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Cat Anxiety: A Comprehensive Guide

  •  Cats of all ages and breeds experience anxiety, although older cats experience it more often.
  • House soiling, hiding, excessive grooming, hair loss, or shaking are all signs of a behavioral disorder.
  • Cats can become anxious if their normal routine or environment is disrupted.
  • Anxiety in cats may be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian or behaviorist.
  • Behavior modification, medication, or a combination of all three may be used as part of treatment.

When a cat is worried, it will let its owners know by making a lot of noise. In the human mind, it's simple to misunderstand signals and overlook what's really going on.

Cats have a tendency to be anxious. 20% to 25% of feline patients are treated by veterinarians for anxiety symptoms. In addition to the cat's sadness, people may also be affected by signs such as spraying outside the litter box, constant meowing, hostility, or hiding. When anxiety is not addressed, it has the potential to result in major health conditions, such as skin and digestive disorders.

At this point, veterinarians and animal behaviorists are more equipped than ever to deal with feline stress, behavior, and medical problems. To help you identify the indications of anxiety, de-escalate troublesome behaviors and return to a healthy, happy cat, here is what you need to know:

Sad cat

Cat Anxiety: What Is It?

This typical, healthy short-term stress reaction is activated when a cat perceives a danger, allowing her to either fight or run. With anxiety, the cat's mind and body are caught in a condition of expecting a harmful or unpleasant circumstance, and this fight-or-flight reaction is prolonged. Anxiety may have a negative impact on a cat's physical health and well-being over time.

Situational and generalized cat anxiety are the two most common kinds of cat anxiety. Situational anxiety arises when a person's anxiety is triggered by a particular scenario, such as being left alone at home, being in a vehicle, or seeing a veterinarian. It's the most prevalent one, says Sara Ochoa, an exotic and small animal veterinarian at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital. While they're at home, cats "are connected to their humans like velcro, continually following them around the house and trying to be near them," she adds. After that, "they may be hiding or trashing furniture, or even compulsively licking themselves, when their owners are no longer around."

There is a permanent state of worry in a cat with generalized anxiety, and the nervous behaviors occur regardless of where or who they are with.

What Are the Signs of Cat Anxiety?

It is common for anxiety to manifest itself in aberrant behaviors, such as excessive clinginess or vomiting. It's possible for cats to become frightened and hide, or even aggressive toward other pets and people in the house—even their favorite humans.

In addition to pacing, excessive grooming, or tail-chasing, anxiety-inducing behaviors like these may also be seen.

Anxiety is often accompanied by symptoms of pain, disease, or other medical issues. In all three cases, medical treatment is required to find the root problem.

Other cat anxiety signs include:
  • Use of the litter box is not being followed.
  • Vocalization has risen significantly.
  • Disappearance and obscurity
  • Trembling
  • Behavior that is harmful or violent.
  • Taking a back seat
  • Clinginess
  • Attempting to flee
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pacing
  • Over-grooming-induced sores or hair loss
  • Appetite shifts
  • Alterations in the way you sleep
While a person suffers from separation anxiety, these actions are more likely to take place when they are alone. With their owner around, worried cats might be either clinging or fully normal.

It's typical for individuals to believe that their cats' anxiety-related actions are an act of revenge against them, says Dr. Megan Teiber, a veterinarian at Indian Prairie Animal Hospital in Aurora, Ill., where she works. This is why it is so important for cat owners to be aware of their cat's behavior, especially when it comes to urinating on their beds. To put it another way, "It's doubtful cats think this way; it's more probable they're acting out of fear."

How can a cat become anxious?

Like humans, cats are susceptible to a wide range of anxiety-inducing situations.

The most prevalent causes of anxiety in cats include:

  • Disconnection from a loved one
  • adding another person or animal to one's household
  • Moving into a new house or rearranging the furniture
  • Routines in the home have changed.

Because of the effects of aging on the brain, older cats seem to be somewhat more prone to anxiety.

Cats' large cat relatives may assist us understand why they feel anxiety in cats. According to Dr. John Bradshaw, an animal behavior specialist and author of the New York Times bestseller "Cat Sense," they were "autonomous and concerned more with the security of their territory than with their relationships to people or other cats, precisely the reverse of dogs," in the wild.

It is possible for contemporary, domesticated cats to have behavioral issues when they feel threatened in their territory or security.

Cats, in general, are sensitive to environmental changes. It is common for people to identify triggers like a new baby or a house relocation. Cats, especially those that live in families with several cats, may be extremely sensitive to seemingly little changes, such as relocating the litter box a few feet.

An aging brain, previous trauma, or an underlying sickness or suffering may all contribute to feline anxiety. Stress and/or fear from these reasons can also contribute to feline anxiety. Chronically stressed cats are also more likely to have a lack of socializing as kittens. Fearful and nervous adults are more probable if kittens aren't introduced to new people, pets, and environments throughout their first two to three months of life.

Anxiety in cats may be caused by a variety of circumstances, some of which are listed below:

  • The inability to leave the confines of one's own home
  • Noises of a certain kind.
  • Veterinary care on the road
  • Problems with the commode's litter box (position, number of litter boxes, type of litter)
  • Lack of exposure to new people, places, and animals as a child
  • Dementia is a result of age-related changes in the brain.
  • traumatizing incidents or injuries.
  • a feeling of discomfort or bad health

Cat Anxiety Diagnosis

what natural remedy can i give my cat for anxiety, what can you give a cat for anxiety

Your veterinarian will examine your cat thoroughly and inquire about your cat's behavior and any recent dietary or environmental alterations.

Anxiety in cats cannot be diagnosed with a test. Any underlying medical disorders with anxiety-like symptoms may be ruled out through radiographs, blood tests, or urine tests ordered by your veterinarian. Overgrooming may indicate a skin allergy, while abnormalities in the cat's litter box behaviors may be the result of an illness of the bladder or gastrointestinal tract. It is common for a cat in pain to display indications of anxiousness as well.

If nothing is wrong, the vet may start making suggestions to help calm your cat's nervousness.

Anti-anxiety medication for cats

Angry Cat

Cat anxiety may be treated in a variety of methods, including behavioral training, medicine or supplements, and environmental enrichment, or a combination of these treatments. An unique treatment plan tailored to you and your cat's needs will be devised by the veterinarian.

It's best to eliminate the trigger, if it's feasible to do so, if you can establish what's making your cat anxious. Cats who are fighting should be separated until you can get a grasp on their behavior, for example.

Positive reinforcement tactics, such as play, rewards, or praise, might be recommended by a trainer or behaviorist to lessen undesirable nervous behaviors and reward beneficial actions. Depending on the type of anxiety, different methods of training are employed. Therapy in general consists of rewarding the cat for keeping calm when they are exposed to a weak form of the trigger. Each time the cat stays quiet, a stronger or longer trigger is used, and the rewards continue.

Punishing a cat for anxiety-related problem behaviors is universally discouraged by veterinarians and behaviorists. Consequences will simply serve to reinforce her fears and worsen the situation by rewarding the undesirable behavior.

In order to assist cats relax and comply to a behavior plan, veterinarians may prescribe prescription drugs or over-the-counter supplements.

It is possible that some cats may not benefit from supplements or drugs, which might induce sleepiness or diarrhea. To discover what works best, your veterinarian may have to go through a period of trial and error. In most cases, anxiety can be controlled rather than cured. For worried cats, it might take months and a lot of effort to find the appropriate management strategy. Talk to your vet about your worries in the future.

Cat Anxiety Treatments Available Over-the-Counter

When a cat rubs its face against a person or item to mark it as a safe and secure part of its territory, it produces relaxing odors that are similar to those created by synthetic feline facial pheromone.

This pheromone is accessible without a prescription as a spray, a collar, or a diffuser. Diffusers are best used in tiny confined spaces. The spray is meant to be sprayed over textile things, such as a travel carrier's towel, to help soothe your cat.

There is evidence that L-theanine, an over the counter supplement that has been demonstrated to aid cats and dogs cope with stress and anxiety, may be beneficial for pets. Muscle relaxation, greater sleep quality, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and cognitive advantages are all linked to L-Theanine, an amino acid. Cat food and treats containing this supplement may be purchased over-the-the-counter in the form of a tablet or as an ingredient.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an over-the-counter vitamin that may help certain cats relax. Clinginess and aggressiveness may be reduced by supplementing with L-tryptophan, an amino acid. A tablet or an ingredient in specially made cat food may be purchased without a prescription.

A nutritional supplement called alpha-casozepine is available over the counter for cats to help calm their fears, anxieties, and aggressiveness. There is no need for a prescription for the alpha-casozepine tablet or special cat food or treat that include this peptide, which is connected to milk.

Cat anxiety may be treated with complementary treatments like as massage or acupuncture. There isn't much proof that these medications benefit cats with this condition, but they're safe and worth a try.

Scientific research on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in cats is sparse, despite the rising availability of CBD-based treatments. In light of the lack of regulation around nutritional supplements, always consult your veterinarian before making a purchase decision.

The Use of Prescription Drugs to Treat Cat Anxiety

The tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) medicine amitriptyline (Elavil, Levate) is used to treat anxiety disorders in cats and dogs, including separation anxiety and other behavioral problems. Only a veterinarian may prescribe this medication, and it must be used alongside a behavior modification program.

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as clomipramine (Anafranil, Clomicalm), are a class of medication (TCA). In dogs, Clomicalm is licensed by the FDA for the treatment of separation anxiety. Veterinarian supervision and a behavior-modification program should be employed whenever this medicine is prescribed.

Antidepressant Fluoxetine (Prozac): Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) (SSRI). Separation anxiety in dogs may be treated with Reconcile, an FDA-approved fluoxetine medication. This is the most often recommended drug for cats with urinary incontinence and anxiety. Under the guidance of a veterinarian and in combination with a behavioral modification program, it should always be used.

When traveling or receiving medical treatment, veterinarians may prescribe the seizure and neurologic pain reliever Gabapentin to calm cats' anxiety and discomfort. A veterinarian should always be consulted before using this product.

Humans often refer to Alprazolam (Xanax) as the benzodiazepine, a kind of medicine that operates on the brain and nerves to generate a relaxing effect. Vets sometimes prescribe alprazolam to treat anxiety or phobias in cats and dogs even though it is only FDA-approved for human usage. Veterinarian supervision and a behavior-modification program should be employed whenever this medicine is prescribed.

Patience is a virtue that must be practiced throughout the course of any therapy. Solving most behavioral issues might take some time. It is important to treat the problem as quickly as possible, though.

The Price of Cat Anxiety Treatment

How much it will cost to treat your cat's anxiety will depend on what's causing it, how long it takes, and what tests are required to rule out other conditions.

Exams, drugs, and behavioral training may cost hundreds of dollars for cats with anxiety.

  • $50 to $75 for a medical exam
  • From $25 to $300 for diagnostic testing
  • Treatment: $30-$60 monthly
  • Behaviorist or trainer: $50-$300 per session
  • A wide range of goods, from $25 to $200, are available for purchase.

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