How Do You Identify Anxiety in Cats?
A 2012 survey of cat owners reported that 24% of cats suffer from at least one anxiety or fear issue and that 67% of cats with anxiety go untreated. It is thought that the high rate of untreated cats is due to a lack of knowledge of the owner in the recognition of some of the signs of cat anxiety. The signs of cat anxiety range from very obvious to very subtle. The signs of Anxiety in the Cat include:
- Urination or Defacation outside of the litter box
- Excessive Vocalization
- Excessive Grooming
- Chewing or Suckling
- Dilated Pupils
- Hyperactivity or Increased Attention Seeking
- Hypervigilence or Hyperresponsiveness to Stimulus
In your cat, anxiety may originate from upbringing, changes in environment, separation from owner, the addition of new pets, visitors, or be genetic in origin. Unlike dogs, cats are more independent which makes it more difficult to notice some of these signs. So when you notice that your kitty is a “little off” take an extra minute to see if there are new stresses that making their life a little too much for them to handle. By identifying the stressor, you can do things such as remove the stressor if possible, provide you cat a safe space, or in some cases you may have to take them to their veterinarian who may recommend any number of remedies including natural remedies.
In conclusion, while our cats may seem aloof and independent, they experience anxiety as well. Our cats just express their anxiety in ways that are often unnoticed. So pay attention to your cat, and the next time you begin to see the behaviors associated with anxiety, know that you have many ways to support good mental health and a happier kitty.
-Dr. Jim Sharkey, PhD
Chief Scientist, Therabis