A cat playing on the floor, with a scratched-up chair

Is your cat a velcro kitty who follows you around all day, wanting to be next to you? Do they get stressed or fearful any time you leave the home? Have you noticed increased accidents or other destructive behavior upon returning?

If your cat shows these behaviors and rushes to meet you each time you return, they may have separation anxiety.

This disorder is typically diagnosed in dogs, but several cats have separation anxiety. Their behavior, though, may seem different from a dog with the disorder. The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital want to spotlight this disorder in cats and how you can help prevent or treat it in your special feline.

What Is Separation Anxiety in Cats?

Separation anxiety is an extreme dislike of solitude. This occurs with whomever the cat is closely bonded to and the cat may sulk or become depressed when they cannot be near their person. Because most people make the mistake of thinking cats are aloof or solitary creatures who don’t mind the alone time, cats actually are more sociable than one would think. 

Unfortunately, the myth of the solitary cat leaves many felines at home alone a lot. This can manifest some fears, anxiety, and phobias in cats who are prone to separation anxiety.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in cats include:

  • Vocalization (crying, howling, etc.)
  • Increased accidents and spraying
  • Not eating
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive self-grooming and increased hairballs
  • Clawing at doors
  • Attempts to escape

If your pet isn’t eating or has some of the above mentioned signs, call us for an examination. These symptoms are considered red flags of separation anxiety, but they could also indicate an underlying medical problem that needs urgent attention.

Helping Your Pet with Separation 

At your pet’s wellness examination, your veterinarian will have some suggestions for treating separation anxiety, which may include medications. At home, there are also key changes you can make to help your cat when you are away.

  1. Provide plenty of enrichmentMental enrichment entails providing your cat with toys, treats, objects for exercise, like cat trees and cubes, a window view, and so on. Cats love to watch birds, so you can set up a bird feeder in front of a window. It’s like kitty television! Food or treat puzzle games can also help fill the time for your kitty companion, as well as videos designed for cat viewing (like nature shows).
  2. Have someone check in – If you have long hours at work, consider hiring a pet sitter or ask a friend to check in on kitty. This midday companionship can help ease the anxiety of not having you there. Plus, it’s an incentive for your cat to get more exercise for the day, since your sitter will play with your best furry friend.
  3. Minimize the separation – Don’t overemphasize your enthusiasm upon returning home, as it can reinforce your pet’s idea that alone time equals something bad. Instead, pet your cat and go to feed them while you attend to your errands and downtime. Snuggle your pet later, after calm has been restored.
  4. Stick with a routine – Cats are most comfortable when they know what to expect. Plan on feeding, exercising, and grooming your pet each day at the same time. If they are uncomfortable being alone, gradually adjust the schedule, so they have more and more time to themselves (without being excessive). Pop out for a few hours and get them used to some limited time without you.

Questions About Why Some Cats Have Separation Anxiety?

Would you like more information about why some cats have separation anxiety? The Pet Experts are here for you and your meowy companion. Please do not hesitate to call us