Those Anxious Felines: Reducing Stress in Your Cat
Cats can be anxious and nervous pets. Separation or changes to daily routines and family life can put a lot of stress on your cat, and this stress can manifest in some destructive, annoying behaviors. Eliminating the cause of the stress and helping your cat handle the situation are the keys to relieving their anxiety. We’ve got some veterinarian approved tips for alleviating your cat’s anxiety (and, hopefully, your own).
What is cat anxiety?
Like humans, cats can become stressed and anxious, often due to a psychological struggle. Similar to human anxiety, without any intervention for anxiety, your cat’s immune system can become compromised, he or she may become depressed or develop “bad-kitty” behavioral problems.
The most common situations that can cause your cat to become anxious include separation from you or the addition of a new family member into the household such as a child, pet or a new partner/spouse.
What are the symptoms of cat anxiety?
Cats show signs of anxiety in a number of ways.
Potential signs of anxiety to observe in your cat may include the following:
- Health changes
- Changes in their appetite or weight
- Excessive vocalizing (meowing or crying at inappropriate times of the night or day)
- Urinating outside of their litter box
- New compulsive behaviors (i.e. excessive grooming)
- New destructive behaviors (i.e. furniture scratching)
If you notice your cat exhibiting these behaviors, consider if any recent changes could be contributing to stress and anxiety.
Why do cats get anxiety?
Cats experience anxiety because of psychological, physical and environmental stressors. Without your intervention, their stress can have detrimental affects on your home, your family, and your cat’s overall health. Determining the root cause of your cat’s anxiety can be challenging, so begin by evaluating their environment and daily life. Some things to consider:
- In your household has there been a loss or addition of family member or pet?
- Has there been recent separation from a family member?
- Recently, have they had minimal play or exercise? Is your cat experiencing boredom?
- Are there any new causes of fear that could have sparked their anxiety, such as loud noises, other pets or humans?
- How have they been eating? Might your cat be having less-than-adequate nutrition?
- Is your cat otherwise healthy or are they experiencing any pain or discomfort?
How can I make my cat less anxious?
Focus your efforts on minimizing the stress and anxiety in your cat’s life. Consider their entertainment and adding enriching activities. We’ve got plenty of free cat enrichment ideas! Exercise your cat with lots of playtime and give your cat more emotional support with cuddling and petting. Providing high-quality, nutritious cat food, fresh water, and a comfortable bed for your cat gives them security in a time of stress.
Like humans, some cats are naturally prone to stress and some may have serious struggles with past traumas. These cats may need the assistance of a veterinarian with training in behavioral issues and/or anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
Is there cat anxiety medication?
If your cat is showing one or more signs of stress and anxiety, see your veterinarian to rule out any medical problems. If your cat is physically healthy, they will help you with ways to treat the stress specifically. The doctor may diagnose the particular type of disorder that your cat suffers from and come up with a behavior-modification plan best suited for your cat. In some cases, the vet may prescribe pet medications:
- Amitriptyline, Clomicalm (clomipramine), or fluoxetine is used to increase the effectiveness of behavior modification that your vet prescribes.
- If a cat’s anxiety is limited to particular events (like travel by car or fireworks displays), a short term sedative such as Alprazolam, prescribed by your vet, should be given a few hours before the next event.
Cat Friendly Practices๏ Can Help Reduce Stress
A trip to the veterinarian can be stressful for both you and your cat, including the just getting them into the pet carrier for the car ride to the the pet hospital. Cat Friendly Practices try to alleviate some of that burden.
Cat Friendly Practices are veterinary hospitals like ZippiVet that consistently take extra steps to care for cats’ unique needs, having implemented feline-friendly standards. We understand the needs of cats, seek to decrease their stress and provide a more calming environment. Our veterinary staff have also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat. We make it easy to schedule an appointment and provide a calm visit to reduce stress in you and your cat.