Anyone who owns a cat knows they sometimes display some strange behaviors. However, multiple symptoms that are atypical for your animal could suggest you have an anxious cat, or one that’s anticipating threats or danger, even when there aren’t any. Knowing the common signs of anxiety and what’s causing your cat to feel overwhelmed, scared, or upset can help you calm your feline friend and alleviate their worries.
If you’re unsure where to begin, consider this comprehensive guide to dealing with cat anxiety. We offer six helpful ways to support an anxious cat, but also provide telehealth veterinary services to discuss your cat’s situation in greater detail. Keep reading, then contact Penny Paws Animal Clinic.
Signs of Anxiety in Cats
Cats can experience some small signs of anxiety or more severe stress. The more restless, fearful, and bothered your cat appears, the more heightened levels of anxiety they are dealing with. The behavioral signs of feline anxiety can show up in several ways, such as:
- Decreased appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Faster heartbeat
- Flicking or holding the tail close
- Freezing in place
- Fur standing up
- Hiding under or behind objects
- Refusing to make eye contact
No matter what’s making your cat fearful, it’s vital to support and comfort your cat. Some pet owners make the mistake of believing the cat is at fault for their fears. You should discover what’s making your cat afraid and eliminate the stimulus as best as possible or soothe your cat’s anxiety.
How to Help an Anxious Cat Feel Better
Cats can feel anxious for a number of reasons, and as their owner, you should do everything to calm your cat and show them you care. Consider these six key tips to improve your cat’s mood and behaviors.
1. Identify and Remove Stress Triggers
Your cat could have certain triggers that are contributing to their stressed attitude. For example, if your cat feels overwhelmed and scared by new people, try to limit their time with guests or anyone who enters your home.
Think about any recent changes to their typical routine and life that could cause the stress. Have you recently changed the furniture placement in your house? Did you move to a new property in the past few weeks? It’s a good idea to learn what’s frazzling your cat and work from there.
Remember that you should slowly make changes to your cat’s environment to have them adjust over time. You could comfort your cat, introduce them to a calm area where they can retreat and feel safe, and talk to your vet about tips for adding another pet into the home (if this is upcoming).
2. Provide Your Cat With Anxiety Medication
Your veterinarian may prescribe some anxiety medicine for your cat if they deem the anxiety is severe enough. Medication is typically not the only solution and often pairs with multiple other anxiety-reducing methods. They might need to stay at a hospital to get them to a calmer state, or you will need to keep a close eye on them at home in a stress-free and relaxing environment.
3. Offer Your Cat Positive Ways To Change Their Behaviors
One major way to change your cat’s behaviors is to reinforce positive, healthy behaviors when they’re anxious. You could give your cat treats and toys or pet them when anxious to change how they feel about a stressor. You can also safely and slowly desensitize them to a stressful noise.
4. Support, Not Punish, Your Cat
One of the worst things you can do to address your cat’s anxiety is punish them. This can make their anxiety and stress even worse and cause them to become scared when you react. You should never yell, swat, or squirt them with water bottles.
5. Change Their Environment
Cats that feel like they have no place to retreat to or calm down are naturally going to feel stressed. In the event that they do come in contact with their stressors, they may visit their “safe space” to comfort themselves. You could create a cozy den-like hideout with sheets, blankets, boxes, chairs, or an expansive cat tower, adding water, food, and their toys close by.
Your cat might experience jealousy if there is a new baby or pet in the house or feel anxious if you’re always home and have suddenly started leaving the house more often. Remember to give them some of your undivided attention and environmental enrichment to decrease their anxiety.
6. Schedule a Veterinary Consultation
When in doubt, a visit to the vet (in-person or virtual) can get to the bottom of your cat’s anxiety. Some ways they can help your pet may include:
- Rule out health issues that could cause your cat anxiety
- Can prescribe medicine to calm cats before certain triggers
- Run blood tests and examine your cat’s behaviors
- Suggest behavioral modification techniques
- Provide training for your cat
Overall, you’ll get a better understanding of what’s going on with your feline pal by working with a veterinarian. It never hurts to know that your cat doesn’t have any concerning medical problems that you need to address. If they are healthy overall, then various combinations of medicine, behavioral changes, environmental adjustments, and comfort may help your cat get back to their happy, normal self.
When cats have healthy exposure to a wide range of social settings and environments at a young age, they’re less likely to develop anxiety as they get older. However, you should never force your cat into a situation and pressure them when they are obviously scared or anxious.
Address Your Cat’s Anxiety Through a Telehealth Appointment With Penny Paws Animal Clinic
We hope that learning how to help your anxious cat has helped decrease its fear and anxiety levels. At Penny Paws Animal Clinic, we help pet owners keep their animals happy and healthy with our broad range of veterinary services and offer convenient telehealth services. We serve many clients throughout Richland and other parts of Texas. We’re ready to assist if your cat is feeling anxious, so contact the team at Penny Paws Animal Clinic today!