Does My Cat Have Separation Anxiety?

Managing Separation Anxiety

The good news is that your cat doesn't have to be clingy and hairless the rest of his life. The first step is to visit your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions that may be causing the problem. If your veterinarian concludes that your cat may have separation anxiety, here are some steps you can take to help him feel more comfortable and less afraid when you’re away from home.

Enrich his environment. Food puzzles and other interactive toys can engage your cat’s brain and help take his mind off the fact that you’re AWOL. Releasing the food from a puzzle toy challenges his intelligence and helps keep him active.

Keep him interested. Rotate favorite interactive toys to help prevent boredom. Bring out the best ones only when you are leaving the house.

Give him a new focus in life. Screen a nature DVD with lots of birds, squirrels and fish. Their quick movements and high-pitched noises can intrigue your cat. Another way to do this is to set up a window perch with a view of a bird feeder or an aquarium that he can see but not access. (You don’t want to come home to carnage.)

Stay on schedule. Cats don’t like change. As much as possible, feed and play with your cat at the same times every day. That can help to relieve his stress.

Plug in a diffuser that emits feline pheromones. They mimic the natural pheromones produced by a mother cat and seem to have a soothing effect on some cats.

Severe cases of separation anxiety may call for a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist whose trained observations may give new insight into your cat’s behavior. If necessary, she can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help your cat stay calm in your absence.

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