In this guide, we will discuss what cat anxiety is, symptoms, treatment, and recommendations.
Cat anxiety: fears and phobias
Signs that your cart has anxiety can be manifested as peeing outside the box or excessive grooming.
When you leave your cat alone it will exhibit excessive distress or anxious behaviors.
We know, your cat can be like your spoiled child and it is difficult for you to see them in distress.
You feel frustrated and more stressed because you don’t feel like there is anything you could do to change the situation.
You have even thought about giving him some over the counter medicine, some you are taking or someone advised you to use.
Sure, anxiety is not just for humans. Cats and dogs can feel it too.
If you’re worried that your dog has started to act anxious, you’re not alone. If you’re looking for the right bed for your little anxious doggo, here are the Best Dog Bed for Small Dogs with Anxiety.
If you have dogs with anxiety, you can buy them dog beds, they can find small, medium, large size, as well as pillows. You can also get sprays, aromatherapy supplies, anti-anxiety shirts, and other supplements that will keep your dog calm.
If your pet won’t calm down or you are going to travel, try buying a duty dog crave and a harness. Check the Best things to give dogs for anxiety and the 20 best dogs breeds, as well as Emotional support dog breeds.
We will discuss the symptoms and how to know your cat has anxiety.
A phobia, just like in humans is a persistent fear towards a specific stimulus that has been associated with an emotional response.
It can start by being afraid of thunderstorms but it can be generalized to any other loud noise like for example when you use the blender to make smoothies he just runs away in fear.
This was clearly not a thunderstorm but it generated the same reaction of fear.
According to PetMD “Fear is the instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object that appears to present an external threat — whether real or perceived. The response of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for the freeze, fight, or flight syndrome”.
This is just a normal response if we are confronting a possibly harmful situation we tend to fight or flight.
In animals it is also instinctive, the react due to the fear that was generated in association with the stimulus.
Separation anxiety is the most common type of anxiety in animals.
When they are alone, they tend to exhibit anxiety or excessive distress behaviors.
PetMD indicates that “most fears, phobias, and anxieties develop at the onset of social maturity, from 12 to 36 months of age. A profound form of fear and withdrawal of unknown causes often occurs around eight to ten months of age. Old-age-onset separation anxiety of unknown cause may be a variant of a decline in thinking, learning, and memory in elderly pets”.
Symptoms and Types of cat anxiety
- In the case of fears or phobias, signs and symptoms may vary but the diagnosis may be made only on the basis of nonspecific signs and it is difficult to determine since no identifiable stimulus is present.
- For mild fears, symptoms include but are not limited to trembling, withdrawal, hiding, reduced activity, and avoidant behaviors.
- For Panic attacks, symptoms may include avoidant or active escape behavior and an increased and out of context potentially injurious motor activity.
- Having diarrhea due to stress, (sympathetic autonomic activity). This is related to inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Others have described the following behaviors as symptoms (bustle.com):
- Your cat hides all the time
- Has become very aggressive
- Excessive vocalization
- Won’t stop grooming
- Will refuse to use the litter box
- Trembling or shaking
- Starts to follow you everywhere
- Their eating habits have changed
- It is lethargic
- Restless or pacing
- Excessive drinking
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Poor coat condition
- Painful urination with blood
Some other symptoms mentioned by Pet Plan are:
- A stressed cat may mark her territory by spraying (squirting urine horizontally) while standing with her tail quivering in the air.
- If your cat feels unsafe or threatened, she’s likely to hide and crouch down to make herself seem as small as possible. That way she’ll feel less visible to any potential dangers.
- An unhappy cat will often twitch the end of her tail as a warning sign, just before stress sets in. Her claws may also come out in self-defense.
Causes of cat anxiety
- A medical condition or an illness can increase the risk of the development of fears, phobias, and anxieties.
- Nervous system changes due to normal aging, infections to the central nervous system and toxic conditions such as poisoning can lead to behavioral changes and problems including fears, phobias, and anxieties
- Traumatic experiences. Your cat may have been forced to be in an unfamiliar setting or under frightening conditions.
- If your cat has been deprived of social contact until 14 weeks of age then it can develop a fear of interaction or contact.
- If the cat has been exposed to a situation where escaping or getting away was not possible, such as being caged, locked out in abusive situations, it can contribute to developing phobias and panic.
- A history of abandonment, being adopted, switching homes or prior neglect, can contribute to developing separation anxiety.
Diagnosis of cat anxiety
Your vet will want to rule out there are no underlying medical conditions that may be causing this change in your cat’s behavior (e.g. brain or thyroid disease).
This behavior could also be related d to a toxic substance which can eventually cause neurological disorders.
Your vet will do some blood tests that will rule out or confirm such a possibility.
Treatment for Cat anxiety
Talk to your vet if your cat is exhibiting anxious behavior, and he/she may prescribe anti-anxiety medication.
Your vet will also have other treatment options or tips to help alleviate your cat’s anxiety.
He or she may even suggest that you work with a certified animal behaviorist.
Try assessing the environment and the places where your cat tends to be most of the time.
Making adjustments to the environment or changes into your routine can relieve your cat’s anxiety.
If your cat suffers from separation anxiety, providing distraction toys (e.g puzzle feeders) can be beneficial.
Those toys can be left before you leave and then you can take them away once you are home.
Scents and natural remedies can be a good option for your cat’s anxiety symptom relief.
Feliway is said to be one of the popular choices that comes in a diffuser or a spray bottle.
It is a synthetic feline facial pheromone that helps ease tension related to territorial and environmental stress (the spruce pets).
Another recommended option is rescue remedy or batch flower remedies is said to be very effective when treating anxiety symptoms in cats.
Be very careful when using aromatherapy products, especially if they are not meant for pets or pet-specific.
There are some essential oils that are actually toxic to cats.
What happens if I leave my cat’s anxiety untreated?
According to Hills Pet, “Untreated anxiety won’t get better on its own, and will likely become worse over time, with undesirable behaviors becoming more pronounced”.
Just as with us humans, chronic stress can have a detrimental physiological impact on your cat’s health in the long-term.
It could compromise their immune system and make them more vulnerable to illnesses.
Additionally, they could develop depression on top of the anxiety which ultimately will lead to behavioral problems.
We know sometimes we want faster solutions or just wait for things to fall back into place but if your cat is exhibiting anxious behavior try looking for professional help.
Why is this blog post about cat anxiety important?
Here you have learned the most important aspects of cat anxiety. We know now that anxiety is not only human.
Additionally, we can recognize the signs and symptoms of distress, anxious cat.
We need to understand that not every sudden behavioral change in your cat indicates that he/she has anxiety.
It could be associated with a medical condition or even being exposed to a toxic substance or environment.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
A veterinarian can assess the case and establish a diagnosis and treatment.
Remember there is the thing you could do at home and there are even alternative homeopathic and natural treatments you can consider.
Feel free to comment on the comments section down below!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about cat anxiety
What can I give my cat for anxiety?
For anxiety, your vet could prescribe in cases of long-term separation anxiety, fluoxetine, clomipramine or amitryptiline.
Other medicines could be used in the short term for specific situations such as traveling or going to the vet.
The most prescribed in this case is acepromazine, Xanax and Ativan.
How can you tell if your cat has anxiety?
Signs and symptoms of cat anxiety are changes in their mood, hiding excessively, being aggressive, increase vocalization, changes in appetite or weight, following the owner around the house and increased lethargy.
These are not the only symptoms, some cats may behave differently when having anxiety.
Rule out any possible underlying medical conditions first by contacting your vet.
Can having a cat help with anxiety?
In general, owning pers can be good at releasing stress and lower anxiety levels.
Animals have proven to be as effective as emotional support companions for people with mental or physical disabilities.
Why do cats get anxiety?
Cat anxiety can be caused by pain or being ill, exposure to toxic substances or infectious diseases that could possibly affect the nervous system.
It could be related to psychological triggers or stressors such as a traumatic experience or lack of proper socialization, history of abuse or neglect.
Various situations associated with emotional reactions cause cats to develop anxiety.
Does catnip reduce anxiety in cats?
Catnip can be very useful to reduce the cat’s anxiety and stress level, given that it has a calming and soothing effect.
This can be used when going to the vet or when having urinary issues.
Can cats take Benadryl for anxiety?
For many cats, Benadryl for anxiety is safe and effective since it has a sedative effect that helps with the anxiety symptoms, however, before administering the drug, talk to your vet about it since giving out the wrong dose or Benadryl that has any other component can become life-threatening for your cat.
- WDSUN Calming Collar for Dogs and Cats, Antianxiety Collar with Adjustable Size,Natural Safe Waterproof Long Lasting Calming Effect Cat and Dog Anxiety Relief,1 Pack(Large)
- Soft Pet Bed for Cats and Small Medium Dogs Portable Cat
- Relaxivet Dogs & Cats Calming Diffuser + Refill | New Improved Anti-Stress Formula | Natural Anti-Anxiety Treatment #1 with a Long-Lasting Calming Effect
- FELIWAY Classic 30 day starter kit. Diffuser and Refill. Comforts cats and helps solve behavioural issues in the home, 48 ml
What we recommend for curbing Anxiety
Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety
Anxiety Weighted Blankets
- Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.
- Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.
- With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.
- Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night. An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.