Covering The Condition Known As Separation Anxiety And How It Affects Our Cats
Can cats experience separation anxiety? It’s a reasonable question as most people identify separation anxiety as a human disorder. However, cats experience anxiety just as much as people do, but in different ways. This article will breakdown the disorder known as separation anxiety and explain how & why it affects cats. We will cover the potential symptoms, causes, and preventative measures regarding separation anxiety in cats.
What Is Separation Anxiety?
According to Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, separation anxiety disorder (S.A.D.) is a mental health problem that causes the subject to suffer from feelings of extreme worry when apart from family members. The subject experiences fear of being lost from their family or of something bad occurring if they are not with their family members. S.A.D. is most common in young children that are still learning and understanding the world around them.
Why Cats Experience Separation Anxiety
Similar to young children, house cats don’t fully understand why their family members aren’t home all the time. This lack of understanding leads into the “what if” realm of possibilities. What if they never come home? What if something bad happened to them while they were gone? While it’s difficult to fully comprehend what and how a cat is thinking, we do know that they experience emotions just like people.
Cats can experience great joy and happiness just as easily as they experience sadness or depression. Although cats are widely regarded as independent animals, they are very much social creatures. Cats form very strong bonds with their owners and often experience distress when separated from them. They thrive off human interaction like playtime, snuggletime, and simply being in the same room as their owners.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Cats
There are several reasons why a cat may experience separation anxiety. Leaving cats alone for long periods of time is one of the most common contributors to separation anxiety. Additionally, not regularly giving them enough attention can also lead to separation anxiety disorder. Lastly, sudden changes in your schedule or routine can also contribute to separation anxiety as cats like to have structure and consistency in their lives.
Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Cats
Cats are very good at masking their pain and not showing their true emotions. As a result, signs of separation anxiety may not be very obvious. Some common signs of separation anxiety in cats include excessive vocalization, excessive grooming, destructive behavior, not eating or drinking while their owner is away, and urinating or defecating where they’re not supposed to.
If your cat is showing any of these signs, then contact your veterinarian. There could be an underlying medical condition such as a U.T.I. (Urinary Tract Infection). Once you and your veterinarian have ruled out any potential medical issues, then you can begin to focus on your cat’s mental health.
How To Prevent/Reduce Separation Anxiety In Cats
Anti-anxiety medication is always an option, but we suggest only resorting to medication in severe cases. Always consult with your veterinarian first to determine the best course of treatment for your feline friend. Aside from medication, we recommend providing more mental stimulation for your cat. Grab some toys and play with your cat while you’re home. Even just 20 minutes a day will make all the difference in their world.
Additionally, we suggest creating a stimulating and enriching environment for your cat. Provide them with lots of toys to play with, comfy spots to sleep on, and perches/nooks to sit on/in. Cat trees are a great way to provide all three of these things at the same time!
Lastly, you can also invest in things for your cat to do when you’re not home. This will keep them preoccupied and distracted from boredom, depression, and anxiety. Leaving food puzzles around while you’re gone will give them something to do that is also rewarding. You can also invest in pheromone diffusers, which disperse calming pheromones in the air that signal to your cat that they can relax and let their guard down.
Looking For A Pet Sitter?
Separation anxiety disorder in cats stems from them being alone and away from their owners for long periods of time. Cats are very independent creatures, but they still need routine social interaction in order to stay happy and healthy. The best way to prevent your cat from developing separation anxiety is to hire a pet sitter!
Here at Lucky Dogs & Cool Cats Pet Sitting, we treat your pets as if they were our own and provide them with the love and affection they deserve. We are bonded, insured, and offer a wide variety of pet sitting services. Click here to become a client today or give us a call at 919-372-5985. We look forward to hearing from you soon!