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10 calming tips for anxious cats


Cats are complicated creatures. More unpredictable than their canine counterparts it is easy to brush off certain behaviour as Ďcats just being catsí. But it is important to recognise if a cat is stressed, especially for longer periods, it can have deeper implications on their health. It can for example increase the risk of urinary tract problems including cystitis and crystals.

Behaviours such as vocalising more than usual, inappetence, hiding, excessive grooming, excessive sucking of fur or fabrics and inappropriate urination and sudden or unexplained aggression can all be signs. If you have spotted any of them in your cat, here is what to do:

1. Confirm Anxiety

Behaviours associated with anxiety can also be symptomatic of underlying medical conditions such as allergic skin disease (over-grooming) or urinary tract disorders (inappropriate urination indoors). While it may be stressful in itself, visit the vet to make sure your cat is not physically unwell or in pain. If anxiety is the diagnosis referral to a behaviourist may be suggested.

2. Establish the cause

Look at all the possible reasons why your cat may be feeling anxious such as changes to your home and family situation or possible one-time stressful events which may have unsettled your cat when carrying out normal routines (being disturbed while littering or eating for example). Establishing the cause is the best place to start when trying to minimise stress.

3. Nutrition and behaviour

Diet can affect feline behaviour. If you have changed your cat from a diet it was previously thriving on, try changing back. Reduce the risk of an adverse response to food ingredients by feeding a naturally hypoallergenic diet free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

4. Pheromone therapy

Such sprays and diffusers are safe ways to make your cat feel calm by mimicking natural feline pheromones. Although effective, they do not negate the need to establish the cause..

5. Environmental enrichment

Is your home feline friendly? Make sure your cat has opportunity to exercise, scratch, stretch and climb while also being able to sleep, eat and litter undisturbed. Get some stimulating safe toys and posts for the house.

6. Separation anxiety

Grooming and playing appropriate games are a great way to bond but donít focus your attention on your cat too much or they may become dependant. Try leaving your cat for short periods and ignoring him/her on your departure and arrival. Help your cat become less dependant on you by encouraging a family member to strengthen their bond by feeding, grooming or playing with your cat.

7. Medication

Prescription medication can be very beneficial and effective when used under your vetís guidance but it may not be suitable if your cat has other medical conditions and should be used in conjunction with, not instead of behavioural therapy.

8. Natural remedies

These are short acting and may not be suitable if a cat has another medical condition or is taking medication. However some owners have reported reasonable success using flower based remedies. Check with your vet first!

9. Minimise stress

Do this where possible with simple strategies like providing a safe place to hide and switching the pheromones on ahead of time (ideal for fireworks night). If your cat has never settled well at a cattery consider a cat sitting service. If travelling avoiding rushing and stressing yourself and keep the travel box out of sight until the last moment.

10. Keep calm

Cats are sensitive creatures and can pick up on how you are feeling. Try to ignore unacceptable behaviour as the attention can be a reward in itself and NEVER punish you cat! This will not work an only increase levels of fear and mistrust in your cat and crate a vicious cycle.

Remember a calm cat is a happy one. Read the full version of this article here.

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