What To Do If Your Cat Has Anxiety

Behavior, Cats

Many owners who come to our clinic worry about whether their cats are suffering from anxiety. As opposed to dogs, which tend to suffer from acute causes of anxiety, such as when their owner leaves the house, or loud noises, cats tend to have generalized anxiety over changes to routine like visitors to the house, construction or furniture being moved around.

What an Anxious Cat Looks Like

Cats tend to express anxiety through either over-grooming (to the point of losing hair or giving themselves sores) or inappropriate bathroom behavior (urinating or defecating outside the litter box). If your cat is having either of these problems contact your veterinarian to rule out other medical problems and to discuss environmental and pharmacologic interventions that can be tried.

Finding the cause of your cat’s stress

Cats are much more mysterious than dogs when it comes to why they are anxious. (Learn more about dog anxiety.) Sometimes there is an obvious trigger like construction workers coming in and out of the house, or a new puppy or baby being introduced to the house.

Subtle triggers for cat anxiety

Other times it can be something subtle like a new feral cat in the neighborhood walking by the window or a piece of furniture that was moved around. If you can identify the trigger and change it, that’s great — but more often than not we don’t identify the reason for the anxiety or we can’t change it.

Helping Your Cat Deal With Stress

There are some things you can do to help anxious cats though.

Keep a routine: I’m sure you’ve noticed that your cat knows it’s 7AM breakfast time even if daylight savings means that your clock says it’s 6AM. Keeping a regular routine is always a good idea when it comes to cats. Try to keep feedings and litter box changes on a set schedule to keep your cat from getting stressed out.

Give your cat a nest: You can also make some changes around your house to reduce stress. Installing resting/hiding places that are higher up in the room so that your cat can look down on the room and get away from any dogs or children if they want to will help to let them feel like they are in charge of their world. If it is possible to give them access to a window that they can look out, or better yet, a screened in porch or outside play area, that can be very good for a cat’s emotional well-being.

Extra litterboxes: Another general recommendation is to have one more litterbox than you have cats. So if you have 1 cat you should have 2 litter boxes, and if you have 3 cats, you should have 4 litter boxes, and so on. The more variety in the type of box and the location the better. Litter boxes should be scooped at least once daily and the box cleaned and litter changed once every 1-2 weeks.

Pheromones can help cats de-stress

Like dogs, there is also a pheromone spray for cats which works well to reduce anxiety. It is called Feliway and there are a number of sprays, diffusers and scratch pads that you can buy. I have had a lot of success with this all natural treatment for anxiety and I recommend it to any owner of an anxious cat.

See a veterinarian

If you have made all the changes to the environment you can, and your cat is still having inappropriate, anxious behavior then we can try pharmacologic interventions to help give him or her some relief.

Anxiety can be a very frustrating problem but you are not alone and there are many options to help your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about anxiety or any other medical problem.

— Dr. Shawn Budge

Essex Middle River Veterinary Center provides medical and surgical care for cats and dogs at our animal hospital and veterinary clinic in Essex, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. Our services include preventive wellness care exams, vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care. Our state-of-the-art veterinary offices are conveniently located near I-695 where we see pets from Towson, Honeygo, White Marsh, and other neighboring Baltimore areas.

Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

More people are traveling by car this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are bringing your pet with you, planning ahead will make the adventure safe and enjoyable for your furry family member. Pet Travel Tips from your Veterinarian If traveling by car we do...

This Summer, Keep Your Dog Safe From Heat and Free From Fear of Fireworks

As July 4th and summer is approaching, it’s a good time to get educated on the latest recommendations to keep your dog safe from overheating, and free from anxiety caused by fireworks. Fireworks Are No Fun For Most Dogs A recent study showed that 3 out 4 dogs are...

My Dog Has Stomach Pain. Could it Be Pancreatitis?

Pancreatitis is a painful condition that afflicts some dogs. There are quite a few different causes of pancreatitis: Trauma, cancer, breed-specific conditions, and diet are all known causes. For the purpose of this post, we will focus on dietary related pancreatitis....

Why Won’t My Dog Stop Scratching Itself? A Guide to Stopping the ItchY.

Can you guess the most common type of non-wellness appointment we see in practice this time of year? If you guessed some variation of itching, scratching, or skin irritation, you are right! Allergy Season Affects Pets, Too All dogs will scratch sometimes. But...

More Resource Categories:

How To Protect Your Cat From Lily Toxicity

Springtime is one of the best times of the year, but for cats, it can be one of the most dangerous. As we near the...

Yes, Even Indoor Pets Can Get Worms!

Indoor cats are overall healthier than those allowed to go outside. However, this doesn’t mean they are free from all...
Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

Did you know?
According to Merriam/Webster Dictionary - mutt is defined as:
Mutt can now be used with either affection or disdain to refer to a dog that is not purebred, but in the word's early history, in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century, it could also be used to describe a person - and not kindly: "mutt" was another word for "fool." The word's history lies in another insult. It comes from "muttonhead," another Americanism that also means essentially "fool." "Muttonhead" had been around since the early 19th century but it was not unlike an older insult with the same meaning: people had been calling one another "sheep's heads" since the mid-16th century.
... See MoreSee Less

Taylor”s baby is earning his allowance early ... See MoreSee Less

Taylor”s baby is earning his allowance early
Load more