Is your kitty suffering from Separation anxiety

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Do you often come home to shredded couch and tattered cushions? Do you find your kitty going berserk when you are about to leave home? Does your feline friend greet you with frantic joy when you return home after a long day at work? If you have been observing these and many other signs in your feline friend, don’t take the matter lightly. Your kitty could be suffering from what is known as the separation anxiety. Here’s how to handle it.

Cats suffer from separation anxiety, recent studies conducted by animal behaviour specialists have shown that our feline friends also crave for constant companionship and get flustered when they don’t find their pet parents around. Unlike dogs who howl loudly and get uncontrollably aggressive, cats are more subtle when it comes to displaying signs of separation anxiety.
You have got to have a keen eye to understand what your kitty is trying to tell you. Here are few signs to look out for, to find out if your cat is suffering from separation anxiety:
Extreme attachment: Is your kitty so attached to you that she follows you around the house? Does she mingle as freely with the other members in your family as she does with you? Cats suffering from separation anxiety show extreme attachment to their owners. Extreme dependency and clinginess could indicate separation anxiety in cats.
Pre-separation blues: When you are leaving home, do you find your cat displaying unusual behaviour like incessant meowing, hiding, sulking, etc. These behaviour changes indicate the pre-separation blues your cat is going through when you are about to leave home and the ways she is trying to grab your attention to stop you from leaving.
Desolation distress: When left alone at home your cat would express her dismay by

  • Meowing and moaning loudly.
  • Refusing to eat food even if it is her favourite food in the feeding bowl.
  • Displaying aggressiveness by scratching doors, walls and fighting with cushions.
  • Urinating and defecating near the door, on your clothes and at other inappropriate places.
  • Compulsive self-grooming and excessive licking to the point of developing bald spots on her skin.

Joy of companionship: Upon reaching home, do you find your kitty greeting you like you have been away for years? Chances are that she has been really missing you and is now overjoyed at your return. Now that you are sure that your feline friend is struggling with separation anxiety. Here are few things you can do to get hold of the situation:
Your attitude: Don’t pay attention to your cat when you are preparing to leave and for few minutes after you reach home. By not paying heed to her until she calms down and behaves normally, you can reinforce good behaviour in your cat.
Training to stay alone: Let your kitty get used to the idea of being alone. Start by leaving her alone in the house for few minutes on a regular basis and slowly increase the time span. That way she would get over her fear of being alone and become more independent.
Reinforcing positive things with being alone: Distract your kitty by bringing out her favourite toy or a treat filled toy when you are leaving. Remove these toys when you get back home so that your kitty gets to enjoy these toys only when she is all alone. This would cause her to associate positive experiences with being alone and she would begin to look forward to the alone time.
No boredom blues: Make the environment at home more comfortable and stimulating so that your kitty is entertained and distracted from the thoughts of loneliness. A comfortable couch near the window from where your curious kitty can enjoy a nice view, a nice toy to cuddle with, climbing structures to help her move around freely and some food dispensing toys can go a long way in staving off boredom and keeping your kitty engaged.
Make her a family cat: Acquaint your cat with all members in the family. Encourage others to take turns in feeding her, playing with her and grooming her. That way your cat will become more amiable and you can have others to take care of her when you are not around.
Seek vet’s advice: Discuss this problem with the veterinarian. Your vet would be able to analyse the underlying cause of separation anxiety and prescribe some medications if needed.
Conquering separation anxiety takes time. Be patient and supportive towards your cat and she would be able to boost her confidence and become more comfortable with the idea of being alone.