Can cats have separation anxiety

Separation anxiety isn’t common in dogs alone. Some cats also suffer from separation anxiety. Signs of separation anxiety in cats are hard to detect, making it relatively tough to diagnose. Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs are much more apparent. Hence, it is easier to calm them and treat their separation anxiety.

Cats already have a very moody personality. Therefore, it is hard for cat owners to tell if their cat is throwing a tantrum or if their mood swings are due to an underlying issue. As mentioned above, separation anxiety is rare in cats. Most cats have a secure attachment style. According to research, 64% of cats never develop separation anxiety as they are securely attached to their owners. But there is still a chance that your cat might develop separation anxiety. There is no particular cure for separation anxiety in cats. But there are several treatments of separation anxiety in cats. Medication for separation anxiety in cats also exists. Several vets recommend giving medication only when the case is severe, and your cat refuses to let you out of her sight. Thus, medicating your cat should always be your last option.

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Causes of separation anxiety in cats

Some of the common causes of separation anxiety in cats are given below:

  • Your cat is a female cat. Female cats are generally more prone to developing separation anxiety.
  • Change of house or owner.
  • Frequent changes in the routine of your cat. For example, feeding your cat at a different time every day. Returning home at different times every day. Forgetting to clean the litter box from time to time.
  • If you live alone and your cat is your only pet, your cat can develop separation anxiety when you are not around.
  • An orphan cat or a cat that was separated from her mother at a very early stage. (Cats should spend at least eight weeks with their mothers).
  • Indoor cats develop separation anxiety more easily. 
  • Cats that weren’t mother fed or weaned when they were very young.
  • An underlying disease or illness also causes separation anxiety in cats.
  • The genes and breed of your cat play a significant role in this. Some cat breeds are more prone to developing separation anxiety.
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Signs of separation anxiety in cats

Cats exhibit largely the same signs of separation anxiety as dogs do. You can easily detect it if you observe your cat carefully. Here are the most common symptoms of separation anxiety in cats:

  • Cats with separation anxiety start grooming themselves more than usual. This is more common in female cats, but many male cats also start excessive grooming as soon as they develop separation anxiety.
  • Cats with separation anxiety usually urinate on the owner’s belongings, such as a clothing item or the bed. This is their way of calming themselves whenever you are not around and usually happens when you are out of the house. 
  • Cats with separation anxiety develop aggression and destructive behavior. You may see them scratching items in the house. This is not their way of taking revenge but simply of taking out excess tension from their system. 
  • Excessive howling or yowling is also typical in cats with separation anxiety. This usually occurs when the cat knows you are about to leave or at night time. Most people confuse it with a cat being in heat.
  • Clinging to the owner more than usual. Your cat will do anything to get your attention when you are around. For example, she will knock on the door or sit next to you. Sometimes cats even bite or attack you when you try to leave them.
  • Defecating everywhere except the litter box.
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Diagnosing separation anxiety in cats

You cannot diagnose a cat at home. Therefore, if you notice strange or unusual behavior, it is recommended that you take your cat to a vet. Your vet will first check if your cat has any health issues or not. Once all of the tests are conducted, your vet will be able to identify the root cause of your cat’s behavior. Sometimes eradicating disease can completely change your cat’s behavior. You can help your vet diagnose your cat by filming your cat’s behavior when she is home alone.

Treatment of separation anxiety in cats

Following are the best methods to treat separation anxiety in cats:

  1. Don’t change the routine or schedule of your pet. Try to keep your everyday schedule the same as well. Changing your routine or your cat’s routine frequently can cause them anxiety and increases stress.
  2. Ignore your cat whenever she starts acting up. Giving her a treat will encourage attention-seeking behavior in her. Therefore, it is always preferred to leave the cat whenever she is trying to get your attention.
  3. Give something to your cat before leaving the house. You can give her a favorite toy or interactive puzzles. Interactive puzzles keep your cat occupied for a long time. Therefore, fill it with your cat’s favorite treats and give it to her while leaving the house.
  4. Make leaving the house as natural as you can. Don’t go for goodbye hugs or kisses. Don’t disturb your cat before leaving the house. This will normalize you leaving the house for your cat.
  5. Use pheromone sprays in the house. Use it where your cat usually spends most of her day.
  6. Install chat cameras in your house. This way, your cat can see you whenever you are out. You can even feed her and talk to her while you are away.
  7. You can make the house more interesting for your cat. You can leave the TV on if your cat is interested in watching TV. You can also add more toys and pictures around the house to keep your cat satisfied.
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Conclusion

You should never punish a cat suffering from separation anxiety. Treat separation anxiety like you treat any other disease or problem. It will take time to get rid of separation anxiety in your cat, but be persistent. Keep making efforts. Talk to your vet and get daily guidance. You can also take your cat to an animal behaviorist. Just remember to be understanding when it comes to your cat. Match your pace with the pace of your cat.

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