Scaredy Cat? What You Can do About Feline Anxiety
Does your kitty hide beneath the bed when company comes over? What happens when you prepare for a trip? Do they lay inside your suitcase as you pack? Does your cat react in kind when you’re tired, grumpy, stressed out, or upset?
All cats are different, but feline anxiety is a common experience. Sure, you can chalk it up to Fluffy’s personality or mood, but left entirely alone, your cat’s anxiety could turn into a full-fledged behavioral concern.
A Complex Mix
There are distinct qualities related to the feline species, but your cat’s personality and behaviors are also shaped by early experiences and genetics. Exposure to a variety of sounds, smells, and other influences can profoundly alter a cat’s ability to deal with the world around them.
Without exposure, they may become frightened of things you may not expect. A state of anxiety occurs when a cat generally feels apprehensive about something bad happening.
What They See
Feline anxiety can result from the innate sense of fight or flight. If a cat senses a threat, they may quickly find a hiding spot with good visuals. When a cat feels the need to be self-protective, the fear they feel can be confirmed and reinforced..
Is it Natural?
Cats are perceived as naturally “skittish” animals, prone to escapism, hiding, or even destructive behaviors when anxious or upset. What’s worse is that feline anxiety can compromise the immune system, cause depression, or lead to worrisome habits.
Often the consequence of a change in routine (e.g., a new pet, new baby, or a move), feline anxiety typically includes the following symptoms:
- Weight change
- Excessive vocalizations
- Litter box issues (going outside the box)
- New compulsive behaviors, such as excessive grooming
- Destructive behaviors
- Pacing or restlessness
Addressing Feline Anxiety
Without a proactive approach, feline anxiety can negatively affect your cat, other pets, additional family members, your home, and other personal items.
- Minimize any stress in your cat’s life.
- Adding enrichment or positive play opportunities can go a long way toward the reduction of stress and anxiety; it may also strengthen the bond they feel with you.
- Use a pheromone diffuser or Feliway spray.
- Spend extra time together and always keep the routine with nutritious food and plenty of fresh, clean water.
When You Need More
It’s normal to feel like you should act differently at home to calm your anxious cat. However, doing so can reinforce your cat’s feelings instead of dispelling them. Try to remain positive and relaxed. Demonstrate love and affection towards your cat. Never forcefully extract your cat from their hiding place.
Sometimes feline anxiety requires veterinary support, behavioral training, or prescription medication. The team at Animal Internal Medicine & Specialty Services is happy to assist you with the challenges associated with feline anxiety. We’re committed to finding solutions that are tailored to you and your special cat.