Cat Separation Anxiety Treatment

Separation anxiety treatment for cats can help cats deal with their fear of being alone. Many people don't realize that cats can suffer from separation anxiety, since they are stereotypically considered independent creatures with little need for social bonding. In fact, cats need social contact as much as any of us, and cat separation anxiety is a real and common problem. Here's what you should know.

Causes of Separation Anxiety in Cats

Vets don't fully understand what causes separation anxiety in cats, but they think it may stem from a combination of both hereditary and experiential factors. Cats who are separated from their mothers at a young age are prone to separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety occurs in cats who fear being left alone. Cats form powerful emotional bonds with their owners and with other cats, and some cats may have learned to fear losing those with whom they have bonded. Vets now think that many cat behavioral problems could stem from separation anxiety.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in Cats

Cats who have separation anxiety may exhibit behavioral changes when separated from their owners, or from other pets to whom they are attached.

If your cat suffers from separation anxiety, you might notice him following you around inside the house, or moping when you try to leave. Your cat may even try to prevent you from leaving the house. When you return, your cat will most likely seem excessively happy that you're back. 

Cats with separation anxiety often display behavioral problems. Your cat may relieve himself in inappropriate places, often near your personal belongings or near the door through which you left. Your cat may scratch, chew and otherwise damage items in your home. He may howl when you are away.

Some cats express their separation anxiety through more subtle changes in behavioral. Anxious cats may groom themselves too much, and even create bald patches on their own skin. They may experience loss of appetite, or nausea and vomiting, when home alone. 

Treating Separation Anxiety in Cats

If you think your cat has separation anxiety, see a vet. Your vet will first want to complete a thorough physical examination to make sure your cat's symptoms aren't the result of an underlying medical condition. If your vet decides that your cat is physically healthy, a veterinary behaviorist can help you treat your cat's anxiety and behavioral issues. Your vet may suggest administering anti-anxiety drugs, such a Prozac, for a short time during the initial phase of your cat's treatment. 

You can help mitigate your cat's anxiety by making your absence less stressful. Ignore your cat for at least 15 minutes before leaving your home and before coming back. Distract your cat from your going, coming and absence by scattering interesting toys and treats around the house for him to find.

Make your cat's home environment more fun by installing window perches, cat towers and climbing shelves. These can keep your cat entertained and relieve his anxiety while you're away. Install bird feeders outside of windows, to give your cat something to watch. Leave music playing for your cat while you're gone, to help him feel less alone; you can even get another cat, if you think the two will get along.