How to treat separation anxiety in cats

How to treat separation anxiety in cats naturally

Sometimes cat parents witness abnormally needy behaviour that turns into aggression or disobeying of basic house rules. Every pampered cat shows signs of separation anxiety as a baby, but the trouble begins when they refuse to improve even when they grow up. This can not only be a hassle in living a regular life but also be unhealthy for the cat. Here’s everything you need to know about separation anxiety and also the treatment to give.

What is separation anxiety?

The resentment to or uneasiness on being left alone is called separation anxiety. Cats are fairly independent animals. But that doesn’t mean they like being left alone. Especially if they are very used to having their human around at all times, cats can also suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for longer than a few hours. Returning home to a stressed out cat who has defecated in the wrong places or has chewed/destroyed household items means you are dealing with a cat who has separation anxiety.

Why does separation anxiety occur?

The seeds of separation anxiety are usually planted in the first year of life of a kitten. Like babies, our cats are very needy and clingy when they first come into our lives. If at that stage, we draw a line and get them used to being on their own, every now and then, then we will raise an independent chirpy furbaby. However, if we keep giving in to their squeals and demands for attentions each time, they can get used to it and feel depressed or bored when left alone.

Separation anxiety can also occur due to a change in regular lives brought about by some unforeseen circumstances. For example, losing a loved one in the family or moving houses can make cats cling on to their owners desperately. This would mean that they wouldn’t let you stop out of the house for even a short while. If at all you manage to, you can hear them howl or meow for a long distance.

What are the signs of separation anxiety in cats?

Cats are masters of disguise and it is difficult to spot most diseases or troubles in them. But separation anxiety in cats has very visible and easily identifiable signs.

Common signs of separation anxiety in cats include:

  • Excessive meowing
  • Elimination outside of the litter box may also occur
  • Cats may defecate on the cat parent’s bed or clothing. It’s the kitty’s way to self-soothe by mixing scents and helping you find home.
  • Eating too-fast or not eating at all, when alone
  • Excessive self-grooming

You can find more information about the signs and symptoms of stress and separation anxiety in cats here.

How to treat separation anxiety in cats?

Separation anxiety is very much treatable by a step by step solution which includes changing your ways of showing affection and extra help from natural supplements.

Treating separation anxiety in cats:

Separation anxiety in cats

A rich environment

Cats can get bored easily. A lot of times they are asking for attention simply because they are bored and have nothing better to do. Incorporate puzzle feeders, playtime, elevated areas, hideaways and more to encourage it to find ways to trigger and satisfy its prey-drive. Get your cat a cat tree to perch itself on, while you’re away.

If your cat is spending too much time home alone, try making these changes in your routine to make the long wait easy for your cat.

Access to the outdoors

When we say outdoors we mean just enough access that it can get some air, watch some birds and head back inside. You have to be careful that it shouldn’t be able to run away. Sometimes cats can get curious about some odd scent and end up following it and getting lost. Even a window open with curtains drawn is great. This will keep the at from excessive meowing when left will look forward to its time alone.

Herbal supplements

Catnip won’t treat separation anxiety. It will only make your cat sleepy and drowsy, unable to worry about your return. However, supplements will help get a kitty back to being its chirpy self by boosting its own natural immunity system and spreading calm and soothe around.

Natural and herbal supplements like ours help ease anxiety in cats and include therapeutic herbs like the valerian root. Herbs like these help the cate cope with anxiety naturally. They can be mixed with regular food and water intake.

Interactive play sessions

Engage your cat in interactive play sessions on a daily basis. Twice a day would actually be even better. Interactive playtime allows your cat to simply enjoy being the mighty hunter. For a cat, being able to engage the prey drive and enjoy a successful capture is the ultimate in joy and satisfaction.

Keep it cool

Don’t make a big production about leaving. If you anticipate your cat is going to suffer from separation anxiety, you’ll just make it worse if you overdo the goodbye process. Your cat will think you’re leaving for a month instead of just 8 hours. Make your goodbyes very casual. Cats easily pick up on the emotions of their human family members. If you’re upset then your cat may get upset.

Important trick

Important trick to help treat separation anxiety in cats

One important trick is related to mental conditioning. Whatever you do right before leaving, like pick up the keys or wear a coat etc. should all be done without actually going out. For eg wear and remove your coat a few times. Pick up the keys but don’t leave. Walk up to the door and return. Step outside but return in a few minutes. These acts will become mixed signals for your cat and it won’t associate a particular act with leaving. Give it a try.

Here are some basic tips that can come handy when training your cat.

But irrespectively, separation anxiety is a serious problem and herbal supplements are a one step natural remedy that can help your cat cope with it. Find more information about our herbal cat supplements here.

References: Article by Erika Mansourian for American Kennel Club (December 2015) and Pam Johnson-Bennett’s book on cat behaviour