Armour Up Against Anxiety – Understanding Anxiety in Cats
Your pet’s mental health is as important as her physical wellbeing. It is time we all should come forward and talk about mental health issues like anxiety, be it for you or your cat. Learn more about anxiety in cats and how to manage it.
Kritika Manchanda It is common misconception that cats will not express if they are anxious. If you are a pet-parent you would know that something is wrong with your kitty. Cats can experience anxiety due to a number of reasons. A lot of times anxiety is interpreted as bad behavior. So, it is important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can categorise anxiety and bad behaviour separately. One of the most common reasons for anxiety in cats is separation.
An increasing number of pet parents have faced this issue, especially during the pandemic. You were with your pet for an extended period of time and now that slowly things are getting back to normal and you might have to go to work or for other chores, there are chances that your cat might feel separation anxiety.
Traumatic experiences can also cause fear and anxiety in kittens and cats. Any illness or painful physical condition can also lead to anxiety. Age related issues like dementia and joint pains can also cause a lot of anxiety and discomfort in senior cats. Improper socialisation can also be one of the causes, so it is recommended that you provide your pet positive social and environmental exposures especially during socialization period (7 – 12 weeks of age).
Signs & symptoms of anxiety in cats
Look out for these symptoms that will help you separate anxiety from ad behaviour –
Becoming more withdrawn
Hiding at slightest stimulus
Physical reactions – panting, increased heart rate, trembling
Avoiding eye contact
Experts believe that a lot of fears and anxieties tend to develop in the first year of cat’s life. Pet parents usually notice the signs between the age of 5 months and 1 year. As the cat ages, the issue can worsen. That’s why it is important that you catch the symptoms at the right time and start managing them.
What to do when your cat is anxious?
The first and most important step is to try and comfort your pet. Whether she has mild or severe anxiety, try and be there for your pet and calm her. If you have identified the signs, it would be best to consult your vet so that a proper line of treatment can be defined. The vet might recommend some medications or suggest alternate therapies.
Perils of punishment
When your cat is anxious, punishment will only increase her fear. It can even lead to aggression. So do not shout or yell at your cat when she is anxious.
Do not confine
A lot of pet parents believe that putting the cat in the crate will calm her down. But on the contrary, many cats are not fans of crates and when you try to confine them, especially when they are anxious it will have a negative impact on their wellbeing. They might try to break free and injure themselves in the process.
Happy & calm with aromatherapy
Just like you feel at peace after burning your favorite candle, the same effect holds true for cats. Essential oils can prove to be a great alternate therapy and work great as anxiety busters. You can ask your vet for essential oils that are specially formulated for cats.
Dealing with anxiety, whether it is for a human or pet, is a matter of patience. So, take time to understand your cat and tread with caution to make sure the situation doesn’t worsen!