Help a Cat with Separation Anxiety
Does Your Cat Have Separation Anxiety?
Most people are not aware that cats can suffer from separation anxiety. Dogs are adept at showing their displeasure at being left alone. They may howl and tear things up when their owners are gone. Cats, however, are more subtle. A cat owner needs to pay close attention to what her kitty is telling her, or she may not understand her cat’s behavior.
Cat Separation Anxiety Symptoms
Does your cat do any of these things?
• He Follows you around the house, from one room to another.
• Shows signs of distress when you leave, including meowing, sulking, slinking away, hiding, and even acting depressed.
• Meows loudly after you leave. (You can use a tape recorder to monitor this behavior.)
• Refuses to eat if he is alone.
• Vomits when you are gone.
• Overdoes his grooming when you are not present. This practice can progress to compulsive self-grooming even when you are home.
• Claws and scratches doors when he is left alone.
• Urinates or even defecates on your clothing or belongings when you are absent.
• Greets you like you have been gone for years when you come home.
What Causes Separation Anxiety In Cats?
There can be many reasons. Sometimes your cat bonds too closely with you. This can happen with orphaned kittens, kittens who are weaned early, and kittens bought at pet stores. Sometimes genetic factors play a part. Siamese and Burmese cats may be more prone to developing separation anxiety. Some cats inherit a nervous or anxious disposition.
Sometimes a cat owner adds to the problem by encouraging the cat to get excited when the owner returns home because it is seen as a sign of attachment. Excessive attachment and over dependence is the basic cause of separation anxiety.
A cat owner may think it is cute when her kitten follows her all over the house, and may not even realize that a problem could be developing.
How To Help A Cat With Separation Anxiety.
You can help build your cat’s confidence by using behavior modification. This form of cat training takes some time, but it is pretty easy to teach your cat to be more independent. A more confident, independent cat will be a lot less stressed when he is alone.
Here are some suggestions that may help:
• Don’t make a fuss when you leave. Avoid paying any attention to your cat for a while before you leave.
• Set aside a favorite toy that you only bring out when you depart. Distract him with it when you go. Put it away when you get home.
• Hide some food or a favorite treat in a place where your cat will find it while you are gone.
• Don’t make a big fuss when you get home. Instead, ignore your cat for a while.
Desensitizing your cat to your leaving and coming home may help, too. Start by opening and closing the door, without actually leaving. Draw attention to yourself, so your cat notices. Then try going out for a minute or two and coming back in.
Gradually increase the amount of time you are gone every time you go out. You may need to work on desensitizing your cat for several weeks, but this should help him get used to the idea that when you leave, you do come back.
Cat owners tend to dismiss symptoms of cat anxiety, believing that they will go away on their own. Ignoring the symptoms can lead to problem behaviors, including vomiting, excessive grooming that can lead to hair loss, and inappropriate elimination.