Cat owners should be aware that cats deal with anxiety just like us human and as owners, its our duty to provide cat anxiety treatment to our beloved furbaby.
Believe it or not, all animals also deal with anxiety issues and that also includes relaxed-looking cats.
As pet owners, keeping your cat’s anxiety at a minimum is essential to establish a positive relationship. You should have the instinct to interpret your cat’s behavior to determine if they are having anxiety issues and how we will be able to calm them down.
A cat’s anxiety can manifest in many different ways and unlike other illnesses, is it not as easy to recognize if they are suffering from anxiety. Today, we will find out more about the causes of anxiety in cats and what can be done to help them cope with it.
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What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the anticipation of danger or threat. So even though your cat is not actually in danger, they are just expecting that there is a threat.
Cat anxiety can cause various bodily reactions and changes in your cat’s behavior. Since cats cannot express themselves with words, they will be able to visually show that they are suffering from anxiety through many signs and symptoms.
Most pet parents interpret signs of cat anxiety only as bad behaviors; that’s why it is essential to be observant once your pet starts to show off these signs. The development of anxiety in cats can be triggered by certain events, objects, people, and animals, or changes in their routine and surroundings. The quicker we can identify the trigger of your cat’s anxiety, the quicker the treatment would be applied as well.
10 Signs That Your Cat Have Anxiety
Visually, an anxious cat will be able to show that they are suffering from anxiety through changes in behavior and daily routine.
These are ten signs to look out for if you’re worried that your cat is suffering from anxiety. By knowing and noticing these signs, you will be able to tell if they need to undergo stress-relieving techniques as soon as possible.
1. Your Cat Seems to Always Hide
Regardless of whether your cat is a social pet or prefers to be alone, having human interaction and being petted is still a demand every once in a while.
If you notice that your cat suddenly hides most of the time, to the point where you can’t see and interact with them for a day, they may be exhibiting a symptom of anxiety.
2. Shows Aggressiveness Most of the Time
Cats are naturally sweet and clingy animals. They usually exhibit signs of aggression if they encounter other animals, hungry or when stressed.
If your cat becomes suddenly aggressive without any triggers, it may be because they are anxious. Boredom can result in anxiety to a cat craving attention. They are taking out this frustration by being aggressive and showing that they seek your attention.
3. Meows More Than Usual
When a cat meows at you,.they are trying to tell you something. Usually, they “speak” to you when they are hungry, craving for some playtime, or have seen a strange, new thing.
If they are meowing more repeatedly than usual, they might be telling you that they are scared and anxious. This meow is subtly distinguishable from their normal meow as it often sounds troubled, like a distress call, and that they are in need of your attention.
4. Non-stop Grooming
Cats are one of those animals known to clean themselves by licking their coat. However, if your cat spends most of its day licking itself, it may result in overgrooming which is also a sign of anxiety.
Moreover, over-grooming can cause hair loss which is not good for your cat’s beautiful coat.
5. Your Cat Refuses to Use the Litter Box
As early as kittens, cats should be taught how to use a litter box to maintain a clean home. Once they are familiar with using the litter box, the routine will continue until they are adults.
However, if they suddenly stopped using it and started having an accident in other places in your house, they may be trying to tell you something and maybe having anxiety attacks.
6. Your Cat Shivers
Humans when being startled begin showing symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate and faster breathing. This is also what our cats experienced when being startled.
Cats are not a fan of being startled and if something triggers that, they start to become easily afraid of anything and shivers from anxiety and fear.
7. They Have Developed Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety happens when cats are separated from their pet parent or another close companion pet. If your cat follows you anywhere you go regularly and does not want to let you out of their sight; they may be suffering from anxiety.
8. Your Furbaby's Eating Habits Change
A sudden change in your cat’s eating habits can be a sign of anxiety but remember that it is also a symptom of many other medical problems.
Before jumping to the conclusion that they are suffering from anxiety, you have to rule out other medical problems first, especially gastrointestinal issues. Once ruled out, check other signs from this list to see if they are experiencing anxiety.
9. Your Cat Sleeps Less Than Normal
Cats love to sleep. In fact, most cats sleep 16 hours a day. Cats suffering from anxiety often sleep less and spend more time of the day awake and restless.
Anxiety can trigger the sensors in the brain that could cause your cat to feel stressed, uneased, and nervous for no reason at all.
10. Your Cat Starts to Become Lethargic
Cats with anxiety lose interest in playing and interacting with humans, toys, and other pets. Similar to loss of appetite, keep in mind that other health problems can also cause this symptom. Once everything else is ruled out, then it’s a sign that your cat is experiencing anxiety.
Causes of Anxiety in Cats
Most cats develop anxiety because of reasons that may surprise pet parents. As a habitual animal, changes in their environment and routines, such as moving to a new house, visiting the vet, or having a new pet, can play a big part in cat anxiety. Here are the common causes of anxiety in cats.
1. Being on a Restricted Space
Cats love to wander around your house. Being investigative and curious animals, giving them restrictions in confined, small spaces can cause anxiety.
2. Sudden Change In the Environment
As a pet parent, it is our responsibility to keep our cat’s environment and routine under control and as consistent as possible.
Changes in their environment and necessities such as food, water, and the location of their bed and litter box are unnatural and unnerving that may result in anxiety and stress.
3. Being Unable to Escape Stressful Situations
In correlation with being in a confined space, cats that cannot run away or escape from stressful situations develop anxiety.
Cats enjoy leaping from a high place to another so they can overlook their surroundings. If they are limited with these vertical spaces, anxiety can ensue.
Cats are solitary pets and they need some alone time. Eating, sleeping, and relieving in their litter box is a private matter for cats. They can become easily uneasy when they have to do these activities while other people or pets are around.
5. New Unfamiliar Faces
Not all cats are socially inclined. Some cats love seeing new people around while others feel nervous and sensitive every time they see the presence of unfamiliar faces which leads to anxiety.
How to Ease Your Cat With Anxiety?
Knowing the cause of your cat’s anxiety is the most important thing to do before considering the following ways to reduce anxiety. From there, you can come up with the most effective anxiety-reducing treatment best suited for your cat.
1. Determine What Triggers the Anxiety
- Before doing anything, figure out the source/s of your cat’s anxiety. If you are unable to find out what is causing your cat’s anxiety, it is not guaranteed that you can treat the anxiety successfully.
- Since you already know your cat’s behavior and routine pretty well, you should be able to determine the root cause without difficulty. If the cause is not obvious, contact your veterinarian for help.
- Once you determine the specific object or incident that triggers the anxiety, the easiest thing to do is to eliminate it.
2. Assess Your Cat's Environment
- The primary treatment to relieve stress, both in cats and humans, is to find peace and calm. Put yourself in your cat’s perspective and figure out what might be stressing them out, such as loud volume from your TV, screaming children, or noisy appliances like a vacuum cleaner.
- Let your cat rest in a quiet area and a comfortable bed they can relax in. If you want extra comfort for your fur baby, you may want to get a cat condo, so they can leap away whenever they are near a trigger.
- Scratching is a cat’s best way to relieve stress. It is highly encouraged to get them a scratching post.
Make sure that the scratching post is stable and tall enough when your cat’s body is fully stretched out. It is best to get your cat’s measurement when stretched out before purchasing a scratching post.
- Once you have an assigned resting location for your cat, make sure that they have easy access to food, water, and litter box.
- If your cat loses appetite due to anxiety, they will have a sensation that their food is a little too rich which can be too much for digestion. Change to a bland diet for a short period to readjust your cat’s digestion routine.
- Let them listen to music that is soothing and relaxing which will soon relieve their anxiety. Classical music is one of the most effective music genres proven to soothe cats.
3. Spend Bonding Time With Your Cat
- There are many ways to spend bonding time with your cat that can help to make them feel reassured that you are with them. One way to stimulate and make them feel relaxed is by sitting quietly with your cat on your lap while stroking them from head to tail.
- Constantly petting, positive reinforcement, and rewarding them with a treat whenever they are in a stressful situation can help in perceiving that these situations will result in positive treats.
- Exercise does not only enhance their physical lifestyle but simulates their mental health as well. Exercise with your cat so they would feel socialized and build up more confidence while stimulating their mind and body.
- Encourage your cat to tinker and play with a variety of cat toys. For maximum results, let them play with the toys in rotation every few days so they would not feel bored.
Some cat toys even have catnips that enhance simulation to your cat’s brain and will boost the happiness receptor.
4. Use Cat Soothing Products
- Cat Calming Collars
One of the most popular products that can soothe anxiety is cat collars infused with pheromones that mimic the pheromones a mommy cat produces. It will remind them of their mother protecting them and make sure that they are safe and secured when they are kittens.
Keep in mind that these collars do not guarantee to work on all cats. Some cats will get more stressed out while wearing a collar which will negate the positive effects of smelling the infused pheromone.
- Cat Calming Pheromone Diffusers
If your cat is not a big fan of cat collars, you may want to consider using an automatic pheromone diffuser. These diffusers soothe your cat’s anxiety by mimicking and emitting a synthetic version of a pheromone released by mother cats while nursing kittens.
- Cat Calming Food and Treats
Soothing cat food typically contains ingredients such as L-tryptophan, a compound found in turkey that is correlated with sleepiness. These kinds of foods are also meant to subdue upset digestion, which could lead to cat anxiety.
5. Always Check Up on Your Cat's Health
- Always make sure that your cat has updated vaccination, flea, and deworming treatments. Make sure that your furbaby is free from any injuries and inspect their ears for ear mites.
- If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your cat’s veterinarian for a general check-up.
Managing cat anxiety will be a life-lesson in the patience of a pet parent. Learn to recognize what is triggering your cat’s anxiety and try the guides above. Don’t be hesitant to ask your veterinarian for advice.
Making your cat feel that you are with them along the way will build confidence and make them more independent. Keep in mind that your cat is your feline companion that will need tender, loving care until the end.