Like humans, anxiety in cats can be caused by psychological, physical, and environmental factors.
Common signs that your cat is suffering from anxiety:
- Excessive grooming or lack of grooming
- Hiding or pacing
- Peeing outside the litter box
- Overly attached to you
- Showing signs of aggression (fighting, aggressive furniture scratching, controlling territory, etc.)
- Excessive meowing
- Change in eating habits or sudden weight loss
- A change in activity level
- Increase in vomiting (more than a periodic hairball)
Some reasons that your cat may be anxious include:
- A change in your daily routine (new sleeping schedule, new job, etc.)
- A recent move to a new home or changes in your home (new furniture, renovations, etc.)
- A new human or feline family member or absence of one
- Problems with the litter box (medical issue, competition with another cat, etc.)
- Presence of a neighborhood cat on your property
- Need to spay or neuter
Best Tips for Reducing Cat Anxiety
1. Have a Feeding and Play Schedule
Prior to providing food for your cat, play with them for a minimum of 10 minutes. Try to feed your cat around the same time each day. A good play session for about 20 minutes before you leave for work and before bedtime will help your cat relax.
2. Make a Cat Playground
Cats love to explore and interact with their surroundings. Provide window perches and cat trees for your cat to view their home and outdoor surroundings. Have plenty of cat scratching posts made with durable sisal rope and also some additional options such as cardboard scratchers.
Use puzzle feeders and interactive toys that you place around your home only when you leave.
Especially if you have a very busy household with kids or multiple pets, you should have a safe and quiet space for your cat to relax.
3. Make a Hangout Spot Near You
It’s common for cats to want your attention when you’re working on your computer or just about any task that involves paper. Place cat trees next to your work area to minimize their interest in jumping on your work area.
4. Use Multiple Litter Boxes
You should have a minimum of two litter boxes for each cat in your home. If you have more than one cat, your litter boxes should be placed in multiple locations and in areas that are easy for your cats to escape. If there are territory or aggression issues between cats, the cats may feel anxious about getting cornered in a litter box. All litter boxes should be open without a top or front entry door.
Pacing around the litter box, excessive vocalization, or peeing outside the box may be signs that your cat in unhappy with the brand or type of litter, frequency of cleaning, or a medical issue. It may be helpful to provide more than one type of cat litter option to you cat. Some cats may be sensitive to the hardness or texture of some brands or just not like how much it sticks to their feet. A natural pine pellet variety works well or you can try an unscented clay litter that is low in dust.
5. Use a Combination of Calming Aids
Feliway is a product that is used to comfort cats and is often used in vet exam rooms. Feliway uses a synthetic copy of the feline pheromone that helps mom cats bond with their kittens. It’s available as a diffuser that you plug into a wall outlet.
A ThunderShirt wraps around a cat to gently apply pressure. It’s like a constant hug that calms your cat. It has been proven effective in over 80% of cats. Many cat owners that have tried to stop excessive grooming in their cats have found success with a ThunderShirt. Although it can be used daily, it should not be used for more than 5 hours per day. At first, a cat will likely resist the ThunderShirt so you should use it for small amounts of time until the cat adjusts to it. This method will work best if you plan to use it for moving, trips to vet, thunderstorms, or other stressful moments.