Humans are well acquainted with the signs of stress and anxiety. Our high-paced world and technology that makes it impossible to unplug from our jobs lead to headaches, depression, digestive problems, nervous behavior and lack of sleep. But do cats have anxiety similar to human anxiety, and can it be prevented? Yes, and yes!
What to Watch For
You may be noticing some strange behaviors in your cat but be confused as to the cause or what to do about it. The important thing is not to ignore signals that your cat may be struggling with stress. The trigger could be environmental, physical or psychological in nature. Possible signs of anxiety are:
- Change in appetite or weight
- Compulsive behaviors or excessive grooming
- Aggressive behavior
- Lethargy or depression
- New destructive behaviors
- Urinating or defecating outside the litter box
- Excessive vocalizing
If your cat is showing signs of stress and anxiety, a trip to the vet is important to rule out any medical problems. If there are no physical problems, you’ll want to investigate possible psychological or environmental causes.
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Similarities to Human Anxiety
Being stressed and anxious is unsettling and unpleasant. If you feel your cat’s struggle is psychological, tune in to his emotions, relate them to your emotions and work hard at helping your cat find relief. As with human anxiety, without intervention your cat’s immune system can become compromised, he may become severely depressed and/or develop destructive behaviors. The key is identifying and removing the cause of the stress and relieving his anxiety.
Causes of Cat Anxiety
Since cats can’t communicate with us, determining the source of their anxiety is a difficult task. Here are some possible causes of anxiety with cats. Does anything relate to your cat’s situation?
- Separation from family
- Lack of exercise/play
- Fear (of noises, other cats, people, objects, etc.)
- Inadequate nutrition
- Health problem or pain
- Changes in daily routine
- Inadequate living quarters
- Loss or the addition of a family member or pet
Prevention and Treatment
You can minimize stress and anxiety in your cat’s life in a variety of ways. Making your cat’s well-being a priority is the first step. Start by reworking your cat’s mental wheels by introducing some new toys or games. Other ideas – grow some catnip or cat grass, toss out a cat nip toy, add a new scratching post, play games with a laser pointer. The exercise and renewed playfulness will help remind your cat of better times. Devote more time to emotional support, giving him more of your time and love. Nurture his body by providing high-quality cat food, nutritious treats, fresh water and a cozy shelter.
Treating your cat’s anxiety is a long process. Persistence will help your cat find relief. By eliminating any medical issues, resolving any environmental issues and enriching your cat’s life with all the essentials, your cat is in the best position of healing. Adding a non-prescription supplement such as Calming soft chews during this process can also alleviate the feeling of anxiousness.
In the case where your cat may be experiencing serious struggles with past traumatic events, you may need the help of a veterinary behaviorist or anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
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