The symptoms of cat anxiety are various and are very much dependent on the type of cat you have. Detailed below you’ll find some guidelines to help you spot the warning signs – but if your cat is exhibiting two or more of these symptoms, then it might be worth taking your furry friend to a vet, if only for peace of mind.
Symptom #1 – Hiding
If your cat is nowhere to be seen throughout the day, only escaping from a hidey-hole for food and sleep, then it may be anxious – particularly important if you recognize this to be a recent behavioral trait. This kind of behavior could be derived from a tough upbringing – and is especially prevalent in rescue cats that have experienced hardship or abuse, so it’s a definite cause for a quick check-up at the vet.
Symptom #2 – Excessive grooming
Every cat spends a lot of time licking and smoothing their fur, but doing it to the point that fur is falling out could be a sign of anxiety. This type of obsessive behavior is one of the more visible signposts that feline anxiety is affecting your pet, so stay on the look-out for excessive clumps of fur around your house and bald patches appearing on your cat’s body.
Symptom #3 – Aggression
Anxiety typically places the brain into a ‘fight or flight’ state – and this is especially true for cats. If your cat has its claws out constantly and swipes at house guests and strangers, then it might be unhappy and stressed in your home.
Symptom #4 – Very Vocal
Excessive meowing might seem adorable at first, but over-chattiness is seen by professionals as a sign of anxiety – especially if it hits more of a distressed tone (think yowling rather than mewing). If your cat is extra vocal, it’s probably trying to tell you that something isn’t quite right.
Symptom #5 – The litter box is unused
This symptom is arguably the most noticeable of all, as you’ll soon see and smell the results – especially if yours is an indoor cat. If your cat starts using other parts of your home as its toilet, then it might be experiencing anxiety derived from a threat of some kind – as spraying is a behavior that is related to territory-marking in cats. In trying to ward off this perceived danger, they’ll make a mess of your home and require some form of anti-anxiety therapy.
Symptom #6 – Trembling & Restlessness
If your cat has a visible tremor, then it’s probably living in constant fear and stress – and this needs to be addressed immediately as it could also be a symptom of a more serious neurological condition. An instant way to alleviate such fear is to create a space in your home that is cozy, safe and quiet for your kitty to escape to if it all gets a little too much.
In addition to a tremor, if your cat is pacing up and down constantly and isn’t settling down, then this could also be a symptom of a fear or phobia.
Symptom #7 – Separation Anxiety
If your furry friend can’t bear to be apart from you and cries when you’re in another room, then it may be down to separation anxiety. It’s a common misconception that cats are antisocial creatures, as the truth is quite the opposite. They require a little socialization every day, whether it’s cuddling on the sofa or a nice scratch behind the ear – but if they demand company all day, every day, then something is wrong and separation angst might be the culprit.
Symptom #8 – Eating Habits
Cats love routine – and meal times form an integral part of this. If they start to deviate off a set mealtime rota – either by eating too quickly or picking around food they previously loved – then this should be a cause for concern and a reason to consult a vet.
Symptom #9 – Lethargy
If your previously energetic cat is no longer enjoying play and has less interest in human interaction, then it could be a whole host of feline health issues. Consult a vet when your cat suddenly loses energy, as it could be anxiety alongside more serious physical health issues.
Treatments & products
Once your registered veterinary practitioner has come to the conclusion that your kitty is suffering from anxiety, then there are a number of different treatments available to bring your cat’s old self back.
After consulting the vet, there are plenty of products available right here at EntirelyPets that can help calm your cat down. The HomeoPet Anxiety Relief liquid uses alternative medicine to keep pets calm, while the FELIWAY MultiCat diffuser system releases pheromones that promote harmony and reduce anxiety – especially useful if you have multiple cats with a strained relationship. The small plug-in diffuser starts to work after seven days and is recommended by veterinarians nationwide as a solution to cat anxiety and conflict in your home.
A third option that can’t be overlooked is Rescue Remedy, a dilution of five flower remedies – Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Cherry Plum, Impatiens and Clematis – that combine to create a gentle, alcohol-free food additive that will soothe your cat’s anxieties after each meal.
These products are especially useful during Fourth of July Weekend to prevent your pets from being spooked by the fireworks – a common anxiety trigger in cats.
Creating a cat-friendly home
Products and veterinary advice are just two parts of the puzzle – to truly alleviate the symptoms of cat anxiety, you should at least consider overhauling your home to make it cozy and cat-friendly.
Just about any area of the home can be overhauled in this way. Turning a spare room into a quiet cat sanctuary filled with cozy cushions and comforters is super easy – and will provide a space for peaceful snoozes if your home is filled with strangers. Just make sure this room is always accessible to your cat, and you’ll soon find an uptick in your kitty’s day-to-day mood.
In terms of other, more functional rooms in your home, such as the kitchen or utility area, try to add welcoming touches where you can. Pairing quality floor tiles with an underfloor heating system will ensure that your cat will be spoiled for choice when seeking a warm place to nap or just roll around luxuriantly.
To add to this, tiles are super-easy to clean, so if your cat is still avoiding the litter box, then you can quickly clean up any little accidents that may occur in the kitchen. Purchase a pet bed or two to provide plenty of snuggly areas to de-stress and make sure your cat feels right at home.
Don’t Let Them be Cooped Up
If you’re leaving your cat alone in your home throughout the day, then they might feel lonely, which could lead to symptoms of cat anxiety – especially if you work long hours. A solution for outdoor/indoor cats is to introduce them to the local area immediately after adopting them, so they have a territory they can maintain during the day.
Key to this is the addition of a cat flap in your home, so your prowling feline can come and go as it pleases. A cooped-up kitty that only goes out once per day will feel more anxious about the outside world than one that indulges its natural instincts to prowl, hunt and maintain territory – although we accept that this isn’t possible for every cat’s living situation.
Improve Their Diet
Low-quality food might be the reason your cat feels under the weather or stressed. Sometimes, to improve their mood, all you need to do is provide a new type of food – especially if your cat is the type to demand only the finest of foods.
Higher-quality cat foods such as Grandma Lucy’s, that place a strong emphasis on health, may well improve your cat’s well being instantly, if you swap out basic dollar-store food for this more thoughtful option.
Aside from food, you might consider introducing catnip to your cat’s daily routine – two-thirds of all cats go wild for this naturally occurring herb, improving moods and sending them into a frenzy.
After a catnip induced playtime, cats tend to be calm and relaxed, so you should definitely consider this natural herb as an anxiety alleviation strategy. Also, if your cat is part of the one-third of felines that remain unaffected by catnip, fear not, as Valerian root, honeysuckle and silver fine have much the same effect.
So, there we have it. We hope this guide to feline anxiety and the whole host of things you can do to alleviate it has been useful, paving the way for many cats across the land to become happier and calmer in their homes.
Suhayl Laher works at Tiles Direct, one of the UK’s largest independent tile distributors and retailers – bringing design inspiration to homeowners, architects, and developers.