Is your cat simply misbehaving to get more attention or is it actually suffering from cat separation anxiety? While cat are know to be independent creatures, they also like to have a steady daily schedule. In the context of many people going back to work in office buildings as pandemic lockdown rules are lifted, a lot of cats will have to deal with their owner’s sudden absence from home.
While some cats will quickly slip back into their pre-pandemic routine of keeping themselves entertained, others may start displaying worrisome symptoms. It is your duty as a responsible cat owner to recognize these symptoms and find the best solution for your cat.
Why Does Cat Separation Anxiety Occur?
In general, cats display anxiety signs when:
- They were taken away from their mom too early and force weaned
- Their favorite caretaker leaves the home or dies
- Lack of stimuli – they get overly attached to you because they have nothing else to do
- A sudden change in their routine – including the end of work from home schedules.
Cats are also very good at picking up vibes from you. Thus, when you are going through a difficult time and feel anxious, your four legged friend may also suffer from anxiety.
The Main Symptoms of Cat Separation Anxiety
Now then, how do you recognize the signs of separation anxiety in cats? Here are some of the most frequently observed symptoms:
- the cat is frequently urinating on your clothes or bed
- they may trash the house (not as badly as a dog, but you will notice the damage)
- vomiting, lack of appetite and other digestive problems
- excessive scratching and grooming, leading to hairless areas or even sores.
Since each cat is unique, you may notice one or several of these symptoms. Once you realize that something is wrong with your cat, talk to your vet. After ruling out other health problems, you can start dealing with cat separation anxiety.
How to Help Your Cat Get over Separation Anxiety
Here are a few effective ways to make your cat less anxious when you are absent from home:
1. Get Your Cat Used to Your Being Absent
Do you know that you will be returning to office soon? Then start preparing your cat. It was used to your presence around the clock, so start getting out for short period of times. For instance, stop shopping online and go to a brick and mortar store to get things you need.
As you take out the trash, take a short walk around the block. Whenever you feel like getting some physical exercise, consider replacing it with a brisk walk instead of using the treadmill at home.
All these will help your cat get used to being home alone.
2. Give Your Cat Challenges While You Are Away
If a cat is properly fed and entertained, it will not feel anxious. Thus, you should prepare a few activities for it to do while you are away. One of the simplest is a kibble trail leading to its favorite toys.
If your cat is more active and enjoys challenges, consider creating a treasure hunt map around the house for its food, with various obstacles and clues, in the form of its favorite treats.
3. Put On Soothing Cat Music
Music for the cats? Does such a thing exist? It actually does. This set of tracks is especially composed to calm down cats and help them feel safe and content. Who knows, you may even enjoy it yourself!
Alternately, you may leave the radio on. Many cats find the background noise of human voices relaxing – especially if you were working from home and talking to your colleagues a lot over video conference software.
4. Create More Hiding Places for Your Cat
Your furry friend may be able to deal with cat anxiety separation on its own, provided it has sufficient hiding places. This is how cats deal with stress – they hide away and stay there until they feel confident and safe.
5. Do Not Be Overly Dramatic When You Leave Home
Last but not least, you may unwittingly trigger cat separation anxiety. It happens because you try to be overly affectionate when you have to leave home. Do not spend a lot of time cuddling your cat and saying good-bye.
Instead, just act normally, make a small hand wave and walk out without other gestures. Your cat will soon go back to its routine, without feeling lost in your absence.