Can cats have anxiety? Just like humans, cats can experience stress and anxiety but it may not be so simple to identify as cats typically hide physical and mental discomfort. Understanding cat anxiety symptoms and knowing how to manage it is important to keeping your cat happy and healthy.
Cat Anxiety Symptoms
- New destructive behaviors (ex. scratching furniture)
- Excessive grooming
- Loss of appetite
- Litter box aversion
- Increased vocalization
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Causes of Cat Anxiety
- Family changes (ex. new baby)
- New pets
- Change in routine
- Presence of outdoor cats
- Competition with other indoor cats
How to Manage Cat Anxiety & Symptoms
Always consult with your veterinarian first to rule out any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your cat’s change in behavior or habits.
If your cat gets a clean bill of health from the vet, work to identify the potential causes of stress or anxiety and think back to when your cat started experiencing symptoms. Has your work schedule or personal routine changed lately where you’re away from home more or at different times than usual? Have you brought home a new baby or pet? Have there been new visitors in your home? Do you live in an area with a large population of roaming outdoor cats?
Keep to a Consistent & Reliable Routine
Keeping things consistent for your cat is key in making them feel more comfortable. Try feeding them at the same time each day, cleaning the litter box at least once a day, and scheduling play time at a certain time. Don’t move their favorite toys or change their favorite blankets. Sticking to a routine can make your cat feel more confident and calm.
Offer Mental Stimulation
Provide mental stimulation for your cat to keep them occupied. This could be an interactive toy for when you’re gone, play time when you’re home, or simply setting up an accessible window seat for them to look out.
If You Have More Than One Cat
If you have more than one cat in your home, make sure they each have their own things. For example, if you have 2 cats, have at least 2 litter boxes, multiple beds, multiple water bowls, and multiple scratching posts or perches. By providing more than 1 option, your cats won’t feel like they have to fight or compete for these resources which could cause stress.
Provide a Designated Hiding Spot
Be sure to offer a designated hiding spot or place of comfort for your cat and don’t disturb them. Cats spend a majority of their lives sleeping and having a safe resting place they can go to can help reduce stress and anxiety. Cat trees or other perches are a great option for cats who prefer to go vertical, while beds or boxes in an out of the way spot in bedrooms or closets can be helpful for cats who aren’t so keen on jumping or climbing.
Remove Potential Triggers That Can Cause Upset
If you frequently see outdoor cats roaming around your yard or neighborhood, this could be a stress trigger for your cat if they see or sense them. Don’t place food or shelter too close to your house and close the curtains during the day so your cat can’t see out.
Cat Calming Products
Cat calming products are an option but should be used in tandem with other efforts. There are supplements, sprays, diffusers, and plug-ins as options to help manage your cat’s anxiety. Be sure to talk to your vet about what’s best and safest for your cat.