Contrary to a common myth that cats are independent and aloof, most cats bond strongly with humans and with other animals in the home. Cats with separation anxiety may display a variety of symptoms. Fortunately, there are several ways in which you can help a cat with separation anxiety.
Certain cats are especially prone to developing this condition. According to Pet Place, genetics seem to play a role in separation anxiety. A predisposition to anxiety as well as emotional sensitivity are genetic factors that can put a feline at risk for developing this condition. Additionally, oriental breeds of cats, such as Burmese and Siamese, are prone to separation anxiety. Pet Place also indicates environmental factors put felines at risk for developing this condition. These can include the early weaning of kittens and abandonment. Pet store bought kittens are also prone to this type of anxiety disorder.
Cats who suffer from separation anxiety may exhibit many different symptoms, most of which occur when you is away. For instance, a cat may develop anorexia because he or she is too anxious to eat when you are away. As a result, your cat may begin to lose weight. When you are home, a cat with separation anxiety may insist on being near you all of the time, following you from room to room, according to the Doctors Foster and Smith website. When you return, your feline may give you an abnormally enthusiastic greeting. Vomiting and inappropriate elimination may also occur when you are away. Cats will most often urinate outside the litter box, but some will also defecate outside the litter box as well. According to Pet Place, cats who inappropriately eliminate while you are gone will often do so on your sheets, clothes, or other personal items or near the door you use to leave.
Cats suffering with this type of anxiety may try to get between you and the door as you are trying to leave or hide, sulk, meow, or become depressed. Some felines will also groom themselves excessively; some may even groom themselves to the point where they begin to create bald spots. Vocalization may also occur after you have left the home in the form of moaning, crying, or meowing. Although rare, cats with separation anxiety may engage in destructive behavior, such as chewing or clawing door or window edges.
The symptoms of separation anxiety in cats may be caused by other physical health conditions, according to Doctors Foster and Smith. For instance, a kitty who is urinating outside of the litter box may have a urinary tract infection. That’s why it is important to take your feline to a veterinarian in order to rule out any other health problems if you suspect your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety.
Fortunately, there are several behavioral as well as medical interventions you may employ to help a cat who suffers with separation anxiety. Leaving a radio or television on for your cat while you are away may help him or her feel less stressed. You may also want to get your cat a piece of cat furniture that is positioned within the home to give your cat a nice view out the window while you are away. It is also recommended that you ignore your cat for 15 minutes before you leave the home and for 15 minutes after you return home. This may be very difficult to do, but it will teach your cat that your leaving and coming home aren’t such a big deal.
About suggests leaving your overnight bag or suitcase out all of the time to desensitize your cat to it. Put clothes in it and take them out of it everyday so that your cat no longer gets anxious when he or she sees your overnight bag or suitcase. You can also try to fake leaving by going in and out of your door about 20 or 30 times in a row. Go in and out of the door over and over until your cat ignores you. Next, extend the time you spend outside to one minute before coming back in. Again, do this process until your cat begins to ignore you. Extend your outside time to three minutes, then to five minutes, then to seven minutes, and so on until your cat stops reacting to you, “leaving,” and, “returning.” This will help teach your feline that no matter how long you are gone, you will be back, according to About.
You can desensitize your cat to other clues that you are leaving by doing them several times throughout the day when you are not actually leaving. For instance, you can pick up your keys 40 times a day and set them down again. Pick up your briefcase and set it down often. Put on your coat and shoes and walk around with them on for a while. If you repeat the cues that tell your cat you are leaving enough times throughout the day, he or she will no longer respond to them.
If your feline is suffering with severe separation anxiety, your veterinarian may decide that medication is needed as part of your pet’s treatment plan. Your veterinarian may decide to treat your cat with Prozac, Clomicalm, or Buspar. Medication should be used in combination with behavioral therapy to help reduce your kitty’s separation anxiety.
If you suspect your cat has feline separation anxiety, please take him or her to your veterinarian for a thorough examination. If it is determined that your kitty suffers from this condition, try the suggestions in this article combined with any suggestions your vet makes to reduce the amount of stress your cat feels regarding you leaving the home.
Pet Place: Separation Anxiety in Cats:
Doctors Foster and Smith: Separation Anxiety in Cats:
About: Solve Your Cat’s Separation Anxiety:
Cat World: Separation Anxiety in Cats: