Cats are wonderful creatures and some of the most grateful and convenient house pets. They don’t require as much physical labor and time around them and they can manage themselves even in small spaces. However, just like any other pets, they can’t always tell us what they need and how they are feeling, and we have to learn to recognize some things on our own. One of those things is anxiety. Yes, cats can have anxiety, and it can severely impact the quality of their lives. So, let’s see how we can spot anxiety in our feline friends, what are all the causes that can trigger it and what we can do to stop it.
How to spot anxiety
It sometimes easy to overlook symptoms of anxiety in animals, especially if your pet didn’t grow up with you, but was adopted later in life. We might just chuck that under their personality, when actually they might be suffering. On the low-energy end, if you notice your cat isn’t eating well, that they’re hiding away often and that they are scared of other animals and people, it can be a sign of anxiety. On the other hand, they might be overly aggressive toward humans and animals and mark their territory outside of the box, according to PetMD. Some physical symptoms can be as extreme as psychogenic alopecia – excessive hair loss, says VetInfo.com. Of course, any of these symptoms on their own, or even coupled don’t have to automatically mean that your cat has anxiety issues, but they do all point to something being wrong and an adaptation that needs to be made.
Create a safe space
If your cat is suffering from anxiety, it will greatly appreciate a space that is just for them – especially if there are multiple animals in the household. If you can’t dedicate a room just for them, make sure they have at least a large box or some place that they can retreat to and where nobody will bother them, according to Wired.com. This will not only help them have a safe place to go when there are put in a triggering situation they want to escape from, but it will generally help calm them down.
Make sure they are healthy
Anxiety in pets can often be induced by different illnesses that are seemingly unrelated. So, make sure that you always keep a close eye on your pets, and if you notice anything strange, take them to the vet immediately. Resolving underlying issues with their health might help ease their anxiety. And to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep them healthy day-to-day, give them high-quality food. If you know that your cat is allergic or intolerant to something, keep it well out of their reach. If you have multiple cats and one of them gets sick, Cornell says to make sure they are isolated from the rest until they get better and keep your cats from roaming outside if possible.
Don’t surprise them
Cats don’t like surprises, plain and simple. If there is a sudden loud noise, a change in the routine or something new that is introduced suddenly, it can make them anxious. This means that cats need a routine, and one that is changed very slowly, if at all. For example, loud noises, like a vacuum cleaner, should be announced in some way, so that they can be prepared. It can either be escorting them to a different room or showing them the vacuum before you turn it on. If there is a new family member or even a pet joining the household, you should introduce them slowly, by first giving the anxious cat their scent so that they can get used to it, and making sure they stay away from the cat’s designated personal space when they arrive.
Let them vent
Cats are often anxious, but they can also deal with it well, if given the right tools. Climbers that they can play on and scale are a great way to do this, and so are any obstacle courses that let them get rid of excess energy. Not only that, but cats naturally gravitate toward higher ground, and they feel safe when they are high above ground, which eases their anxiety. Similarly, according to CatHealth.com, getting them a scratcher that they can use instead of a couch or armchair will help them get rid of anxiety and stress, similarly to how boxing or smashing something can help reduce it in humans. If you see that they are being aggressive towards others, this can be a good solution to help them get rid of that anxiety and energy. Don’t just assume that they have an aggressive personality and that they are “not good with others”, look deeper and find a way to help them.
We might not think that cats’ lives are impacted by something like anxiety, but we must remember that they are living, feeling, emotional creatures just like us and that they can suffer from everything just like us. Your pets are counting on you to keep them safe and comfortable, so do your best to spot any symptoms and give them the help they need to feel good.
Reference: Stefmar Pet Care
Diana Smith is full time mother of two beautiful girls and a proud owner of german shepard Billy and apricot poodle Sam.
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