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Warning: This article, “10 ways to treat anxiety in cats”, is purely informative. On CatLicking we do not have the skills to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to bring your animal to the veterinarian if it presents the symptoms of a fever or a disease.
Anxiety can be very bad for your cat’s health. It is therefore necessary – for his well-being – to help him calm down. Here are some tips and tricks to naturally calm an anxious cat!
The cat does not have the same daily constraints as its owner. Still, he can still be prone to stress. Anxiety in cats can be a real issue.
Anxiety, which can be manifested by soiling and peeing outside the litter box, scratches on furniture, mutilation, a change in eating habits (loss or gain of appetite), abnormal aggressiveness or on the contrary, almost permanent apathy .
The causes of this state are moreover multiple: moving, the arrival of a baby or a new animal at home, lack of activity, fear of being separated from its owner… , there are techniques that are easy to implement to prevent your feline’s nervousness:
1. A Stimulating Environment, the Key to Having a Calm Cat
If you can’t remove the source of stress, such as the bullying neighbor’s cat, there are steps you can take to make your cat better withstand stress.
Start by making a few simple changes to your home.
Cats love to perch high up to watch over their kingdom! This position gives them a sense of security and control.
Creating cozy nests high up in your home, on furniture, at the top of closets or on shelves, for example, can really help your cat relax.
Likewise, by helping your cat to scent the house, you can make her feel better. Cats leave scent marks using the glands in their cheeks; you can help your cat by gently rubbing its cheeks with a clean cloth and then rubbing the cloth all over the house.
You can also purchase pheromone diffusers which will similarly create a calming environment to reduce your cat’s anxiety.
2. Give your Time for More Serenity
An anxious cat is a cat who needs to feel surrounded. Pamper him with food adapted to his needs, groom him, play with him to allow him to drive away all his frustrations, hug him when he asks for it… You will see, your bond will only be stronger!
Live and let live, a perfect grandma’s secret to guarantee a healthy relationship for you and your pet feline.
3. The Importance of Respecting the Cat’s Needs
The cat has his habits and very specific needs. For its well-being, it is therefore necessary to scrupulously respect them.
For example, you should never disturb a cat that is resting or eating, much less force it to do what it does not want to do!
4. Give Him a Linen Impregnated with Baby or Newcomer Smells
The cat is a very intelligent animal that picks up changes very quickly. How did our grandmothers get theirs used to the newborn to come? They made him sniff a piece of clothing worn by the child, his various hygiene products… so that he could absorb his scent!
In the case of welcoming a new animal, it was a bit the same: they made him inhale a tissue with the scent of the new hairy. As he gradually got used to this new scent, he felt less of the effects of fear of the unknown and anxiety.
5. Make Him a Toy to Relax Him
Domesticated, the cat no longer needs to hunt for food. It is therefore much less active. But this comfort comes at a price: that of stress.
The less he spends himself, the more he gets bored and goes around in circles.
Well aware of this reality, our grandmothers did not hesitate to use their creativity to create perfect entertainment for their little companions.
A ball of paper, a pompom, a cane made up of a stick, a string and a cork stopper… and it was happiness. They reinforced their bond with their animals while allowing them to let off steam and be stimulated.
What if you did the same?
6. Bach Flowers, a Good Anti-Stress Solution
To allow a cat to decompress, you sometimes have to trust… the powers of flowers!
For many decades, people have trusted Bach flowers… and for good reason! This floral elixir works miracles with us and with felines: 4 drops in their water bowl can be enough to relax him!
7. Relaxing Products for Cats
Cats love treats, that’s for sure.
VetriScience treats have a chicken taste that cats love. Their formulation has been designed and approved by veterinarians. It contains Colostrum (promotes relaxation, stimulates cognitive functions and reduces stress), L-Theanine (reduces stress, anxiety and aggressive behavior) and Thiamine (acts on the nervous system to calm down anxious feelings) in order to calm the anxiety of our feline friends.
Clinical trials have shown their effectiveness: they act after half an hour and their effects last for 4 hours.
Pheromone diffusers reproduce the pheromones released by the cat when it marks its territory (for example when it rubs against furniture or even against you).
The Feliway ThunderEase diffuser releases pheromones (odorless) on an area of up to 700 square feet and their effectiveness can last up to 30 days.
It is effective in 90% of cases and eliminates unwanted behaviors such as urine jets or untimely scratching.
If you have multiple cats, there is a suitable diffuser: ThunderEase Multicat.
Calming Collar for Cats
Still using the soothing power of pheromones, relaxing cat collars ensure their diffusion throughout the day, and wherever the cat is.
Sentry Calming Collar begins to work after 2 weeks of use. The effects last for 30 days. To the pheromones are added essential oils of lavender or chamomile.
There are also calming hemp-based collars, like this one. The manufacturer states that the relaxing effects are felt after just 15 minutes (and last up to 30 days).
This adjustable collar fits any size cat, from smallest to largest, and even fits small dogs. It is enriched with citronella, clove and eucalyptus.
Cat Calming Spray
A calming spray can be a good choice if you want to treat certain rooms in your home or specific places like the car.
The Cool Kitty Spray is formulated with pheromones (proprietary recipe), passion flower and jasmine and is very effective in calming your kitty and reducing inappropriate behavior such as scratching, squirting urine or fighting with others cats.
Many users of this spray have noticed an almost immediate effect on their cats.
The same manufacturer also offers a spray based on catnip, which will encourage kitty to use his scratching post and toys.
Cat wipes are ideal before a trip to the vet. This situation is very often stressful for the cat, and the mere sight of his cat carrier can make him run away very far!
The solution is to place a wipe in his carrier so that it diffuses his pheromones and makes him feel comfortable.
You can also place a wipe where your cat sleeps to make it easier for him to sleep.
A nutritional supplement may be possible to limit your cat’s stressed behavior. Of course, before any purchase, consult your veterinarian who will advise you.
Vetoquinol Zylkene capsules contain a substance called alpha-casozepin, which is found naturally in cow’s milk. This substance has calming powers, while avoiding completely knocking out your animal. The capsules are lactose free, so as not to disturb the fragile stomachs of our felines!
They can be given directly by hand or mixed with kitty meal.
Zylkene capsules are available in 3 strengths (75, 225 or 450 mg) and in 3 pack sizes: 14, 30 or 120 capsules. You can give them to your cat as well as to your dog. The dosages are to be chosen according to the weight of your companion.
They are an attractive alternative to stronger sedatives, which can cause other problems such as changes in behavior.
8. How to Reduce Cat Anxiety in the Car
A car trip can be a source of stress for a cat but also for its owners. Here are some tips to reduce your cat’s stress and panting in the car so that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
First, equip yourself with a carrier that will be a comforting place for your cat. In fact, the cage will be seen as a refuge, preventing him from being frightened by the vagaries of traffic and making a small space soothing rather than the whole vehicle. Do not hesitate to place the cage in a room in the house several days before your departure so that your cat can explore and visit it.
As we said above, you can also give your cat calming nutritional supplements.
In the form of tablets, capsules, or bite-size anti-stress, these food supplements must be administered 48 hours before departure.
These anti-stress cat food supplements help prevent too much anxiety on the day of travel.
They are most often composed of plant extracts with recognized relaxing properties, or based on milk protein with anti-stress properties.
It is important to remember that it is unnecessary, even dangerous, to remove the cat from its transport cage during the car journey.
There is also no need to walk him on a leash to relieve himself during breaks because many cats are unable to eliminate in unfamiliar places.
It is better to leave it in its box in the shade and bring terry towels to place at the bottom of the box.
Putting litter directly in the transport cage is not recommended, as it is not very comfortable for the cat. The cat is able to go several hours without urinating thanks to its ability to concentrate its urine.
If it is a new place to live, familiarization with this new territory will be made easier by connecting an electric diffuser made from pheromones or essential oils.
It is also important to never force a cat out of his transport box and to let him explore this new territory at his own pace.
The closer the living conditions are to their habits, the easier the adaptation will be.
9. How to Deal with Separation Anxiety
If your cat has a naturally anxious temperament, to relieve him in your absence and while waiting to resolve the problem, you can get some soothing products or even consult a veterinarian who could prescribe medication if his condition is considered dangerous for his health.
There are also a few small actions you can take:
- Desensitize it by simulation exercises of your outings: your cat must learn that the world does not stop in your absence, and that it is normal for you to leave the house from time to time, for a while.
Get used to it by practicing repetitive entry and exit of the house, first a few seconds, then minutes, then half an hour, etc. Through this exercise, your cat will learn that each of your outings does not necessarily equate to dozens of hours of loneliness and, above all, that you will always come back and that there is no need to fear the opposite. We trivialize the source of stress, gradually!
- Your cat must be able to live without you… at least a few hours! In severe cases of emotional dependency, ignoring the cat when it comes home for a few minutes may help your cat not take your comings and goings as seriously.
When you are at home, also ignore his demands for attention during the day if he is particularly demanding, in order to teach him to regulate and be more independent. It’s not always easy to ignore a purring tomcat, but remember it’s for their own good!
You can also call him to you when you want to interact with him, instead of just responding to his requests.
- Be really present when you are there, and exhaust it before you leave: a cat who is bored when his owner is there may find the time even longer in his absence. Before you leave for the day, spend some quality time with your cat by playing with her to burn her energy, both physically and mentally. Tired, your cat will then be able to sleep more easily for part of the day while waiting for your return.
10. Stay Positive!
When trying to soothe your cat, remember that you should never scold or punish him. Even if he behaves destructively while urinating at home or scratching furniture, scolding him will only increase his stress and possibly worsen the problem.
And your cat may eventually hate you! So be gentle and patient, your will help your cat to be peaceful and happy.