advertise kittens for sale, even pedigree cat breeders, to establish the steps that are being taken to provide the appropriate socialisation and exposure to normal domestic life from an early age.
Some homing organisations look for homes for feral kittens which havent had contact with people in those early weeks. It will probably, therefore, behave like a wild animal and handling or confinement will cause acute fear. Although some people persevere with feral kittens, it requires a great deal of time and patience to get them to respond and this lack of early experience is usually very difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to get over. Hence, knowing a kittens background can make a difference in determining whether you can help it or not. See our information on choosing a kitten.
Remove Litter Boxes From Confined Areas
Ensure your cats litter boxes are placed appropriately. They should not be placed in a dead-end or corner where your cat could feel trapped there should be multiple access and entry points for them to feel comfortable. You should also have several litter boxes in multi-cat households. A good rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than the number of cats you have, and if you have a multi-level home, to have a litter box on each level.
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Can Cbd Oil Reduce A Cats Anxiety
CBD products for pets have gained popularity in recent years, and many dog owners have seen benefits when using them to treat anxiety in dogs.
However, while there are many different CBD products on the market for cats, its important to note that there have been very few scientific studies examining the safety of CBD in cats. There is also no official regulation, as the Food and Drug Administration has not officially approved CBD products for therapeutic use in cats.
Cats are a sensitive species, and often have difficulty processing drugs that are safe in humans and dogs. Therefore, at Small Door, we currently do not recommend CBD for cats, and will not do so until there are more studies on its safety.
Provide Hiding Spots And High Escapes
Make sure your cat never feels trapped, and that they have plenty of hiding places. This is particularly important if the cause of your cat’s anxiety is children or other pets.
Try to provide different levels. Sometimes cats feel safest when they are up high and can survey their surroundings. Cat Furniture is an easy way to achieve this. Cat trees often provide a variety levels as well as bonus scratching surfaces.
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Problems And Proofing Behaviors
Cats may not immediately adjust to any changes you make, so be patient. If you have eliminated potential health concerns, do your best to make your cat’s environment as calm and inviting as possible. If one thing doesn’t seem to be working, add another one of the suggestions and see how the cat reacts to the combination.
At the same time, remember that change can stress a cat. Try not to make too many changes all at once. Likewise, if your household has experienced a change recentlymoving to a new home, a new or loss of a family member, or even rearranging the furnituredo your best to provide your cat with familiar things. A favorite toy or old scratching post can bring a good deal of comfort to your cat.
While waiting for your cat to come around, try to maintain a calm, stress-free home as much as possible. You don’t need to walk on eggshells for fear of disturbing the cat, however, and they should get used to your “normal” home. With time, many anxious cats settle in and find comfort.
Other Signs Of A Stressed Cat
You may notice your cat sits differently, their facial expression changes or they exhibit strange behaviours.
- Often crouching and looking tense indoors
- Ears rotate backwards frequently or flatten downwards
- Wide open eyes with very dilated pupils which makes their eyes look black
- Staring at the floor with a fixed, glazed expression
- Rapid frequent grooming that usually lasts around five seconds, starting and stopping quite suddenly
- Frequent head shaking
- Rippling, twitching skin on their back
- Exaggerated swallowing and quick flicks of their tongue onto their nose
One of the best ways to protect your cat against possible stress is to try to anticipate the sorts of things that might cause them stress in the first place . Once you have identified possible sources of stress, you can then manage the situation or environment in a way that helps reduce the chances of your cat suffering.
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How To Calm Down A Cat
In general, Calder says its best to give cats plenty of space and provide ample hiding spots and vertical territory where they can retreat, relax, and calm down when theyre anxious or scared.
Jennifer Van de Kiefta certified feline training and behavior specialist who runs the consulting company Cat Advocate LLCalso notes that when it comes to cats and stress, its so much easier to prevent fear than it is to treat it.
That means pet parents should not only have foresight into what could frazzle their cat, but also work on advance training and familiarization for situations you know will arise in the futurelike a trip to the veterinarian.
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.
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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.
Cat Calming Products To Help Ease Cat Anxiety
Humans are not the only ones that deal with anxiety issuescats can suffer from anxiety, too. As a pet owner, keeping your cats anxiety under control is important for establishing and maintaining a positive pet and human relationship.
There are many reasons a cat may experience anxiety, but there are also many calming products that pet owners can try to help manage their cats anxiety.
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Signs Of Stress In Cats
Common signs of stress observed in cats include urinary issues such as cystitis or urine spraying, aggression, excessive vocalising, hiding, destructive behaviours such as inappropriate scratching, over-grooming and hair loss, humping, and reduced appetite.
Stress is often the underlying root cause of issues such as skin infections, urinary disease, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
While Every Cat Has A Different Personality The General Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Felines Are:
As veterinarians and pet owners, we know that some of these things can be frustrating, particularly the elimination outside the litter box. Many cat owners have gotten the gift of defecation on the bed, in a shoe, or on an item of clothing. Its important to remember that this isnt necessarily a sign of spiteful behavior but can often mean that your cat is looking to mix their scent with yours. Cats believe they are also helping you find your way home. Instincts run deep!
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What Else Should I Do
If you are concerned about your cats quality of life then speak to your vet. Your cat may also benefit from the use of synthetic pheromones to reinforce a message of safety and familiarity in the home. It may even be worthwhile to seek advice from a behaviour specialist who would be able to provide you with strategies to manage your cats anxiety in the most appropriate way.
How To Calm A Cat In The Car
Whether its a quick trip to the vet or a long-distance vacation, car rides can be stressful for cats.
Addressing that stress begins with advance training, Van de Kieft says. She recommends starting with the cat carrier. Many people stow carriers in their basement or closets, only bringing them out for car tripsmost often to the veterinarians office. As a result, your cat knows that when the carrier comes out, something bad is going to happen, she says.
Van de Kieft says the best thing you can do is leave your carrier out all the time. Make it a safe, secure spot where your cat can hang out whenever he chooses. Stock it with treats, fresh bedding, catnip, food and toys. This way, their carrier can become a place of safety, Van de Kieft says. When you travel, its like taking a piece of their home with them.
To further those happy carrier feelings, Van de Kieft recommends taking a short walk with your cat in his carrier around the house, then in the hallway, then outside. You can reinforce with treats if youd like.
Next up: a short drive in the car in which nothing bad happens and the treats are plentiful.
When its time for an actual drive somewhere, she suggests bringing along cat snacks and making sure there is good airflow in the car. It can also help to bring something soaked in your cats scent, like a towel youve left out for her to sleep on in advance.
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So Your Cat Is Anxious Now What
If anxiety is the underlying cause of your cat’s strange behavior, there are quite a few ways to reassure kitty. Cats generally don’t like change, so one way to keep kitty calm is to maintain a consistent home life, which means not changing the furniture around often and offering your cats their own space. Cats are creatures of habit, so they dont always like change, especially as they get older. Therefore, any big change in their life such as boarding, the adoption of a new pet, moving to a new home, or even a pet owner working outside the home more often could potentially cause stress or anxiety, says Austin.
However, each cat is different, which is why it’s important to work on a treatment plan with your vet. If anxiety is the underlying cause of your cat’s strange behavior, there are quite a few ways to reassure kitty. “If your veterinarian diagnoses a simple fear, anxiety, or phobia, a prescribed medication may be all that is needed,” PetMD explained. “But your doctor will most likely make recommendations based on your individual cat, what the fear trigger is, and how you can alleviate your cat’s fears and anxieties through behavioral conditioning.”
Additonal reporting by Siena Gagliano.
How To Help A Cat With Anxiety
Its important to understand that cat anxiety is rarely solved with just a single action. To truly help your cat and see lasting results, youll want to approach the problem from a few different angles simultaneously. You can apply this approach to almost any behavior concern:
Lets look at how you can put these steps into practice.
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