nervousness in cats nervous gray cat

Is Nervousness in Cats Normal?

All cat owners are going to see nervousness in their cats at some point. Everyone gets nervous. Humans, animals, and even plants – but that is a discussion for another day! You don’t have to panic at the first sight of nervous behavior. It’s only when your cat starts to display it frequently that you will want to take note of it. 

By reading our article, you’ll be able to pick out the symptoms and causes of cat anxiety which will help you towards the next step. This involves figuring out how you can help your kitty and whether a vet visit is necessary. 

Symptoms of Anxiety in Cats

Signs of stress can vary depending on the individual cat but there are a few basic symptoms that all of them are going to display. What you want to pay attention to is the frequency of them. This will give you a chance to tell if it’s something to worry about or not.

Some common symptoms of anxiety in cats include: 

  • Excessive meowing (even more than usual if your cat is very vocal)
  • Urinating and defecating outside of the litter box (for more information, read here)
  • Aggressive or excessive grooming
  • Changes in eating and drinking habits

Now, these are just a few. Other symptoms you want to watch for include vomiting, general aggression, and a change in activity level or mood.

A cat highlighting one or two of these behaviors isn’t really a cause for concern. However, it becomes a much bigger deal when they show at least three or more symptoms for a good chunk of time. The only way you can really find out if your cat has anxiety is by observing your cat for a few days.

Remember to take notes! This way you won’t forget.

Causes of Cat Anxiety

signs your cat is stressed sleepy fluffy cat

The reasons for anxiety in cats can vary. It can be a physical reason or something that is more psychological or behavioral. Whatever the reason, understanding the causes can help you plan on how to deal with it.

While it is true that cats try to hide signs of illness from their owners, they do show subtle symptoms. One of them is general anxiety. They could develop this because they are in pain or as a result of an illness that is affecting the body.

The other reasons fall more on the psychological/behavioral side of the spectrum. These include trauma, being separated from you, and improper socialization as a kitten. Trauma can affect cats just as much as it does humans. This doesn’t have to be something as serious as abuse. Moving to a new place, getting a new cat, and sudden loud noises can also be causes of trauma.

Whatever the cause, you will need to observe, observe, observe! Then, once you’ve done that, write your thoughts down while keeping track of your cat’s symptoms.

Now you know the signs of cat anxiety and why it can develop. Next is what you, as the owner, can do to help.

What to Do for Anxiety in Cats

Trying to figure out how to treat anxiety in your cat involves a bit of trial-and-error. Saying that, there are a few general things you can try out to see if any of them help to relieve your cats’ anxiety.

The first is to know what is causing the anxiety/fear in your cat. If the reason isn’t physical or an illness, start by creating a safe area. A quiet place and one that has low traffic is best. By having this, your cat has a place to retreat to when things become too overwhelming.

Engaging in activities such as playing with your cat regularly and keeping their litter box clean (or spotless if you can manage it) are also great ways to lower anxiety. These may seem like simple options, but cats love structure so a strict routine can go a long way toward reducing stress and anxiety.

As we mentioned before, figuring out a solution is truly a trial-and-error process. If none of these things seem to work, then you may have to consider taking your cat to the vet. The vet might have different options, one being medication.

Time for a Vet Visit

Okay, so you might think; wait, anxiety medication for cats? Is that actually a thing? The answer is, yes. Long-term anxiety medication does exist for your cat, but in order to get access to this, it needs to be prescribed by a vet. You should never give your cat any sort of medication without a vet’s input because an incorrect dose could be harmful or even fatal.

Some common medications that vets may prescribe to cats include Xanax, Elavil, Clomicalm, Prozac, and Neurontin. These are just a few of the options out there. Obviously, there are over-the-counter meds you can try, but I would always suggest discussing everything with your vet first. You don’t know if something over the counter is just the latest fad or something that hasn’t really been tested on cats before. Cats with underlying medical conditions may also react badly to these types of medicines.

Your vet will give you guidance on how to help your cat. Remember, they want to help your kitty just as much as you do.

Final Thoughts

Now you should have all the information you need to help your kitty companion with their nervousness and anxieties. It is important to remember that it is never your cat’s fault if they are displaying anxiety. They are completely innocent, so make sure you never yell or punish them for that behavior. Employing any or a combination of the suggestions given in this article will reduce your cat’s nervousness and help them to feel safer in their environment.


Picture of Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong is a devoted cat Mom and freelance writer with a passion for all animals, but especially cats. She has owned cats since she was six years old and even though she is now in her thirties, her love for cats has never faded. She continues to adopt cats and give them a safe, loving home. Currently, Desiree spends most of her time writing. In her free time, she cares for her furbaby, a tabby cat named Halo who is nearing her seventh birthday.