Anxiety can lead to physical health issues in cats
Cats are often thought of as nervous creatures. They startle easily at unexpected sounds and zip from rooms when humans and dogs see nothing to fear. While anxiety can seem like a natural characteristic in cats, it can manifest itself in ways that can harm the cat’s health, make the cat unhappy and make it difficult for the cat and her guardian to form or maintain a strong human-animal bond. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to help you cat if anxiety is creating issues for her and for you.
Cats are sensitive to their environments. Any change can create stress for a cat—even something as minor as moving the couch to a different spot in the living room. When you start talking about a new family member, the departure of a family member, adding a pet or a move to a new house, many cats become nervous wrecks. While many of life’s big changes can’t be avoided, and your cat must endure them just as you must, recognizing the symptoms of anxiety in your pet and knowing help him can make things easier for you and your feline friend.
When a cat finds something in her environment to be threatening, whether it is truly a danger or a perceived danger, her brain goes to work producing a chemical that prepares her to either fight the danger or run from it. When there is a dog chasing her, this helps the cat to run high up a tree and escape from attack or to turn and face the dog with claws drawn. However, when the danger is perceived and the cat is facing bouts of chronic anxiety, the chemical causes her to become depressed, have a weakened immune system and face other physical health issues.
A cat’s anxiety can manifest itself in symptoms that include vomiting, constant meowing, pacing, trembling, over-grooming, weight loss, shyness, urinating and defecating outside the box and more. Your cat may lose affection for you if she is stressed or she may seek out extra attention.
Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for you cat, especially during times of acute stress. Drugs available include psychotropic medications and pheromones.
Feliway is a pheromone-based product designed to help calm cats. It is available in both a room diffuser that plugs into an electrical outlet and as a spray. Feliway mimics the pheromones cats produce from glands in their cheeks and that they are spreading in the environment when they rub against another pet, a person or a piece of furniture to mark their territory. The Feliway product signals to the cat they are in a friendly place.
There are many homeopathic options to consider for your anxious cat. Scullcap is an herb often used for treating nervous conditions in all kinds of animals and is said to be effective for cats. Passiflora incarnata is called a “natural tranquilizer.” If you wish to consider herbal or other natural remedies in your cat’s treatment, consult with a homeopathic veterinarian.
Also consider the way you interact with your cat. Many times, pet guardians are causing or increasing their cats’ nervousness unintentionally. Have a routine for your cat. Feed her, groom her and play with her at regular times everyday. Cats like routine and knowing when to expect certain activities will calm her.
Increase the amount of active play time you spend with your cat. If she is tired from chasing a laser beam for a half hour, she is less likely to become agitated easily. You can also create a sanctuary for your cat to retreat to when she becomes frightened. The area might be a closet, nook or guest bedroom. Your cat’s safe place should be quiet and provide her with the essentials—food, water and litter box. This is a place she knows she can retreat to if she becomes frightened.