Feline Wellness

Cats and Separation Anxiety

July 31, 2023

Cats love a routine and they also love their owners, more than they may like to admit. When their routine changes or their owner is out of the home more than usual - going on vacation or starting a new job, for instance - cats can experience separation anxiety. Seeing your cat so upset is heartbreaking so here’s some advice on how to identify and treat the symptoms of separation anxiety so you can reassure your cat and help them to relax.

Symptoms of separation anxiety may include: 

  • Excessive meowing, yowling, or crying
  • Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
  • Overgrooming themselves and creating bald patches 
  • Hiding 
  • Not eating 
  • Scratching furniture 
  • Acting extra needy when the owner returns home

Methods of treating separation anxiety:

  • Enrichment. Give your cat plenty to do while they’re alone. They need both mental and physical stimulation to be less bored and lonely. Puzzle feeders, new toys, cat trees, scratching posts, and cat TV can all enrich your cat’s life and keep them happy and distracted. 
  • Playtime. If your cat gets anxious while you’re at work or out for the day, try to have an intense play session with them before you leave. This will help tire them out and prepare them for a nap. If you’re traveling, make sure your pet sitter actively plays with your cat and doesn’t just feed them and clean up after them. Cats need to be engaged and active daily.
  • Cozy nooks and safe spaces. Make sure your cat has some cozy spots to hide out when they are feeling anxious. Pet beds, cardboard boxes lined with blankets or clothing that smells like you, or covered cat beds (which often come in fun shapes like pineapples, cupcakes, or sharks!) can help your cat feel safe when they are overwhelmed and missing you.
  • White noise or background music. Classical music is known to calm cats and white noise works well too. The repetitive, soft sounds help them relax.
  • Pheromones. Cats’ bodies produce pheromones and that is how they communicate with each other. Rubbing their faces on things, marking places with urine, and giving birth are a few ways that cats release pheromones. Pheromones help cats view the world and determine what is safe and what is not, what is mine and what is yours, what is good and what is bad, etc. Now, synthetic pheromone sprays and diffusers are made and can be extremely helpful in modifying a cat’s behavior. If your cat has a lot of anxiety, the scent of the pheromones (FYI humans can’t smell them!) can let them know that everything is ok and not to worry.
  • Medication. In extreme cases, a veterinarian may need to prescribe medication to help a cat dealing with anxiety. 

If you have an anxious cat, we hope this advice helps you and your furry friend achieve a more balanced and peaceful life. Everyone deserves to live stress-free knowing they are loved and cared for.

Love, Nala