What is Cat Anxiety?

BY Debra Sherman TIMESeptember 13, 2022 PRINT

Cat anxiety is a serious issue and should never be ignored. Untreated cat anxiety can result in unwanted behaviors and health issues.  Learning not only what is cat anxiety but also how to treat it, is important for both you and your cat.

Symptoms of Cat Anxiety

According to PetMd, common signs of cat anxiety can include:

  • Withdrawal and hiding
  • Trembling
  • Trying to escape
  • Becoming less active
  • Diarrhea
  • Destructive behavior
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Not using the litter box
  • Sores on their skin from overgrooming
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive meowing
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
  • Pacing

Causes of Cat Anxiety

Fear. Cats can get anxious when they anticipate danger.

Pain or illness. Remember that cats will usually try to hide this, so by the time you’re seeing signs, it may be quite serious.

A traumatic experience. This can be as serious as past abuse, or as minor as someone startling them while they were in the litter box.

Exposure to infectious diseases or something toxic.

Lack of socialization or neglect.

Age. Just like humans, cats can experience anxiety-causing things like memory loss and confusion.  Joint pain or arthritis can also cause your cat to be anxious.

Changes. Big changes such as moving or a new person, baby, or pet coming into the house.  Or small changes like the location of their litter box or food dishes.

Cat Separation Anxiety

This is one of the most common forms of cat anxiety.  This will be apparent if your cat is fine as long as you’re at home, but becomes stressed or anxious when you leave (the house, or even the room). Cat separation anxiety is common among cats who have been adopted, who were abandoned, or have been passed from home to home.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

This should be considered if your cat is doing repetitive or exaggerated behaviors such as obsessive grooming, pacing, excessive meowing or chewing on fabric.  The causes of OCD in cats aren’t fully known, but it is thought that OCD is considered a mental disorder and can also be brought on by stress.  Sometimes we make this worse by giving our cats attention when they’re doing the compulsive behaviors.

How to Treat Cat Anxiety

Call the vet first. If you think your cat is exhibiting signs of cat anxiety, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.  It’s important to rule out any health issues or toxins first.  Because cats typically hide pain and illness, your vet may have to do blood work or other tests to determine if a medical or health issue is causing your cat’s anxiety.  If it’s a health issue causing your cat’s anxiety, your vet can help solve it.

Never punish your cat. Don’t scold or punish your cat for their anxious behavior.  This will only make it worse instead of better.

Help them feel safe and relaxed in their surroundings.

Reduce their stress. For information about what might be causing stress for your cat, read my article, Cat Stress Relievers – 10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out!

For more information on exactly how to help your cat with anxiety, read this article, Managing Anxiety in Cats.

Cat Anxiety Should Not Be Ignored

If left untreated, cat anxiety will probably get worse and result in unwanted behaviors becoming worse as well.  It can result in chronic stress which can affect your cat physically and psychologically.  Just like with humans, their immune system can be compromised, making them more vulnerable to illness, and severe depression can develop as well.  It’s important to create a peaceful home for your cat and take signs of cat anxiety seriously.

This article was originally published on peoplelovinganimals.com

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Debra is the author of People Loving Animals, a blog devoted to the care, health, and training of dogs and cats. Debra donates 10% of all commissions earned to animal charities. To learn more about Debra visit peoplelovinganimals.com.
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