Cat anxiety is a lot more common than you might think. This is because cat behaviour varies, and pet parents aren’t always aware that their baby is dealing with anxiety. However, once you familiarise yourself with the most common symptoms and ways to prevent or treat your feline pal, you will find out how to help your cat with anxiety.
Cat anxiety can affect the quality of your feline baby’s mental as well as physical health. There are three major types of anxiety disorders that can be found in cats: phobia, fear, and anxiety. These disorders usually develop during the first year of their life. The first signs of cat anxiety manifest between 5 months and 1 year of age. If untreated, they will worsen by the time your cat is 3 years old.
There are various reasons that induce anxiety in cats. Some are more common than others, and some may be prevented, as well. The most common causes are:
- Illness or physical pain: An infectious disease or a painful physical condition might induce anxiety in your cat or aggravate it.
- Trauma: Traumatic experience is a common cause of cat anxiety as well as fear.
- Instability: Constant rehoming and separation from their pet parent or other family members creates a very unstable routine that can result in severe cat anxiety.
- Lack of socialisation: If your cat is not exposed to a social environment during their socialisation period (7-12 weeks of age), they will be more prone to developing fear or anxiety.
TIP! Take preventative measures early on by exposing your cat to positive social situations when they are still young. Do not force them into situations that might induce fear! Make sure that the social environment is positive and welcoming for them.
Cat Anxiety Symptoms
Signs of cat anxiety are quite distinguishable. Do not overlook them. If you notice that you cat is experiencing any of the following, consult your vet:
- pacing or restlessness
- lack of appetite
- excessive grooming
Moreover, symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on the degree of cat anxiety.
- Avoids eye contact
- Shifts body or head away
- Holds tail close to their body
- Slight tail flicking
- Slightly dilated pupils
- Ears to the side
- Increased dilation of the pupils
- Higher respiratory rate
- Holds their tail tight against their body
- Crouches and leans away
- Attempts to escape or freezes in one place
- Fully dilated pupils
- Holds their ears back
- Hair stands up
- Long stare
Once you have identified the problem, the next step is to found out how to help your cat with anxiety.
- Create a safe space for them. If your cat experiences escape tendencies, the best solution is to give them the physical space to do that. It can be a separate room with a cozy bed or a small corner with a tall cat tree. Don’t try to confine them.
- Increase playtime. Spend at least 15 minutes a day playing with your cat using a laser pointer or a toy. Playtime is a great way for them to exercise and relieve stress.
- Stick to a routine. Try to feed your cat at the same time every day and clean their litter box more often.
- Give them natural calming supplements. Use cat-friendly herbs in the form of oils, treats, and capsules to ease anxiety.
- Visit the vet for medication and anti-anxiety diets. Do not give your feline baby medication or subject them to a strict diet without any prior professional consultation. Always check with your vet.