By Cuddla | Cat

Cat anxiety: how to calm your cat’s anxious behaviour

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Dogs and cats are social creatures who get lonely and bored when forced to stay alone for long stretches. There are different scenarios when your pet can suffer from anxiety, the most common one is when they are home alone. 

However, being home alone is not the only situation that causes stress for our furry friends.

Cat anxiety signs

The top three stress trigger for their dogs are:

  1. Moving house.
  2. Welcoming a new house member (read more at Introducing your pet to your baby).
  3. Fireworks noise.

How to calm your cat’s anxiety

Here are some tips to calm your cat’s anxiety when they are alone at home:

#1 – Toys and treats

When you leave your cat at home alone, leave a treat-release toy for him to focus on in your absence or place small treats around the house for him to discover, along with his favourite toys.

#2 – A companion reminder

Leave him with an article of clothing or blanket with your scent on it.

#3 – Some music

Play calm, soothing music or sounds before a possible stressor occurs. This may relax your cat and have the added bonus of drowning out distressing noises.

#4 – A massage

Massaging your cat and talking softly can help. However, Ttouch is a specific massage technique that can help anxious pets. Tellington TTouch is a gentle, positive method for training and healing companion animals. It has the power to reshape a pet’s behaviour through kindness and understanding.

#5 – A herbal infusion

Calming herbs that can be of benefit include ashwagandha and chamomile. Consult your holistic veterinarian about which makes sense for your pet.

#6 – Lavender essential oil

The essential oil of lavender has also been proven to reduce a cat’s stress response. You can place two drops on your cat’s collar or bedding before a stressor occurs. Otherwise, you can use a diffuser around your house for an overall calming effect.

#7 – Cat care options

  • Cat daycare. If your cat enjoys interacting and playing with other cats, you can enrol your pet in kitty daycare once or twice a week.
  • Cat sitter. Ask a stay-at-home family member or friend to cat-sit. Perhaps you can offer the person something they need in return, such as pet or babysitting services.

#8 – Working from home

Depending on the kind of work you do, working from home might be an option. See if your employer will let you work from home some or all of the time.

#9 – Talking your cat to work

Another alternative would be to bring your pet to work. Find out if you can bring your dog to work with you. Again, this depends on your job requirements and company policy.

For more information, check our pets at work section on pet benefits article.

#10 – Come home for lunch

Finally, if your workplace is close enough, consider returning home at lunchtime to spend some time interacting with your cat.

Other stressing situations for cats

There are many things that can potentially stress out our furry companions… including us. However, a lot of cat owners don’t realize they are doing things or behaving in ways that create stress for their pet.

Nevertheless, there are so many stress triggers in your cat that can be avoided. Simply make sure that you are clearly communicating with your furry family member.

And here is the list of stress triggers for cats:

#1 – Punishing your cat

Hitting your cat only teaches him to fear your approach. Moreover, telling him “no” only interrupts the behaviour momentarily. Instead, reward his appropriate behaviour every time. Cats are very curious and agile—so give your kitty places to go and things to do, and keep potentially dangerous items away.

#2 – Assuming she “knows” English

Pets communicate using body language and they are very good at figuring us out. Cats can be easy to train to do behaviours on cue. Just don’t assume your cat understands what you’re saying without teaching it what you want her to do first.

#3 – Grabbing his head to tousle his hair

Nobody likes to have their head grabbed and rubbed— cats are no different! Most cats prefer a few long strokes from head to tail; others prefer a small amount of gentle scratching around the chin or ears. Many cats get irritated by an extended period of repetitive stroking.

#4 – Holding her while you hug or kiss her

Cats like to be able to move and escape situations. When we hold them tightly, they may become stressed, anticipating that something bad is going to happen.

#5 – Not cleaning your cat’s litter box

Nobody likes to use a dirty toilet—including your cat. Imagine not flushing your own toilet for three or four days! Ideally, the litter box should be scooped every time you notice waste. Otherwise, they should be scooped

#6 – Putting your cat’s litter box is in an inconvenient location

The spot you’ve chosen for the litter box might work best for you. However, if your cat has to juggle all family members, other pets, stairs, or loud appliances to get there. The journey might feel like is a suicide mission to him every time he needs to eliminate.

#7 – Don’t tease if you cannot handle bites and scratches

If you tempt your cat to play by wiggling your fingers or toes, then don’t get angry when she bites or scratches you. Remember that cats naturally grab “prey” using their teeth and claws.

Alternately, offer her appropriate chewing toys so it knows that hands are for petting, not biting!

#8 – Not leaving enough food when you go away

Imagine you leave your cat home alone with a jumbo-sized portion of food and one litter box while you go on vacation for a long weekend. Especially for cats that eat quickly, this can be stressful because they’ll have no food left by the end of the weekend.

Since cats can become sick if they don’t eat every day, timed feeders can be helpful in this situation. Also, a self-cleaning litter box may also be a reasonable option.

However, it might be best to consider a pet sitter or a pet hotel.

#9 – Using strong-smelling products

Strong-smelling cleansers, deodorizers, and products containing alcohol can be offensive to your cat since cats’ noses are sensitive.

So, be careful about the use of these products in your home or on yourself. Some cats may even find the smell of hair spray, perfume, or cologne unpleasant. For further information, read our pet-friend home post.

#10 – Not introducing new family members to your kitty

When an unrelated cat appears and tries to join a related group, it’s in the cats’ nature to attack and force the outsider to leave. Without a proper period of controlled, gradual introduction, the chance of aggression between cats and stress increases.

When the new member of the family is a baby, read our blog post about introducing your pet to your baby.

For more about other remedies for kitties, read natural remedies for cats.

P.S.: If you want to know more about cat parenting, discover more at First Time Cat Owners.

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