Although separation anxiety is common in dogs, cats also develop stress when left by their caregivers. A cat that is uncomfortable being left alone by their owner will sometimes urinate or poop outside the litter box. They may even go ahead and pee on the parent’s bed.
Another way a cat shows anxiety is by yowling or crying excessively. Some will destroy your things for example claw on curtains, eat up your shoes or topple over house plants. This is common in male cats while female cats will groom excessively.
An anxious cat may also show signs of hyper-attachment where they seek constant contact with their human when together.
Cats that live strictly indoors and have only one adult caregiver are more likely to have separation anxiety syndrome. It is heightened if the cat does not have other pets at home. A change in routine also raises their anxiety. For instance, a change in ownership, moving to a new home, or a radical change in the owner’s schedule.
There are a few modifications that you can do to relieve a cat’s separation anxiety. Get them engaging toys to keep them busy while you are away.
Remain calm when leaving and coming back home and wait until your cat is calm and quiet to give them attention. Ignore any attention-seeking behaviour whenever possible. This is a form of behaviour modification aimed at getting the cat to have coping skills and to change their emotional response to stressful situations.
How you reinforce this behaviour is constantly rewarding the cat when they show signs of being in a relaxed state such as lying down, having a loose and still tail and closing their eyes. That way, they learn that good behaviour is rewarded and thus will strive to be calm.
A consistent routine is good for calming a cat. Try to maintain a regular routine to help keep the anxiety away.
Maryanne is a pet owner. [email protected]