Understanding Cat Anxiety

Cat anxiety is most often caused by change or jealousy. Anxiety and stress can affect the emotional and physical health of your pet, so it is important to know how to identify, treat and prevent anxiety.

Causes of Cat Anxiety

Anxiety may be triggered by major events such as the loss of an owner or even by small changes such as the redecoration of your home. Cats don’t like changes and they will be stressed by:

  • New family members; babies or visitors
  • New pets
  • Loss of a companion
  • Changing house
  • Changing the litter brand or the location of the litter box
  • Changes in diet
  • Flights
  • Trips
  • Diseases
  • Extreme noise

When the cat identifies a possible problem or threat, his body will produce certain chemicals that are also produced when the cat is preparing for a fight.

These chemicals are helpful when the cats are in a fight, but in stressed cats, the chemicals will only lead to anxiety and a weaker immune system.

Symptoms of Cat Anxiety

Cat anxiety is a complex behavior that will involve changes in your cat’s temperament and other physical symptoms. A stressed cat will be less interested in activities and more irritable when not left alone.

You will also notice:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Excessive licking or chewing of fur
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Spraying
  • Chewing and scratching furniture and different objects
  • Excessive meowing

These symptoms may accompany other diseases, so diagnosing anxiety is difficult. The vet should rule out other medical conditions before deciding on diagnosing anxiety.

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety may be treatable and the treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

In some cases, it will suffice to spend more time with your cat and help him adjust to the changes. Play more with your cat and give him challenging toys and activities, to make sure his attention is focused on these.

If the anxiety is caused by the change of the litter brand, by all means go back to the old litter brand.

When getting a new pet, introduce the new companion gradually starting with a few minutes per day, so that your cat doesn’t feel threatened.

In more severe cases, if the anxiety is caused by the loss of an owner or a companion, drugs may be needed. Remove any objects belonging to the previous owner or companion, as even the smell of these can make the cat sad.

Anti-anxiety drugs administered to cats include valium or prozac. These drugs may have side effects such as excessive sleepiness and personality changes.

Pheromone diffusers have been also effective in calming stressed cats; these diffusers emit synthetic pheromones that imitate the smell of facial pheromones and make the cat feel more relaxed. These synthetic pheromones are made of soothing herbs such as valerianum.

Other herbs that have soothing effect on cats include chamomile, scutellaria laterifolia or passiflora incarnate. Get tinctures made of these herbs and put a few drops on the cat’s skin; the smell will calm the cat down. You may also use these tinctures in the food.