Anxiety In Pet Cats : Anxiety is one of the most common mental conditions faced by human beings, but cats, too, can battle against this disorder – in fact, it affects between 20% and 25% of all feline patients. The problem can start young, with a study by K Overall showing that the very first kitten physical examination by a vet can already cause stress, thus affecting welfare within a hospital environment. Cats can also feel anxiety in the home setting, especially when their owners leave the home. What are some of the most common causes of Anxiety In Pet Cats, and what can you do to help your cat overcome it?
Mild Signs of Cat Anxiety
- Avoiding eye contact
- Shifting body or head away
- Holding their tail close to their body
- Slight tail flicking
- Partially dilated pupils
Moderate Signs of Cat Anxiety
- Ears partially to the side
- Increased dilation of the pupils
- Increased respiratory rate
- Looking at the stimulus
- Holding their tail tight against their body
- Crouching and leaning away
Severe Signs of Cat Anxiety
- Trying to escape or completely freezing in place
- Fully dilated pupils
- Holding their ears back
- Hair standing up
What Are The Top Causes Of Feline Anxiety?
The most common cause of Anxiety In Pet Cats is a sensed threat in their environment. Anxiety can be either generalized (i.e. non-context-specific) or situational (for example, it may arise only when the owner leaves the home, when the cat visits the vet, or when they are transported in a car). Generalized anxiety can be particularly tough on cats because it places them in a constant state of stress, and their behaviors can manifest themselves continually or repeatedly.
Symptoms Of Feline Anxiety And Useful Strategies
If your cat has anxiety, it may urinate outside its litter box, hide, tremble, destroy furniture or items in the home, vomit or develop diarrhea, show changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, become more clingy, or lose the motivation to jump and frolic. Some of these behaviors can be tackled with dedicated strategies. For instance, if your cat begins to urinate repeatedly in frequent spots like a chair, bed, or on specific furniture items, ask yourself what smells deter cats from peeing. You may be surprised to know that fragrances you love from essential oils like lavender will do the trick, since cats hate them. Additional oils that work the same way include lemongrass, peppermint and eucalyptus. You can also try vinegar, coffee or any citrus smell.
Receiving A Diagnosis
Symptoms like clinginess, changes in appetite, and urination can often be significantly reduced by making changes to your cat’s diet, and/or limiting the spaces your cat has access to, but quelling anxiety on a deeper level requires a proactive approach. First of all, pay your vet a visit. Receiving a diagnosis is key, since the behaviors you have been witnessing could potentially be caused by another condition – for instance, an allergy, thyroid issue or infection.
Anxiety In Pet Cats . Treatment Options
Once a diagnosis is made, you can opt for behavior training, medication or supplements. It is also important to pinpoint the reason for your cat’s stress. If another cat is the cause, for instance, then you may need to separate this cat from yours until you can work out how they can coexist peacefully. Behavioral approaches can work for situational anxiety like transport situations.
You can desensitize your cat by taking it for very short then progressively longer drives. Supplements and medication are also available, though you may have to try various treatments to find one that does the trick without having side-effects. Above all, never punish your cat for anxiety-related behaviors. Instead, use positive reinforcement for good behaviors.
Vets estimate that around one quarter of all their feline patients have anxiety. If this is the case for your kitten or cat, it is important to visit your vet to rule out other medical conditions. Anxiety can be tackled through key strategies at home (including the deterring of urination outside the litter box with the help of essential oils). However, it is equally vital to stop the source of anxiety through behavioral therapy, medication, supplements, or a combination of these approaches.