How to communicate with an anxious cat
Do you ever wonder what goes on in your cat's head? Have you noticed some unusual changes in their behaviour? Are you worried they might not be as happy as they should be?
Published on the 23/02/2020, 18:00
Well, we're here to help. And while we can't teach you how to speak fluent cat, we can definitely give you a few pointers on how to understand what's really going on with your kitty.
See here are 8 tips for communicating with anxious cats:
Does your cat have anxiety?
Tip #1: Know the signs
Cats display anxiety in different ways. Some of them are pretty obvious, while others are far more subtle and may go unnoticed if you don't know what to look out for. The symptoms include aggression, increased vocalisation, toilet accidents, excessive scratching, and weight loss.
Repeated bouts of illness or recurring urinary tract infections are another sign of cat anxiety. That's because stress affects the immune system, increasing the chances of illness or other health problems.
Tip #2: Assess the situation
Try and identify the root cause of the anxiety. For example, have your just moved house? Have they been any recent changes to their environment, such as a new arrival or another pet?
If so, your cat may display some signs of anxiety until they come to terms with the new situation. Most kitties will be ok after a week or so, although adult cats and senior cats may take a little longer to adjust. The same goes for feral cats who are adapting to the life of your everyday domestic cat. These kitties may retain some of their wild behaviours for a few months, including marking their territory and refusing to use a litter box.
How to speak cat
Tip #3: It's all in the way they move
If you want to know how your cat feels, watch their body language. When a cat is happy, they tend to walk with a sense of confidence. In other words, they strut about with their head held high and shoulders square.
When cats feel anxious, you'll notice a big change in their body language. They tend to make themselves look much smaller, keeping the ears flat on the head, the whiskers pulled back, and the tail may look rigid or stiff.
How to help an anxious cat
Tip #4: When to take action
If the situation doesn't improve after a few weeks or if you can’t identify the source of the anxiety, it's time to take some action.
Speaking to a vet or an animal behaviour specialist is a good place to start. They can help identify the nature of the problem, advise you on what to do next, including making any adjustments to your home or routine. And if the anxiety is severe, then they can prescribe anxiety medication to help in the short-term.
Tip #5: Separation anxiety
Being a pet parent can be hard work. As cat owners, we want our pets to know how much we love them, but they also need their independence to be truly happy.
Cats without a healthy amount of independence will soon develop separation anxiety. This is when they can't cope with being away from their favourite humans for any prolonged period. Cats with separation anxiety will follow their owners everywhere, cry whenever they're left alone, and start acting out or turning aggressive when you're about to go out.
Tip #6: Signs Your Cat Might Have Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is caused by a lack of socialisation, early trauma or abuse, and is especially common in cats who have been rehomed several times.
Is there anything I can do to alleviate my cat's stress?
Tip #7: Signs Your Cat Has Anxiety & What You Can Do About It
Some extra toys, a scratchy post, a climbing station, and puzzle feeders are all great ways to keep your kitty physically and mentally stimulated. And the more they engage with the external environment, the less time they have to feel anxious or lonely.
You can also try some specific cat calming products. They release scents that mimic natural pheromones, which have a soothing effect on cats. They come in sprays, diffusers, or plug-ins. Cat calming products can work well, but they're definitely more of a short-term solution. So even if you notice a positive effect, you should still address the root cause of your cat's anxiety.
Tip #8: The natural cure
Or how about some feline aromatherapy? Lavender, chamomile, and valerian can all have a positive effect on a cat's well-being. Just leave a bowl of the dried flowers out in your cat's favourite room.
Feline mental health is something that every owner needs to take seriously. And because our cats can't tell us how they feel, it's up to us to keep a close eye on them and look out for any changes in their behaviour that may indicate anxiety. As you can see, there's plenty you can do to boost your pet's well-being. But if you're ever in doubt, or if your cat's condition shows no sign of improvement, don't hesitate to speak to a specialist.