Cat anxiety treatments that rely on behavior training such as counter conditioning and desensitization can work wonders, but require time and patience. Combining behavioral techniques with natural calming remedies and cat calming products can get you a quicker result and help to reduce your stress as well as your cats.
Depending on the severity, anti-anxiety medication may also help.
Cat anxiety can be due to a medical condition so it is important to talk to your veterinarian if you are at all concerned about this. The most common cat anxiety treatments are:
The specific thing that scares your cat is associated with a positive feeling in counter-conditioning. This is typically accomplished by rewarding your cat with a treat. So, for example, whenever your cat hears a potentially frightening sound, you should reward it with a treat. This will make your cat associate that sound with an impending treat, and it will no longer be afraid of it. The key to behavioral modification is positive reinforcement!
The counter-conditioning technique can be used for any scary thing your cat encounters, but it works best when combined with desensitization. A negative stimulus is present, but it does not exceed your cat’s stress threshold.
Once a scared cat has reached a certain level of fear, it is unlikely that they will be interested in whatever you are offering as a counter conditioning incentive.
For this technique and desensization below, we suggest hiring a Cat Behaviorist such as Ingrid Johnson because she is a Fear Free Certified Professional. She has been training cats for 20 years and gives a full explanation of her techniques on her cat behavior site www.fundamentallyfeline.com. You can read more about these cat behavior training techniques in our in-depth article here.
Things that cause anxiety in your cat are performed at a very low level and gradually increased in the desensitisation technique. If your cat is afraid of the doorbell, play a recorded doorbell noise at a low volume at first, gradually increasing. Doing this repeatedly over time accustoms your cat to doorbell noise and prevents it from being scared.
Pay close attention to your cat’s behaviour and body language when playing the sound or doing the thing that causes anxiety in your cat. As long as the scared cat remains calm and does not appear anxious, reward it with an extra-special treat, a round of play, or some petting (that is below his threshold). Continue to do so for a few minutes.
A day can be filled with a variety of short sessions.
Cat calming sprays and cat pheromone diffusers can come in handy in a variety of situations. You can spray soothing pheromones, such as Feliway spray on your pet’s collar or bed, or use a pheromone diffuser, such as our top pick, the Feliway Diffuser, to disperse them throughout your home.
Pheromone sprays are an excellent way to manage your cat’s mood.
Most veterinarians recommend the Feliway brand, which reduces cat anxiety symptoms by mimicking a cat’s facial pheromones. This spray is used to calm cats who are stimulated by changes in their surroundings.
Multi-cat Feliway can be used to calm a cat whose stressor is social immobilisation.
You can use a pheromone spray anywhere in your home, but especially in areas where your cat is likely to wander. You can also saturate their bedding with it.
Diffusers, such as the Feliway pheromone diffuser can be plugged into an electrical socket in a room that your cat frequents.
Because this does not work with all cats, you should try it before any stressful event, such as moving.
Another effective method for relieving stress in your cat is to use a pheromone collar. The pheromones that cat calming collars emit, like pheromone sprays and diffusers, are intended to mimic what mother cats produce to calm and soothe kittens, and thankfully, they can also help with the calming of adult cats.
Natural calming remedies can combat signs of anxiety in cats and help them to feel more relaxed.
Catnip, valerian, chamomile and Bach Rescue Remedy can all be beneficial. While they may initially stimulate your cat, post euphoria they should calm and relax them.
There are numerous cat calming treats on the market, and not all of them are created equal. Natural cat treats, CBD cat treats, and calming chews that cat owners swear by have all been reviewed. But keep in mind that they are a treat, not a meal replacement! And you should always consult with your veterinarian about the suitability of the cat treat for your cat.
CBD, in conjunction with cat anxiety medication, can be beneficial for cats with chronic anxiety or during particularly stressful times. Check with your vet before giving your cat CBD oil or CBD cat treats and check out our guidance here.
These are tight-fitting cat anxiety-specific shirts and jackets that apply mild tension (similar to wrapping an infant) and can help reduce cat anxiety. However, if your cat isn’t used to wearing clothes, they could be harmful. Consider whether your cat enjoys being cuddled close, and you’ll have a good idea.
Depending on your particular cat, cat calming beds can work very effectively to alleviate your cat’s anxiety. They help by making cats feel protected as they sleep. You can also get them in different sizes to suit the more petite cat right up to the maine coon.
Having a cat tree that your kitty feels comfortable in and can escape to can alleviate stress in any cat, whether they are anxious or just mildly shy. It’s an absolute must to give them the security they often crave. A cat tree also gives your cat the height they may be missing in your home. This cat tree for large cats is our favourite because it provides stability and plenty of space for cat toys and blankets to help with anxiety.
Making some simple changes in your home and routine and spending regular time with your cat including play can help ease anxiety in your cat. Providing a safe haven in your home that your cat can escape to whenever they feel the need is a must. While these actions may seem insignificant they can have a huge impact and can help your kitty companion feel much better almost immediately.
Be consistent and patient because it can take months for any positive impact to be noticed.
If you have exhausted all immediate solutions and the situation has not improved, you should consult with your veterinarian. They may prescribe medications to assist your cat in coping.
If you decide to use medication to treat your cat’s anxiety, you should get it from a reputable pharmaceutical company after consulting with your veterinarian.
Every case is different and the treatment depends on the level of the specific cat anxiety symptoms. So, it’s very difficult to give an estimation regarding any prescribed treatment plan. Beyond initial behavioral training techniques and cat calming products, anxiety treatment can include an examination by your vet, medication, testing, and training.
The cost ranges from a few dollars to thousands, depending on the extent of the issue.
The following table gives you a general price range of the various type of examination that may be required for a cat with anxiety:
We always recommend you seek the guidance of your local veterinarian who can assess your cat in person. But nowadays we also have top cat behaviorists from TV personalities like Jackson Galaxy and household names such as Pam Johnson-Bennett to Fear Free Certified Professionals such as Ingrid Johnson who can help. We’ve made a list of the top cat behaviorists who can guide you.
It is easier to prevent a behavioral problem than it is to correct it. The best way to do this is to ensure your cat’s mental and physical health is as good as it can be.
The first step in training your cat is to properly socialize it with other pets and family members. You can reduce the likelihood of cat anxiety symptoms developing in the future by exposing kittens to as many different situations and stimuli as possible during the critical socialization period (2-8 weeks of age).
When you adopt a pet, introduce it gradually to other pets and family members. If you notice cat anxiety symptoms or if your other pets are attempting to harm your new arrival, separate them immediately and confine your kitten to a different room for a short period of time.
Early interactions can easily turn into mishaps, so make sure you are always present to avoid any unpleasant incidents.
Begin by introducing your pets’ scents by exchanging towels, brushes, bedding, or other items. At the same time, you should begin to increase your own interactions with your new kitten. All of this will help them adapt to their new surroundings. Allow your new kitten to interact with other pets gradually until they can coexist freely.
As your kitten grows, you can help them overcome their fear of other cats and people by bringing them with you when you meet other humans, vaccinated cats or dogs, or travel in a car.
Now, let’s look at the best ways to prevent anxiety in cats.
Environmental Anxiety in Cats
Try to keep any potential triggers away from you. Loud noises and quick movements should be avoided to the greatest extent possible. You should also establish a strict routine for feeding and playtime to help your cat feel more secure.
Create a Safe Area
If you have recently adopted a pet, try to keep it in a place where it feels at ease. Providing a safe area will give your cat its own territory where it can relax during times of stress.
You don’t have to buy an expensive box for this. Boxes made of cardboard are inexpensive and will provide a safe haven for your kitten.
Specified Litter Box Area
Litter trays with multiple tray entrances should be placed in appropriate, quiet areas. These keep your cat from feeling confined. As a general rule, one litter tray should be provided for each cat in the house, plus one more. Even if you only have one cat, it is recommended that you have two litter trays. Particularly if you live in a multi-story home.
Separate Feeding Areas
A newly acquired pet must be fed in a separate confined area because they become nervous when eating directly in front of other household pets (if you have any!).
Exercise and Toys for Mental stimulation
Exercise is essential for keeping your pet active and stimulated. You can take your cat for a walk outside or play with him inside. A tired cat is more likely to sleep and ignore the majority of anxiety triggers.
Plenty of toys and exercise will help to deplete their energy and keep them calm. As a result, it is critical in reducing cat anxiety symptoms.
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