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Does Your Cat Suffer From Separation Anxiety? Here Are Some Suggestions

October 30, 2013

If you think your cat suffers from separation anxiety, there may be something to that. Like people, cats need companionship (even if they sometimes seem like loners!), so if you have been working long hours or have been away on a trip, you may notice a change in your cat’s behavior.

Photo courtesy raindog.

These changes can range from being more vocal and clingy to being depressed and avoiding people. Some cats act out by going to the bathroom in inappropriate places, and others may do something else. It’s important to remember this: our cats aren’t angry or feeling vengeful, this is simply how their bodies react when they’re feeling separation anxiety.

If you think this is something your cat experiences, the first step is to take him in to your vet. While separation anxiety can certainly lead to these behavioral changes, so can other medical issues, too. It’s a good idea to get that figured out as soon as you can.

Once that happens, you can do a few things around your home to lessen your cat’s stress level. Also chat to your vet about this, as he may have other suggestions, too!

– Make sure your cat has something to do while you’re not at home. This may mean investing in some new cat toys (or even making your own!), providing a way for your cat to look outside, or finding other ways to keep him mentally stimulated during the day.

– Another idea is to have someone come over during the day to visit him. When I was 10 or so, my neighbor would give me a dollar each day to let her dog out and play with her cats during the day. She would sometimes work long hours, and wanted to make sure her pets’ needs were met while she was gone. Depending on how you feel about your neighbors, you may want to consider something similar.

– Try to schedule in some routine playtime each day. While that may seem like a time commitment you can’t afford, it will likely help in the long run. Your cat will look forward to this dedicated playtime, which can lessen anxiety in the meantime, because he’ll know what to expect.

Photo courtesy Antoinette vd Rieth.

– Some also say that you should avoid a long goodbye before leaving for the day. Snuggling and cuddling with your cat prior to leaving may give your cat the wrong impression that you’ll be around for more snuggling and cuddling, which will only disappoint them when you cut the snuggle/cuddle session short and head out the door. Snuggle when you have some time to devote to it, for example, if you’re watching TV before bed. But if you don’t have much time, like before you leave for work, a short goodbye is best.

– I’ve also heard some say that leaving on a radio during the day can help. Some suggest purchasing an answering machine so you can leave messages for your cat, but others feel that may get your cat’s hopes up when they hear your voice, only to find out you’re not really at home.

– Still others suggest leaving out things that smell like you. For example, if you’re going out of town, your cat may love to sleep on your favorite sweatshirt that smells like you.

– I know it can be difficult, but coming up with a daily routine can also help. It helps your cat better understand what will happen during the day and when, so they know when to expect things like meals, groomings, snuggle sessions and play times.

Think your cat is simply clingy? Here are a few suggestions as to how you can make your cat less dependent on you and more confident.

How have you helped your cat get over his or her separation anxiety? Please share in the comments!

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