Luckily, felines are not overly prone to suffering from cat separation anxiety. However, it does seem to be on the rise. Reasons for this could be the fact that we tend to leave our cats contained within our homes while we are away. They no longer have the freedom to make their own fun, get exercise and relieve any cat stress and boredom.
Simply put – it is when a cat is suffering from stress at being left alone. Owners assume that their cat will be happy shut up on their own all day, and on the whole they are usually OK. Most cats will learn to sleep almost the whole time their owners are away (did I mention cats love to sleep?).
But still, purely indoors cats need to have some form of entertainment available to them at all times, to keep them stimulated and entertained.
Understanding cat behavior, especially if it seems inappropriate to you, can be difficult. But try and look at it from the cat’s point of view if you can. He wants your company, he needs your company, he is alone, he is bored, nothing much is happening…
Some problems that may arise, will be that the occasional cat turns destructive and often the cause is simply boredom. You need to understand that the cat is not meaning to damage your things purposefully, but he is merely doing something he finds interesting and stimulating.
A bored, home-alone cat may find solace in having a friend for companionship. If you are away from home all day, and your cat is showing signs of cat separation anxiety, consider getting another pet. What sort of pet would depend on your cats personality, but it need not be another cat – maybe a small breed dog? You will need to choose carefully,though, as you do not want a small problem to turn into a larger one!
Any additional pet must take into account your own cat. He may be a loner by nature and would not be interested in sharing his home and people with any competition at all. Or he may detest other felines, whereas most cats will normally accept a canine friend, as long as they are introduced carefully and the dog is of a decent , non-overbearing nature.
If you are unable to add to the animal part of your family, there are still other things that you can try to stop cat separation anxiety symptoms. Here is a list of some things that other cat owners dealing with an anxiety cat have found to be of help:
Make sure you have some decent, specifically designed cat furniture. Cats love to climb and to sleep up high. If you don’t have one, think about providing your cat with a large and interesting cat tree. One with interesting hidey holes, perches, tunnels and hammocks is great. Interesting angles, different heights and the need to climb and leap to reach the top will make sure your cat gets a good amount of exercise and stretches those muscles.
Hang toys from different places on the scratching pole, but make sure the string is not elastic (for safety) and also that it is not long enough for the cat to get it caught around any part of his body. I have found that attaching toys onto the ends of long springs and fixing these to the scratching poles works really well for keeping cats entertained. The best places to stick your toys are where the cat has great difficulty in reaching them – thus enticing them to use their mind and more of their muscles whilst trying to maneuver to get the toy. And change these toys around often, hang them from a different place.
If you have enough room, then a cat tree furniture unit in more than one room would be great. You will find that the cat will play all over one, then run to the other and do the same.
Rub some catnip onto the surfaces of the cat tree. Most cats love catnip, and find extreme ecstasy in rubbing all over it. However catnip does not affect all cats and yours may simply ignore it. But it is worth a try.
Occasionally, just before you leave the house, lay the scratching post on it’s side (if it is not too heavy). Cats thrive on change, they LOVE change! What was his common old scratching post now becomes a brand new place to explore. You can add to the excitement by draping an old blanket, some towels or some carpet mats over it. Wow!, your cat will probably not even notice that you have gone!
Some people try placing mirrors around the house at cat height. This may work and is often hilarious in the first couple of minutes. But honestly, cats are not stupid and they will very quickly realize it is simply their own reflection and then just ignore mirrored reflections in a short period of time.
There are great cat toys available that can help relieve cat stress. Some have been specially designed for anxiety cat type problems. One of these is the Catit Senses – The Catit Play Circuit Cat Toy. You might like to check this one out because it is a fantastic toy for relieving cat anxiety.
A couple of my own cats seriously enjoy a ping-pong ball in the bathtub. Most ignore it, but I have a couple who will honestly spend a hour in there – making noises like you wouldn’t believe. In fact ping-pong balls are great anyway. Batting them all around the floor is very stimulating. They are light and bounce and move fast. The only problem is that they normally get batted into a corner or under furniture – very quickly.
The same thing goes for little balls with bells in them. The cats love them but they get lost very quickly. You can also buy weighted balls that wobble in silly directions when your cat bats them. These often last well, as they never behave as the cat expects – this is intriguing to them and they will come back for more. They also seem to not get lost or trapped under things quite as quickly as the fast moving balls do.
Leave some cardboard boxes of different sizes around the house. We use large, empty boxes from the shopping and cut holes in them just big enough for either paws, or for the whole cat. Drop in a rattly ball or two as well. Great fun!
Keep safety in mind here, you do not want to make a hole that is a tight fit for your cat’s head. He may get his head in and not be able to get it out, or get it jammed around his tummy, stuck there until you come home to save him. Not good for relieving cat stress!
If you have any spare carpet mats, try rolling one into a cylinder and placing it on the floor for a cat tunnel. Tie some string around it so it can’t unroll. You can either wedge it in one place or leave it in the middle of the room. Believe me it will not be in the same place when you come home! If it is long enough, you can place it on an angle, like one end up on the couch and the other end down on the floor. Your cat will claw at it, spring onto it, and probably claw it all over the place. I have never met a cat that did not just adore a rolled up carpet tunnel!
If you have a look at all the different cat toys that are available, I am sure you will find many that will help to keep your cat-at-home entertained while you are away. I have some of the most popular listed here: The Best Cat Toys and you can read some reviews from cat owners who have bought them.
Safety: With any cat toy you should make sure there are no small bits that can be ingested or broken off. Just as with your children’s toys, you need to keep an eye on them to make sure they are safe and stay safe with use.
With your special cat toys, rotate them, hide some and bring them out a week later, swap them around for the new toy effect all over again.
If after trying all of the above, nothing works and you are still trying to figure out just how to stop cat separation anxiety in your kitty, you might like to look into the Feliway spray. This is a specific natural pheromone diffuser that helps with feline emotional problems.
I have not used a Feliway diffuser myself, but many people report that it works very well for any form of anxiety in cats. It is also widely recommended by veterinarians, many of whom use it in their surgeries – which is a pretty good endorsement.
There is also an excellent homeopathic remedy available that has been highly reviewed, and seems to work very well on most cats. Since cats are very susceptible to homeopathy, this is certainly worth a try where all else has failed. You can find info on this natural treatment here: Natural Anxiety Relief for cats
Hopefully some of the above tips will help with any anxiety cat behavior and symptoms and you can live happily in harmony with your stress-free, satisfied and happy cat!