Mental health is a concern for all pet owners, so we have compiled a list of the 10 top causes of cat anxiety.
Top 10 Causes Of Cat Anxiety
Most people love their pets enough to put a lot of effort into their health and wellbeing by taking care of the basics like food, warmth, and shelter, but new information shows that focusing on your pets mental health is equally important. Cats especially (as their owners will confirm), show a wide range of emotions and can even have troubling mood swings. They can act nervously at times or even become destructive. It might interest you to know that this can be a sign of cat anxiety. No one knows your beloved friend as you do, and if you’ve observed any worrying behaviour, you should be asking yourself, “Is my cat stressed out?” and, if so, “what can I do about it?”
Here are the top 10 causes of your furry companion’s angst.
1. Illness Or Pain
This is the most worrisome to consider but it should be the first. Cat’s are susceptible to all kinds of illnesses, like cancer, diabetes, and parasites. More species-specific ailments include feline immunodeficiency, feline leukaemia, virus, heartworms, ringworms, and the list goes on. They may be acting out from pain or as a sign that they need help, and even if there are no obvious signs of an injury it’s a good idea to schedule a visit with a veterinarian to determine the reason for your cats changes in behaviour.
2. Trauma Leading To PTSD
Post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t limited to humans, and it could be a cause of cat anxiety. Fear after a traumatic event, like an injury or shock can make cats seem shy and withdrawn or the opposite may happen and your cat shows signs of aggression should they feel scared and defensive. The loss of a family member or another pet in the home can also lead to a stage of depression where your pet clearly shows signs of “grieving”.
At this time, comfort your pet. Give them lots of love and assurances. They will understand your tone of voice and your gentleness with them and it will help them feel loved and secure.
3. Secluded Kittenhood
We know children require an involved childhood around others to develop social skills, and cats are no different. The socialization period for kittens should occur at 7 to 12 weeks of age in which they become accustomed to people, the world, smells, sounds, and how to adapt to it all to live a productive life as an adorable kitty! Your cat’s anxiety could be because of a secluded kittenhood where they were unable to play, bond and integrate with their siblings. The best thing to do in that situation is to make them as comfortable as possible with fewer surprises in their environment and they will learn to trust you without fear. Play with them a lot so they will not feel lonely or bored and this will stimulate their minds to become more playful and bond with you better.
4. Separation Anxiety
This occurs when you have a close bond with your cat. They love you and they love being with you but do not understand that we have work commitments and simply must leave them at home when we go about our day to day affairs. This can be stressful for your cat as they are unable to grasp the concept of being left alone especially a cat who has been abandoned before or has had multiple owners.
You have become a comfort to them, and when you leave they could worry you may never come back. It would be best to continue giving them plenty of love, praise and attention, but also add some new toys and other curiosities for when they’re home alone. A simple cardboard box has proved itself a favourite distraction.
If you are going on holiday or away for a few days DO NOT leave your cat home alone. This is dangerous and irresponsible. Ask a family member or friend to drop by at a certain time once or twice daily to feed and play with your cat, topping up fresh water daily too. It may be wise to arrange a cat sitter in this instance who will come by and look after your cats needs. Cat sitting usually allows 20 minutes for a play session daily.
5. New Faces
Social circles and the family structure are genetically ingrained into your cat, and a sudden introduction of visitors, new faces or extended guests might be what causes your cat to feel anxious. This change in their routine should be considered carefully as cats don’t like sudden changes to their lifestyle. Observe their behaviour closely and ask yourself, “Is my cat becoming stressed out by these new faces?”
You can try repeating certain behaviours that will announce when someone is coming over beforehand, like praising your cat and reassuring them or letting your guest give treats to your whiskered soulmate may make them more comfortable.
6. New Scents
The limits of the human nose can make this harder to pin down sometimes, but you could be bringing a new smell into the house that causes your cat’s anxiety. Candles, incense sticks and room sprays might not suit your pet’s tastes, cause eye, nose and throat irritation and cause them to show their disapproval by acting out or becoming reclusive. The scent of another animal could do the same and cause your cat to feel anxious and territorial. This could also encourage “spraying” or “marking” around the home.
Spraying should be cleaned thoroughly to remove any smells and windows opened daily to ensure there is plenty of fresh air circulating throughout the home.
7. Loud Noises
We all know to keep our pets in on Bonfire night as the noise of the fireworks can frighten them badly. As cats have very acute hearing, these types of loud bangs can terrify your cat causing them to jump and dart for cover. Many cats are lost running away from loud and sudden noises. If you know there are going to be loud noises like fireworks or marching bands in your area, please keep your cats indoors with preferably some soothing music on in the home to help with anxiety.
If you have multiple cats, a real live The Lion King drama could be playing out in their world. While cats can live together quite easily, they tend to be independent from each other too. The older the cat the more they seem to think they have dominancy over the others so this may cause cat fights and stress within the home. While hormone diffusers help the situation to an extent, it is important that each cat has their own belongings and space and spending quality time with their human would go a long way towards a happy cat home.
9. Schedule Changes
What causes your cat’s anxiety could be from changes to their normal routine. They count on dependable schedules for sleep, play, and feeding time. Again, they don’t understand your new job or friends showing up unexpectedly, so be especially aware of their behaviour and ask yourself, “Is my cat stressed out from the disruption to their routine?”
If you see signs of stress take steps to rectify them. Turn the music down, put your cats in another room, ask guests to remove their shoes, lower their voices, play calming music etc
Independence is a much-talked-about feline trait, and sometimes they just want some space. Similar to you when you were a teenager, your cat’s anxiety could be coming from too much love or handling. Try to learn what they want and have play-time when they initiate it. Too many carry and kiss sessions may irritate your cat and they may eventually give you a little swipe or bite that would hurt your feelings. You have been warned.
Anti-Anxiety Cat Beds For Better Pet Mental Health
As cat owners we want to ensure they are living the happiest, most comfortable lives we can give them, free from stress, worries and illness. Many causes of cat anxiety have a common theme in that the cat needs calm, stability, and a safe haven as a means of comfort. That’s why we make the Anti-Anxiety Calming Cat Donut Bed, designed as a soothing, dependable, therapeutic resort for cats to get away from the stresses of the world and enjoy their favourite activity – napping! It will promote positive mental health and they’ll love you for it, so check them and our other great products out at the Premium Cat Supplies store.