Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic
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Buffalo, MN 55313

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Cats Get Separation Anxiety Too

Although we would probably deny it to our friends, us cats love our humans and can feel quite distressed when they leave us. We don't know it's just for the day and that you will be back before supper. We just know that we miss you. Some of us even develop separation anxiety, which you can learn more about in the article below.  Cheers, Carlos

People often have the mistaken impression that only dogs get separation anxiety. Part of the reason for this persistent myth is the belief that cats are solitary animals who don't have the same need for human contact as their canine counterparts. In reality, cats are social creatures who form close bonds both with their human family and with other animal members in the household. 
 
Cats who were weaned from their mother too young, orphaned, or who have lived with several different families tend to be the most at risk of developing separation anxiety. Your home environment and the fact that some cat owners reward them for being clingy and needy can also play a role. If your cat has no other activities to entertain herself, she may become overly dependent on you. Other possible causes include a change in your work schedule, family tension, or re-adjusting after you come home from a vacation. 
 
Signs of Feline Social Anxiety 
 
If you're not sure what to look for, it would be easy to misinterpret your cat's clues that he is struggling with anxiety as deliberate misbehavior. Some of the most common indications include: 
• Excessive meowing 
• Excessive grooming 
• Eliminating outside of the litterbox 
• Eliminating on your bed or a piece of your clothing 
• Eating too fast 
• Refusing to eat at all when you're not home 
 
While coming home to find cat feces on your bed isn't pleasant, your cat isn't just trying to be naughty. She is actually mixing her scent with yours as a means of self-comfort. You obviously need to take steps so she doesn't repeat the behavior, but you shouldn't punish her for it. 
 
What to Do About Separation Anxiety 
 
It's important to keep in mind that displaying the above symptoms doesn't necessarily mean your cat has separation anxiety. Since he could also have a legitimate illness, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic if the symptoms persist.  Once you're certain that you're dealing with separation anxiety, employing several behavioral techniques should help to reduce or eliminate it. 
 
Making changes to your cat's environment so it is more enriching is a good way to start changing this anxious behavior. It helps him to feel more secure, satisfied, and entertained in your absence. Some things to consider include cat climbing trees, puzzle feeders, and creating more spaces for hideaways. Cats love to curl up and hide and they have a natural instinct to chase prey, both of which they can satisfy with these changes. 
 
Although it may be hard, ignore your cat when she's being demanding and reward her when she's being quiet or entertaining herself. Most cats enjoy petting and praise from their owners as well as the occasional treat. To get her more active and tap into that natural hunting instinct, be sure to play with her once or twice each day. This also gives her your undivided attention. 
 
One final tip is not to make a big production about leaving. Just be matter of fact about it and be on your way so your cat doesn't pick up on your anxiety. If none of these suggestions work, you may need to consider medication for your cat. Please let us know how we can help with this frustrating problem. 

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