We’ve all seen the memes during this COVID-19 pandemic about dogs who have had enough of being walked. But what about cats? While dogs tend to be goofy and friendly, cats are known to be a bit more discerning about their company. However, it’s important to remember that cats have different personalities and many of them can experience separation anxiety, especially those who were orphaned. As many people are returning to work, or preparing to do so, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of separation anxiety in cats.
What Are the Signs My Cat May Be Experiencing Separation Anxiety?
Every cat has a unique personality, but there are general signs that indicate your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety:
- Excessive meowing, crying, or moaning
- Eating too fast or not eating at all
- Excessive self-grooming
- Elimination outside the litter box
- Destructive behavior
- Unusual excitement upon your return home
- Vomiting food or hairballs
- Attempts to escape
As veterinarians and pet owners, we understand that some of these behaviors can be frustrating, particularly when it comes to elimination outside the litter box. Many cat owners have received the “gift” of finding feces in unexpected places. However, it’s important to know that this isn’t necessarily a sign of spiteful behavior. Cats often mix their scent with yours as a way to help you find your way back home. Instincts run deep!
What Can I Do if My Cat Shows Signs of Separation Anxiety?
Fortunately, there are steps you can take and products you can buy to alleviate the anxiety your cat may experience when you’re away from home:
Leave the Radio or TV On
Turn on a station that is often playing when you’re at home. The familiar sounds can provide comfort and companionship to your cat.
Keep Arrivals and Departures Low Key
Avoid making a fuss when leaving or arriving home. Loud announcements like “Mommy is leaving!” can heighten your cat’s anxiety.
Create a Safe Space
Designate a nook, safe haven, or refuge for your cat where they can feel secure and relaxed when you’re not around.
Provide Plenty of Toys and Mental Stimulation
Ensure your cat has plenty of toys and puzzles to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated during your absence.
Hide Food in Interactive Toys
Tap into your cat’s prey instincts by hiding food in toys that require them to work for their meal. This can keep them engaged and entertained.
Start with Shorter Absences
Gradually increase the duration of your time away from home. Begin with shorter absences to help your cat adjust to being alone.
Give Them a View
Offer your cat a perch or a “catio” where they can observe their favorite views. Being able to see the outside world can provide entertainment and stimulation.
Consider Calming Scents
Room diffusers or pheromones can emit calming scents that help soothe your cat’s anxiety. However, always check with your vet before using any such products to ensure their safety.
Remove Departure Cues
Minimize your cat’s anxiety by removing departure cues, such as grabbing your keys, a few minutes before leaving. This can help prevent your cat from associating these cues with your absence.
Shower Them with Love and Playtime
When you return home, make sure to spend quality time with your cat. Provide plenty of cuddles, playtime, and attention to reassure them and strengthen your bond.
Seek Professional Help if Needed
If your cat’s separation anxiety persists or worsens, consider having a professional sitter come for play sessions during your absence. In severe cases, medication may be an option, but it should always be a last resort and prescribed by a veterinarian.
It’s important to emphasize the significance of consulting with your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior. Early detection and treatment of underlying health issues are essential for your cat’s well-being.
If you have any questions or need further guidance on how to deal with anxiety in your cat, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Katten TrimSalon. We’re here to help you and your feline friend live happier, stress-free lives.
For more information, visit Katten TrimSalon.