Anxiety is fear of the unknown, feelings of worry, and anticipation of danger. While most humans are familiar with this feeling, we might not be aware that our feline family members can experience it, too. Unfortunately, anxiety in cats is more common than you would think!
It can be tricky to determine whether your cat’s mood is from anxiety, or if it is just normal cat behavior. The team at Brodie Animal Hospital is here to help you identify the signs of anxiety in felines, and offer some tips to help your scaredy cat calm down.
Signs of Cat Anxiety
Some immediate signs of anxiety in your feline friend can be easier to spot, such as a higher heart rate and respiratory rate, along with panting, salivating, and trembling. Other more subtle signs of feline anxiety may be a little more sneaky and hard to detect, such as:
- Hiding and withdrawing from interaction
- Demonstrating aggression, lashing out unprovoked
- Excessive meowing or vocalization
- Changes in appetite, weight loss
- Acting clingy, or following you everywhere
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Failure to use the litter box
- Attempts to escape
While most cats like to hide and enjoy some alone time, if your cat is always in hiding, this may be a sign that they are suffering from stress and anxiety. Also, if they are more aggressive than usual, or meowing and being excessively vocal, your cat may be trying to communicate their anxious feelings.
Causes of Cat Anxiety
Changes in daily routine or home environment may trigger anxiety in some cats. Moving to a new place, or having a family join or leave the household may contribute to your kitty’s stress. Even something as simple as a new job and work hours could be a cause for alarm for your cat.
Shelter cats, cats who have been rehomed, newly adopted cats, or feral cats that become pets may have a harder time adjusting to changes, and might require a little extra love and patience to help them settle in.
How to Help an Anxious Cat
If you see your cat is visibly upset or anxious, you can try comforting them and petting them. Talk to them in a calming and gentle voice, and stay calm around them. Never scold or yell at your anxious cat for those behaviors, as this could trigger more fear and lead to negative associations.
Your overall goal should be to help your cat feel safe and secure in their surroundings. For cats dealing with separation anxiety, adding distractions in the house, such as stimulating toys or a cat perch near a window, can help your cat stay occupied during their time apart from you. Calming treats and pheromone diffusers or sprays may also be helpful in creating a soothing environment.
When To See a Veterinarian
It’s always important to bring your cat in for an annual wellness exam, to make sure they are healthy and keep up with preventive care. Similar to how cats are skilled at hiding illness or injury, some signs of cat anxiety may also be symptoms of another issue.
It’s important to contact your veterinarian if your cat has an abrupt change in behavior and day-to-day mood, significant weight loss or gain, or seems just “off.” Also contact your vet right away if your cat cannot stop trembling, panting, drooling, or has increased heart rate for a prolonged period.
Your veterinarian will be able to offer more tips specific to your cat’s situation, and may even prescribe anxiety medication to help stabilize their mood.
The Brodie Animal Hospital team is always here for you and your pets! Call us at 512-892-3486 if your cat is showing signs of anxiety or fear, or to schedule a wellness exam.