Symptoms of Cat Separation Anxiety

By Tess Thompson

Separation anxiety in dogs is a common situation that dog owners sometimes face. This disorder can bring out the worst behavior in dogs.

On the other hand, separation anxiety in cats is a less common phenomenon and typically gives rise to behaviors that are not as destructive as those of a dog suffering from separation anxiety. It is so uncommon in cats that it was until recently that the disorder was considered to be absent in the feline species. Recent studies conducted by veterinarian behavior specialists have proven that separation anxiety is possible among cats also.

During the course of such studies, various factors that can cause separation anxiety in cats were discovered. Such situation can cause the cat to exhibit distinctive behavior patterns that are unique to separation anxiety. Some such factors that can cause separation anxiety among cats are the following:

  • Separation from the mother
  • Early weaning
  • Purchase from a pet store
  • Oriental breed like Burmese and Siamese

Unlike dogs, who ruin upholstery, break objects and howl on being left alone, symptoms of separation anxiety in cats are not so explicit and destructive in nature. This basically means that identifying symptoms of feline separation anxiety requires keen observation. It is very uncommon for cats to scratch or claw at doors in an attempt to escape confinement.

These are some of the symptoms that indicate the possibility of separation anxiety in cats:

  • Extreme attachment to the owner – This is by far the most obvious symptom. Although cats are not known to get too attached to a particular person, such extreme forms of bonding are possible. Following the owner all over the house is a typical manifestation of being too attached.
  • Pre-departure symptoms – If some symptoms surface every time the owner is ready to leave the house, it is likely that the cause of the problem is separation anxiety. Bad behavior can convey the hurt that your pet is feeling towards being left alone. It can be evident from actions like sulking, hiding, walking stealthily or meowing.
  • Behavior when you are away – If there is no one else in the house when you are not there, you might need to set up a recorder to have vocal evidence of your cat’s behavior. If your cat has been crying, meowing or moaning while you are away, the symptoms are definitely those of separation anxiety.
  • Refusal to eat – If your cat does not eat in your absence, it is a sure sign of separation anxiety. Refusal to eat signifies that your cat is too overcome with anxiety that eating ceases to be a priority.
  • Forgeting house training - Like dogs, cats are also prone to forget their training and might indulge in urination at inappropriate places, especially in your bed.
  • Various others – Unrestrained joy on the return of the owner, excessive self grooming and vomit in various places are a few other symptoms that you may observe.

Treating separation anxiety is actually a matter of relieving stress in pets that they may be feeling. Since the symptoms of feline separation anxiety are mostly subtle, there are chances that they may remain unnoticed or undiagnosed for years.


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