Real or Not? Separation Anxiety in Cats

Separation anxiety is a common behavioral problem in dogs. At Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital we have coached many dog owners through training techniques, outlined crate acclimation, and even prescribed medications to combat separation anxiety. 

But surely this problem affects cats, too? 

Despite their often confident demeanor and rap for being loners, separation anxiety in cats is a real phenomenon and one that perhaps often goes undiagnosed. With a little awareness, though, we can help these stressed, anxious kitties as well.

Recognizing Trouble

You may think of your cat as a solitary individual, but if you stop to consider it you will likely realize that your pet is a pretty social creature. Many cats develop strong bonds with the people and other animals they live among. 

When we talk about separation anxiety in pets, we are referring to an emotional response from them brought about by a separation from the person or animal that they have a bond with. This may occur when you are gone for a prolonged period, such as on a vacation or a full workday or sometimes even with shorter outings like a trip to the store. Schedule changes can also bring on separation anxiety.

In the canine crew, separation anxiety is often hallmarked by howling, tearing things up, and sometimes urinating or defecating even though house-trained. Cats, as with so many other things, are often more subtle. 

Signs of separation anxiety in cats may include:

  • Increase in anxiety as person prepares to leave the home
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Urinating or defecating in odd areas, often on personal items
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Grooming excessively
  • Destroying objects
  • Obvious excitement upon reunion 

Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Cats

If you think that your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety, the first step is to make an appointment to see us. Many other things can cause inappropriate urination, increased vocalizations, vomiting, changes in eating habits, or increased grooming. We need to be sure that there is not an underlying physical illness before assuming a behavioral cause. 

Once we have determined that your cat is healthy, we can get to work. Separation anxiety in cats can be combated with strategies to modify behavior and decrease the stress associated with your absence. 

Planning playtime – A set schedule helps most cats. Be sure to schedule a predictable 10-15 minute session of quality time into your day. Limit play and other social activities about 20 minutes before you leave home so the transition is less dramatic. 

Enriching the environment – Making the environment fun and stimulating even in your absence is key. Ditch the food bowls in favor of puzzle feeders and treat dispensers. Rotate toys, put up a bird feeder in front of the window, and add vertical climbing spaces to your home. 

Changing your tune – Be sure to avoid making a big deal of leaving or returning. Slip out quietly while kitty is eating or playing and return without a lot of fanfare. Notice what actions trigger an anxious response in your cat. If, every time you pick up your keys, Tiger starts meowing, do it over and over until that action gets less of a response.

Take help – There are many products and services that exist that can help you combat this problem in your cat. Using pheromone products like Feliway can be helpful for some cats. Consider a pet sitter to stop by and interact with your cat when you are away. In situations where basic behavioral modifications are not enough, you may even need to work with our doctors to utilize anxiety-reducing medications. 

Cats are just as much a part of our family and home as are dogs, and separation anxiety in cats is a real thing. Despite their tough exterior, our feline friends really do love us. It is our job to recognize signs of anxiety and reduce their stress. After all, that’s what friends are for. 

Kitty Like to Claw? How You Can Deter Destructive Cat Scratching Behavior

Whether you have a vintage velvet sofa, or a worn out hand me down for a couch, you don’t want your furniture to become victims of your cat’s claws.

They aren’t trying to make you mad, but cats must answer to their instincts. Despite the fact that most people find it irksome, cat scratching is just one of those feline behaviors that serves many needs. Luckily, there are ways you can prevent it from becoming a habit.

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H2O, No! Why Do Cats Hate Water?

Most cats are averse to water. It’s kind of a thing with them, and avoiding baths is something most kitties will do at all costs. Cats and their opposition to water is the thing of memes and comedies. Cats, after a bath or falling into water, don’t exactly look their happiest. But what is it about the splashy stuff do cats dislike? And, why do some odd cats enjoy water?

It seems like a good mystery to investigate. The team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital is here to take on this case of why cats hate water.

The Reasons Why Cats Hate Water

Unlike most dogs, who like to splash around in a creek or body of water, you’ll likely never see a cat out there doggie-paddling. To get to the bottom of this, let’s take a look at cat’s wild processors for some clues. 

Have you seen images of big cats, like lions and cheetahs? Chances are, you have seen them splashing around and cooling off in a body of water. Big cats who have evolved and adapted to warmer regions of the world, such as the African Lion, Leopards, and Ocelots are actually really good swimmers, and tend to enjoy it. Staying cool and expanding their hunting territories require that they be comfortable in the water, and it seems they are.

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Cat Language: What Kitty is Trying to Tell You

For pet owners, trying to decipher what their furry family member is communicating is a daily part of life with pets. Cats can be especially challenging, though, given their more reclusive nature.

Cat language is subtle, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t constantly trying to communicate with us. With a little bit of practice, you can pick up on what your cat is trying to tell you.

The Incredible Tail

The tail is one of the most expressive body parts on a cat, and knowing how to interpret its movements can tell you a great deal about what your cat is thinking and feeling at any given moment.

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How to Enrich Your Cat’s Environment

Cats are naturally curious – we all know that! And it is true that indoor cats are safer and live longer lives than their outdoor counterparts. After all, they don’t have to contend with predators, cars, or other cat-induced injuries. However, how do we make sure that our feline friend doesn’t pine away at the door, wishing for freedom?

Enter: environmental enrichment for cats. This buzzword has become the term most associated with how to help your cat find stimulation and entertainment indoors. And, there are a plethora of ideas! We’ve decided to share some of our favorites.

Basic Instincts

Cats have certain innate and natural instincts that they need to pursue if they are going to be truly healthy and happy. These include hunting, surveying territory from a perch, scratching, and climbing. When in the wild (or outdoors), cats have many opportunities to exercise these behaviors. Indoors, it’s our job to mimic the conditions that cats need so they can practice these natural instincts in the safety of their home. Continue…

Feline Behavior: Understanding How Cats Socialize

Rocklin_iStock_000071839991_LargeHead bumps. Slow blinks. A twitchy tail. Meowing. These are just a few of the ways your cat communicates with you. However, when it comes to other pets or people, Fluffy has other ideas. Cats are often (incorrectly) labeled as aloof or antisocial. While we’ve all seen a cat or two that fits that description, many felines are actually very friendly, affectionate, and curious.

Feline behavior can be mysterious, but getting into your cat’s head isn’t impossible. Learning more about how he or she socializes provides important insight, resulting in better health and wellness. And who can argue with that? Continue…