Cats are known to feel and exhibit a wide array of emotions, and their behaviors definitely mirror how they feel. For example, a happy, confident cat will simply appear content and satisfied. Likewise, a stressed-out, scared, or anxious cat will conduct themselves in ways that aim for self-preservation and protection. Cat anxiety occurs for many reasons, but with support and understanding, symptoms can be supplanted by happy kitty vibes.
Some cats just have personalities that can be perceived as anxious or fearful. However, if your cat continually displays the following symptoms of cat anxiety, he or she may benefit from some extra support:
- Hiding, most or all of the time
- Aggression toward anyone (people and other pets alike) that comes near them
- Urinating outside their litter box
- Increased vocalizing (characterized by mournful meows or threatened yowling noises)
Without a doubt, these symptoms can also be related to troublesome medical conditions. As such, it is critical to have your cat examined to rule out the presence of a serious illness or injury. Treatment of a possible condition, and mitigating pain, can quickly resolve worrisome symptoms.
When You Know, You Go
If your cat is otherwise physically healthy, the next step is to consider his lifestyle and environment. Do you have a multi-pet home? Are there lots of visitors to your home?
Providing and maintaining a healthy amount of privacy can resolve issues related to cat anxiety. They should always feel like they have their own, quiet place to relax in. If they don’t have a place of refuge, their behavior may indicate unease, fear, or dissatisfaction.
Additionally, take a look at your cat’s litter situation. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one more. A single cat should have two boxes to choose from.
Staying Safe & Happy
Indoor-only cats are arguably safer than outdoor cats, but they may instinctively want to hunt and chase prey. You can mitigate these drives by installing engaging toys for them in or around their home, such as:
- A cat tree by a window facing a bird feeder
- A catio (and enclosed outdoor patio that delivers the best of both worlds)
- Scratching posts
- Food puzzles
Additionally, the use of a commercially available feline pheromone spray can benefit cats that feel threatened by calming them down.
Don’t Know What to Do
Before cat anxiety is identified, it can be extremely frustrating to live with a cat that acts aggressively or doesn’t use her litter box. It is counter-productive to scold or punish a cat. Positive reinforcement training may be helpful, but it’s a process that takes time. Helping your cat create and maintain positive associations with you and their surroundings is key to reducing cat anxiety.
By pinpointing exactly what your cat needs (more playtime, less noise, etc.), you can reduce the telling symptoms of cat anxiety.
Please note: Before any visit, it is always a good idea to confine your pet to a small area. A bathroom works well, or you can get them cozy in their crate. Lots of pets can go running for cover as soon as they hear someone at the door! And this way, we can be sure to provide care promptly.