Separation anxiety in dogs is one of the most common behavioral issues affecting both pups and their people alike. Unfortunately, dogs share this diagnosis with other pets, including our sweet kitties.
Perhaps owing to their solitary and quiet natures, cats are perceived as being less demanding of their owner’s time and attention. However, the love you feel for your cat is returned to you tenfold, thus making any episodes of isolation and loneliness that much harder for our feline friends. Separation anxiety in cats is a very real problem today, but there are ways to get through it together.
Despite their reputations for being “low-maintenance” pets, cats are incredibly social creatures. They are profoundly tuned into their environments and deeply impacted by even slight shifts to household rhythms. As a result, separation anxiety in cats can stem from any changes between their human caregivers and/or within the home.
Cats show attachment behaviors toward their human caretakers, and after significant play time, naps, and breaks for meals, they seek out closeness with their favorite people. They can let their guard down around their one and only person, and show they feel safe with slow eye blinks and head butts.
It Makes Sense
Deeply attached cats can experience distress and fear when parted from their owner. Separation anxiety in cats can occur during any time apart, but is more likely to cause serious symptoms throughout extended periods of alone time. Genetics may be responsible, but environmental factors equally contribute.
What to Look For
Cat separation anxiety can manifest in numerous ways. It’s important to look out for these initial warnings to waylay further development:
- Clinginess and desire to be “under the owner’s foot” at all times.
- Obvious distress while their owner prepares to depart, such as packing a bag, putting on work shoes, picking up keys, etc.
- Increased vocalization.
- Change in eating and drinking habits.
- Excessive self grooming.
Separation anxiety in cats can lead to destructive behaviors, intentional urination/defecation on owner’s personal belongings, and vomiting.
Signs of feline anxiety can range from subtle to overt. Cats that suffer from it may greet their owners with an overabundance of affection and attention.
It is best to have even the slightest changes in behavior checked out. When we rule out possible underlying medical conditions, the road to managing anxiety can be much more effective.
- Always leave and return with an air of neutrality.
- Play with your cat for 15-30 minutes before departing, and offer a deliciously healthy treat as you go.
- Leave them with interactive food puzzle toys to keep them busy and distracted in your absence.
- Enrich their environment with scratching posts, cat trees, window perches, a catio, and other opportunities to survey and sleep.
- Spray feline pheromone spray around the house to calm nerves.
There are prescription medications available to treat cat separation anxiety, if none of the above strategies work.