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Anxiety in Kittens and How to Calm Them

As surprising as it may sound, anxiety in kittens is a big problem.

They’re more like us than you might think; sharing emotions of joy, sadness, anger, and confusion.

If you suspect your furry friend may be feeling the effects of feline anxiety, there are plenty of things you can do to help calm them down.

Read on, cat owners! In this article, we’ll be going over all the most common signs of anxiety in cats, as well as telling you how to calm down a kitten with anxiety.

How To Tell If Your Kitten Has Anxiety

If your kitten has been acting strangely for an extended period, there’s a chance they could have some form of anxiety.

Your kitten may have been showing these signs since birth or they may have developed recently. It’s important to remember that anxiety can hit at any time and no one can predict what will happen when an animal grows up.

That said, here are the most common signs of anxiety in kittens:

  • Nervousness around other animals
  • A reluctance to play or interact with other cats in the household
  • Displaying destructive behaviors, such as scratching furniture
  • Excessive meowing
  • Withdrawal or constant hiding from you or other pets
  • Excessive self grooming, leading to bald patches
  • Toileting outside of the litter box
  • Fully dilated pupils
  • A loss of appetite

Of course, if your kitten is exhibiting some of these behaviors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re suffering from cat anxiety.

However, it could be a sign that you should take some action. We’ll be going over how to calm down a kitten with anxiety later on.

What Causes Anxiety In Kittens?

There are many reasons why a kitten could develop anxiety. In cats, it actually works in a similar way to humans.

Therefore, there could be a wide range of triggers for cat anxiety. The most common reasons are below:

Lack Of Early Socialization

This is one of the main causes of anxiety in kittens. Socialization refers to the process of exposing your kitten to new environments, people, and other pets in the critical socialization period between two and seven weeks of age. If this does not occur, your kitten could develop fears that are irreversible unless a lot of time and effort is put in on your part.

Alternatively, kittens can develop social anxiety when they have had negative experiences of people and other pets in the critical socialization period. Most of what a kitten learns about the world is solidified in these first few weeks. So, it’s essential that their experiences are varied and positive!

As you might expect, a lack of positive socialization can cause a kitten to display numerous symptoms of anxiety, especially when around other animals or humans.

Separation Anxiety

Another common cause of anxiety in kittens is separation anxiety.

This happens when a kitten becomes too reliant and dependent on their owner’s presence for social companionship. This can cause them to feel anxious and abandoned whenever they are left alone, which can lead to a number of behavioral problems.

Many people don’t realize this about cats because they seem like such independent creatures!

However, cats can actually form very strong bonds with their owners which can easily lead to anxiety when they are left alone. This is more commonly seen in Siamese and Burmese breeds but it can occur in any kitten.

So, if you notice that your kitten is displaying signs of stress whenever you leave the house, they may have developed separation anxiety.

Phobias

Just like humans, kittens can experience phobias of certain things in their environment that could cause anxiety.

For example, a kitten who fears thunderstorms might start displaying signs of anxiety whenever they hear thunder.

In fact, loud noises, in general, are common phobias for kittens because it disrupts their otherwise peaceful life.

Phobias in kittens can also be extended to other animals (who may have hurt the cat at a young age), people who have mistreated them, or even certain foods.

It is worth noting that cats have an associative memory. This means that they quickly associate events, sounds, movements, and smells with certain situations. So, for example, if a kitten got scared in a dark room because of the sound of fireworks, it may also develop a fear of the dark.

When Is A Kitten Most Likely To Develop Anxiety?

If you’re wondering when a kitten is most likely to develop anxiety, then it’s important to note that there isn’t really any one specific time where it will happen.

It usually starts developing in the first year of life and usually worsen between the ages of 1 and 3 years.

This might seem like quite a large window of time but these are the years that cats are most vulnerable to stressful situations.

How To Calm Down A Kitten With Anxiety

best cat calming spray kitten staring in camera

Now that we’ve gone over some of the possible causes of anxiety in kittens, let’s take a look at how to calm them down.

Firstly, you should NEVER punish an anxious cat. This is likely to make the situation much worse. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and distraction to help your kitten adjust.  

One thing you can do is provide your kitten with plenty of high places to hide and chill out.

Cats love perching up high as it gives them a sense of security, It also allows them to survey their surroundings and spot any potential threats more easily. So, you could always invest in a cat tree or keep their bed on top of a cupboard to give your kitten somewhere high up as their own.

You can also use toys that encourage your cat to play and explore. These include laser pointers, feather sticks, and balls. The more active your kitten is from a young age, the less likely they’ll feel anxious.

In addition, giving your kitten plenty of attention from a young age will help to alleviate anxiety later in life.

This is probably something you do already, but showing love and affection to your cat is a great way to relieve their feelings of anxiety.

Finally, You can consider adding a new feline companion to your household. However, bear in mind that not all cats will get along! Always introduce new cats slowly over the course of a few weeks to ensure the best outcome. 

Cats have an incredible sense of smell, so begin by swapping scents over (such as on blankets or favourite toys) so the cats can get used to each other. Then, you can move on to introducing them face to face in a controlled environment. Always make sure any interaction is positive (food, playtime, and treats work well!) and move back a stage if your cats appear uncomfortable at any point. 

What Should I Do If My Kitten Has Anxiety?

If you’ve read through this article and you think your kitten might be suffering from anxiety, there’s no need to panic!

Follow all of the steps we’ve outlined on how to calm down a kitten and they should end up acting a lot calmer after a few weeks.

However, if they’re still exhibiting these unwanted behaviors and you think it’s because of anxiety, a trip to a veterinarian or cat behaviorist could be helpful. There are numerous medical conditions that can also cause these symptoms so be sure to check with your vet if you are concerned.

Final Thoughts: Kitten Anxiety

As you can see, anxiety in kittens is very similar to anxiety in humans.

Both species experience stress when they encounter new situations and both can suffer from separation anxiety.

However, anxiety in kittens can be harder to recognize because they can’t tell us about it. That’s why it’s down to you, as their owner, to pick up on the signs. Remember, that cats communicate using subtle body postures so it is important to keep an eye on your kitten and note any behavioral changes. Always holding the tail close to the body, ears flattened against the skull, and continuous crouching, are all signs you should watch out for. This will help you to address the situation before it escalates into more severe anxiety.  

As long as you follow all of the steps we’ve outlined in this guide, you’ll have a much happier kitty strolling around your home!