Most of us probably think of cats as solitary animals. But really, and especially throughout the lockdown of 2020, our cats have gotten much more used to having us around. You might even notice that they prefer it when you are around. Cats are very keen on routines and being able to predict and control their environment. When we prepare to enter our “new normal” in society and go back to our in-person jobs and activities, our cats will still be at home and the routine will no longer be in their control. This is when separation anxiety in your cat kicks in.
Signs of Separation Anxiety in Your Cat
Separation anxiety in cats is real and it can manifest itself is many ways:
- an overall change in eating habits
- excessive meowing or vocalization
- using the bathroom outside of their litter box
- excessive grooming
- being unusually excited about you being around, or the opposite…
- becoming extremely aggressive or destructive
Why Does Separation Anxiety Manifest This Way?
If you’ve had a cat before that has been stressed out, these probably look familiar to you. When a cat is stressed out, there are some physiological manifestations of that, such as the vomiting and diarrhea. There is also the need for the cat to try to control its environment. This explains the toileting outside of the litter box, change in grooming habits, and the wild swings of emotion your cat exhibits around you. They’ve gotten used to the new routine of you being around all the time; if your cat seems to be acting out or is distressed, this is how they are attempting to take back control of the situation.
How To Help Your Cat With Separation Anxiety
Retrain your Cat to be Alone
If you have the time, you can try separation training. This is when you leave your cat alone for small periods of time but growing the period of absence over a few weeks or months. This is how you get your cat comfortable with you being away and out of the house for growing amounts of time. Start off with a couple hours. The next week, extend it a few more hours, and keep going until your cat is comfortable with you being gone.
Other Ways to help your cat
In the meantime, try to engage your cat in other ways.
- Leaving the TV or radio on is a good way too keep your cat “company” while you were away.
- Surprisingly enough, aromatherapy works on pets just as well as it does on humans. Your cats stress and anxiety levels can be decreased by defusing a few easily accessible scents or oils. Cats are attracted to scents like, mint, lavender, and copaiba. Steer clear of more woody oils like, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, melaleuca – anything with salicylates or phenols. It is important to note that essential oils are not FDA regulated and a lot of them that you can find in stores and markets are synthetic and should not be ingested or inhaled. Companies like doTerra and Young Living are known for their high quality and safely inhaled oils.
- Encourage natural cat behavior like scratching, climbing, hunting, and pouncing. Cat trees or climbing frames are a good way to indulge your feline while allowing it to release some energy and carry out some of its basic instincts.
Nobody knows your cat like you do, so these suggestions are just that: suggestions. If you have specific questions, or you want to talk to somebody about what you can do to relieve separation anxiety in your cat, give Catonsville Cat Clinic a call. We’d love to talk to you.