When Cats Call: Separation Anxiety in Cats
The idea that all cats are aloof and independent is merely that – just an idea. As cat owners know, the feline personality is as varied as the markings on their fur coats, and many cats are extremely attached to their owners, sometimes a little too attached.
Most people are familiar with the idea of separation anxiety in dogs, but research suggests that cats can also feel significant levels of stress and anxiety when left alone for long periods.
The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center care deeply for all of our feline patients, and we want you to know that you aren’t alone! With patience, persistence, and a lot of love, separation anxiety in cats can be overcome.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Cats
Although we aren’t sure what causes separation anxiety in cats, it’s probably a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Kittens who were weaned too early or not socialized properly, for example, may be more to separation anxiety.
Signs your cat may be experiencing separation anxiety include:
- Obvious distress when you’re getting ready to leave the home (getting keys, putting on jacket, etc.)
- Overly clingy behavior when you’re home, such as following you from room to room, interrupting work, or even aggression towards guests or other family members.
- Urinating and defecating outside the litter box.
- Excessive self grooming, sometimes to the point of hair loss.
- Vomiting only in your presence.
- Loss of appetite, or eating too fast.
Helping Kitty Cope
Combating separation anxiety in cats usually takes a combination of behavior modification (yours) and changes to the environment (theirs).
Tone it down – It may seem like paying extra attention to your cat when you’re home will make them feel more secure, but being focused on them 100% of the time can actually worsen the problem. Instead, give your cat some space before you leave and after you arrive home.
Enrich their environment – Although we always recommend keeping cats indoors for their safety and health, life inside four walls can get boring and can lead to behavior problems. Be sure to provide your cat with a cat tree and other vertical resting places (bonus points if they have a comfortable place to watch a bird feeder outside the window). Engage them in play every day, and rotate toys and activities to keep things interesting.
Try a diffuser – A synthetic cat pheromone diffuser, such as Feliway, can help to reduce stress and anxiety and keep Kitty calmer when you’re away.
Seek help – Don’t be afraid to ask your trusted family veterinarian for help. Your cat may be experiencing an underlying medical condition that’s contributing to the behavior problems, or they may benefit from an anti-anxiety medication.
Don’t hesitate to contact our staff for more information. We are here for you!