Does your cat have a tendency to get nervous or stressed? Use these simple tips to calm her down!
Anxiety in our furry pals comes in numerous forms. It can be caused by certain events or noises like thunderstorms or even a change in the environment. Cat anxiety can also be caused by the introduction of another pet in the house or other significant changes in your life. Unfortunately, determining the exact cause of stress is almost impossible. If your kitty is sensitive, even simple things like a new laundry detergent scent, new furniture or moving boxes can set your feline pal off!
Recognizing the signs
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety in cats include hiding, aggressiveness, not using the litter box and excessive licking. Some cats pant or have dilated pupils when anxious. Most of these symptoms that cause a change in behavior can also be due to pain or elevated thyroid hormones, so be sure to consult your vet if they persist. Once any health issues are ruled out, try calming your feline pal down with these solutions:
1. Offer some calming supplements
There are numerous calming supplements available for cats. Even if the supplement you choose doesn’t cure your pet’s anxiety fully, it can be a great addition to a more comprehensive behaviour modification program. Calming cat treats can also come in handy when dealing with an anxious cat. These snacks have specific ingredients that support cats’ nervous systems.
2. Double down on training
Instead of taking your cat out of a stressful situation, you can help her adapt to whatever is causing the stress. For example, if the vacuum cleaner is the leading source of stress, teach your feline pal to associate this device with positive reinforcement. You can put her favorite food or treat near the vacuum when it’s off until she learns to approach the device on her own. When she’s used to it, try turning the vacuum on while your partner or friend plays with her across the room. Eventually, your pet will learn to associate the sound or presence of the vacuum cleaner with a good thing. This process is referred to as counterconditioning.
3. Distract with quality time
If the anxiety is caused by something transient, you can distract your cat using her favorite toy. If your cat loves cuddling, cuddle with her in moments of stress. If she loves being brushed, brush her coat when she seems anxious. These activities will help distract her from whatever is making her anxious.
4. Create a safe haven for your cat
Remove your feline pal from stressful situations and take her somewhere that makes her feel comfortable. A safe haven can be high on a shelf or in a quiet room. If the leading cause of anxiety is noise-based, try playing some calming or classical music.
5. Use pheromones
Cat pheromone products like FeliWay are created in labs to mimic the pheromones that are naturally produced by our feline pals. They can be added to a diffuser to create a calm space, or a collar that your cat wears everywhere. Many cat parents that use pheromones report that it does help lessen anxiety.
6. Give her an appropriate outlet
Our feline pals scratch things around them for numerous reasons, including stress and anxiety. Therefore, installing a scratching post somewhere in your space can help your cat relieve some stress. The scratching pole should be big enough for your cat to stretch out against (or on) fully. There are numerous cat trees that you can use that vary in size and material.
7. Consider medication
If you’ve tried all the above methods and your cat’s stress persists, talk to your vet about giving your feline pal some medication. Remember, some illnesses can make your cat anxious, while others are just overly sensitive and need medication to calm down. Giving your pet anxiety medication should be a last resort – but if it’s the only method that can improve the quality of your cat’s life, it’s worth a try.
If you prefer to stick to the natural route, consider trying some stress-relieving herbs. Chamomile and Valerian, for instance, are known to have calming effects.
Behavioral issues like anxiety are among the leading reasons why many pet parents relinquish their cats. Luckily there are numerous ways to deal with these behaviors. And if the problem persists, you can contact an animal behaviorist. He or she can help you pinpoint the best way to keep your cat calm and manage any other behavioral issues your feline pal might have.