Home Alone: Coping with Separation Anxiety in Cats

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A cat parent’s long working hours, traveling, bringing home a new kitty, or even shifting neighborhoods can lead to “separation anxiety” in cats. They don’t like unwanted space between themselves and their owner.

Separation anxiety can be due to loneliness, feeling neglected or scared. Self-harming, destructive behavior, and loss of appetite are a few of the many signs of separation anxiety. However, you can help cope with separation anxiety in cats that usually stay home alone by providing them with a happy environment. You can even use cat-calming products and toys and create a playful space with nooks for them to climb and jump. Keep reading this article to learn more about helping your cats deal with this issue.

Why Does Separation Anxiety Happen in Cats?

Imagine you are primarily with your cats, giving them treats, playing around, and having a good time, but suddenly, you stop because you spend more time outdoors without them. Similar reasons that might trigger separation anxiety in cats are discussed below.

  • Loneliness and Stress

Since cats consider their owners their providers and protectors, leaving them alone at home for long hours can instill fear, anxiety, confusion, and restlessness. The unusual sudden absence of the owner does not welcome cats.

  • Adjustment to a New Place

Getting accustomed to a new home can put them off the weather. Territorial acknowledgment is essential for them. It is common for a cat to miss its owner at this crucial phase of adjusting to a new household.

  • Change in Their Routine

Recently, your tight schedule at work might have prevented regular morning/evening walks with your cat or just spending lazy time together. The poor pet has no choice but to wait sadly for hours alone at home for your return. This sudden change in routine can give rise to separation anxiety and build stress and confusion in cats.

Whistleblowers for Your Cat’s Mental Health

If your active and cheerful cat suddenly appears grumpy, unattractive, or lazy, it’s time to take them seriously. Here are the sure signs to watch out for as indicators of separation anxiety.

  • Fearful

Curved tails tucked behind the back, body hair standing on the ends or following you everywhere, and hiding behind are indications that they are scared.

  • Abnormal Vocalizations

Howling and meowing more than usual with prolonged yawns are the indicators of anxiety. Below is the table showing sounds and their emotional reference in cats.

Alarming Sounds of CatsWhat Do They Indicate?
WhiningPain, discomfort, fear, or seeking attention
HowlingFear, anger, or territoriality
lengthy meowing with prolonged yawns/ YowlPain or distress
Low-pitched meows or purrsFeeling threatened
HissFear or aggression
  • Over-Excitement and Aggression

Being overly playful around you might indicate they seek more attention. Pet cats often tumble down toys, climb up spaces, and restlessly move around to show they need you around. From excessive scratching on a piece of wooden furniture to walls to self-harming, anxiety answers it all.

  • Change in Appetite

Sometimes, cats may exhibit actions like overeating, eating from another cat’s bowl, or the opposite, i.e., eating less or not eating at all. All these indicate signs of anxiety and depression.

  • Unusual Grooming

If your well-groomed cat suddenly appears unkempt or its coat seems excessively groomed, resulting in bald patches, it signals acute anxiety. It is a way to show that they need attention.

  • Hypersomnia

Depressed cats tend to sleep a lot. Their bodies become lethargic and seem unresponsive even to their favorite activities.

7 Tips to Help Your Kitty Overcome Separation Anxiety

Your efforts as a cat parent can help reduce their anxiety levels and help them get used to your absence at home. Below are ways to cope with separation anxiety in cats left alone at home.

1. Create a Playful Environment

Adding vertical nooks to hide and climb can help cats revive their confidence. A manual or app-controlled toy can help revive their inner playfulness. An electronic or rechargeable toy also helps keep them busy for hours. The PETLIBRO Electronic Cat Mouse Toy is one such toy that will keep your cat satisfied during its playtime, stimulating its senses thoroughly. Besides, playtime with you might be the right dopamine for your cat. To do so, you can point a laser toward the wall so the cat can follow it. You may even throw around some balls of yarn to get their attention.

2. Give Food They Like and How They Want It

Most cat parents know their cat’s favorite food. You can use it to rekindle their soul and restore the cat’s appetite and health. For example, putting your cat’s favorite food in different locations in the room (apparently at its favorite spots) can stimulate its desire to eat. Split the portion into different bowls to identify the location to which it is attracted the most.

3. Consult a Vet or a Cat Behavioral Expert

If your cat’s mental and physical health has gone downhill due to staying home alone or without you, immediately refer it to a veterinarian. Acute depression in cats can be dangerous. An expert can study the cat’s behavior and readily diagnose the reason for anxiety. Prescribed changes at home or in the cat owner’s behavior, along with medications, can quickly revive the cat’s old charm.

4. Hire a Cat Sitter

In the case of acute depression, where the cat hardly eats and remains scared and depressed at home, lack of company can make the situation even worse. In this scenario, hiring a cat sitter ensures care and vigilance over the activities and monitors the progress. For example, if your cat responds calmly to a specific type of music, the cat sitter can play it in your absence to make it familiar with a known environment, even in your absence.

5. Use Cat Dopamine and Cat Calming Products

Use natural dopamine like catnip toys, cat calming diffusers, or pheromones-infused collars. These products keep an anxious or depressed cat calm and happy in your absence. Catnip, which is a harmless “Happy drug” for cats, has no side effects if given in the correct quantity and under supervision,

6. Give Your Kitty a Partner

Introduce a new member to the cat family to give your pet a friend to play with. It will keep boredom at bay and bring your pet’s interest back. However, observing closely and seeing how the cat responds is initially recommended. Once accustomed, the cat’s thoughts for you will be substituted by its new mate.

7. Gradually Restore Their Old Habits

Try walking, playing, or doing something that you remember doing daily with your cat before they had to stay alone at home without you. Restoring old habits strengthens the bond with your pet and assures them of the love and importance they seek from you.

Conclusion

Your love for cats is best reflected when you sincerely care for their physical and mental well-being. Cats are intelligent creatures who quickly catch signs of abandonment and neglect. They might appear carefree, but their eyes always seek your love and attention.

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