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Contrary to popular options, cats are not loners. A cat can form strong bonds with other animals or humans. Most pet owners are familiar with dog separation anxiety. But cat separation anxiety is also possible when separated from the people or animals they are deeply attached to. The separation anxiety can either be mild or severe. The cat’s behavior will change; if you are keen, you will notice the early separation anxiety signs and find ways to help the cat.
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10 signs of separation anxiety in cats
Cats suffering from separation anxiety will exhibit some symptoms. The early clues are subtle and are usually misinterpreted or missed. Every cat has a unique personality; separation anxiety in cats will vary from one pet to another. You will start noticing aggressive, possessive, and clingy when the person the cat is overly attached to is preparing to leave the house.
Besides that, here are ten classing signs that show your cat is struggling with separation anxiety.
- Defecating or urinating outside the litter box: Most cats will pee or defecate outside their litter box when they feel lonely or detached from their favorite person. One study showed that more than half of the cats would pee on the parent’s bed out of separation anxiety.
- Overgrooming: Your cat spends an abnormal amount of time grooming itself; there is a problem. The cat will become obsessed with licking itself. You should probably check in with a veterinarian when you notice a behavior change. Grooming will start like displacement behavior, but it will progress if it’s unchecked.
- Destructive behavior: The cat will start to be destructive of your and their environment when you are not home. Even if you have trained your cat, it will start scratching on window frames and doors or knocking things down when they are alone. The destructive behavior is more common in males.
- Excess vocalization: You will notice loud and persistent meowing, crying, or moaning. This usually happens right after the owner leaves. However, don’t assume the excess vocalization is cat separation anxiety. Ensure every other medical problem is ruled out first.
- Vomiting: Overgrooming will make your cat vomit hairballs more than usual. It’s also possible for the pet to vomit food while you are away.
- Over-attachment: Your pet will be too attached to the owner or caregiver. It follows them from room to room and always wants constant contact when they are close. This will go on until you find a way to manage the separation anxiety.
- Poor appetite: This can indicate other health issues, but it’s also one of cat separation anxiety symptoms. It will start eating too fast or staying away from food entirely. Without eating enough, your cat might experience health issues.
- Too much excitement upon your return: Your cat will show a usual amount of excitement every time you come back home. But if your pet greets you over-exuberantly, you should be alarmed.
- Trying to escape: You will find the indoor cat trying to escape every time you leave the house. If it always tries to get out, the escape attempts will increase tremendously.
- Aggressiveness towards other people: The aggression happens when someone else tries to pet or touch them. If it’s usually a friendly cat, this will be a huge red flag.
What to do if your cat is suffering from separation anxiety
There are a few things you can do to relieve separation anxiety in cats. It all relies on the little things you do around the house. Here are a few tips.
Don’t make a big deal out of departures and arrivals
Be very calm when you are coming back or leaving the house. If your cat has separation issues, it will become more anxious when they see certain items or actions that indicate you are going. Pick your keys discreetly and be subtle with your leaving routine. When you come back, try to ignore the attention-seeking behaviors.
Instead of picking them up when they are greeting you exuberantly, wait until they come down. Behavior modification will help you in the long run.
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Offer enrichment activities
Find ways to enrich your cat’s life and the environment when you leave. You should consider leaving plenty of toys or treats around the house so the pet can go on an adventure. Organize the home in a way that will make them less lonely. You can have a cat tree for them to view outside and some bird feeders outside. The birds will grab their attention for hours sometimes, although it may make them want to go out. You can also leave the TV on or some soft music.
Maintain a consistent routine
A consistent routine is very crucial for a pet with anxiety disorders. If you may, leave and come back around the same time every day. However, this is going to be difficult, especially when your job is unpredictable. When you are home, schedule playtime and provide a lot of cuddles.
Exposure to other people
When your cat is only used to being around you, it will be challenging to prevent separation anxiety. When your friends come over, you should allow them to feed the cat or play for a little while. It may take time before the pet comes around, but it’s worth it. A cat that is used to multiple is less anxious in general. It’s also more likely to accept other caregivers.
Try natural calming supplements
A natural anxiety relief includes some calming tinctures or oils. Talk to your vet before administering these to your cat.
You should first visit a veterinarian to rule out any medical condition when you start noticing these separation anxiety signs. When you are sure the pet is suffering from separation anxiety, you can find ways to prevent it. Be more attentive to the environment you leave them in. Make it as playful and less lonely as possible. Anti-anxiety medicine should be the last resort because behavior modification usually works.