You may have heard a lot of talk on the grapevine about dog separation anxiety, but what about the sassy feline in your life?
Your cat may pick and choose when they want to be fussed, but they can also feel separation anxiety, just as much as their canine counterparts. They enjoy their routine and can feel all out of sorts when this is shaken up and disrupted. FirstVet vet Dr Jessica May helps you learn all about cat separation anxiety, including how to prevent it and how to deal with it when needed.
Cat separation anxiety is a behaviour where your feline feels stressed and worried when they’re separated from you. Although they are well known for their independent personalities, some cats form a strong attachment to their pawrent and always want to be around them.
If they have to be apart from their owners for an extended amount of time, anxious behaviour can appear, often within minutes of an owner leaving. Felines of all ages can show separation anxiety, from kittens to older cats.
The smart humans in the lab coats don’t know the exact cause of cat separation anxiety (and why some cats suffer while others don’t). It’s believed that a mixture of the cat’s genes, their environment, and how they’re looked after can affect their likelihood of developing the behaviour.
It’s also believed that some cat breeds may be more prone to separation anxiety than others.
These are exotic types like the Burmese and Siamese, which are known to have higher social needs and a strong desire for attention. Bred as indoor domestic cats, Burmese and Siamese felines can get very attached to their owners.
There are numerous signs of cat stress and anxiety, and these can make an appearance both during the day and at night. Some indicators that your cat could be suffering from separation anxiety include:
These anxiety indicators can sometimes be more obvious at night when the house is quiet. Cats can sometimes also show separation anxiety from other cats, not just their humans.
If your cat seems happy or you’re not picking up on any obvious signs, it can be tricky to know if they are suffering from separation anxiety. One option to try and suss this out is to use pet cameras to monitor them. You may be able to see if they’re showing any distress while you are out.
Here’s a few things you can do to help prevent your kitty from developing separation anxiety:
If you’re noticing signs of separation anxiety in your cat, there’s a few things you can do to try and help calm them down immediately while you get in touch with a vet:
If your feline isn’t showing their normal cat-titude or you notice any changes to their behaviour, consult with a vet. FirstVet is available 24/7 for video appointments with trained UK vets and can provide advice and recommendations for your cat’s wellbeing.
The symptoms of separation anxiety can be similar to other conditions, so seeking out purr-fessional advice is important for getting the right treatment. For example, your feline peeing outside of their usual spot can be a sign of anxiety, but also indicate a possible urinary infection.
Some cats can miss their owners if they go on holiday as they don’t like to spend extended time apart from them. This is not true of all cats though, as some felines are purr-fectly content to hang out with other humans in the household or at a cattery. Getting your cat used to spending time with other people or at boarding facilities from a young age could help to prevent anxiety if you go away on holiday.
You also have the option of bringing in a cat sitter, though you will need to think about how much time they can spend with your cat and how safe they will be, for example being able to get out of the house.
With time and persistence, you could help to lessen your cat’s separation anxiety. Follow any guidance provided by a vet or behaviouralist and take things at a slow pace.
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