Separation anxiety disorders in cats were only discovered recently due to some research conducted by animal behaviorists. In contrast, the symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs are prominent and easily observed.
Cat separation anxiety is difficult to identify, and it requires a keen eye to be able to notice symptoms of separation anxiety in cats. Identification also requires an insight into cat behavior and mannerisms. Cats are less destructive when they suffer anxiety. In most cases, they tend to follow their owners and indulge in self grooming. Sometimes the excessive licking and cleaning can cause psychogenic alopecia.
It is unfortunate that a large majority of the cat separation anxiety cases are caused as a result of the inexperience on the part of cat owners. People tend to encourage behaviors that involve a show of exhilaration on the return of the owner since it is seen as a sign of attachment. They fail to realize that excessive attachment and overdependence is the basic cause behind separation anxiety.
Treating cat separation anxiety is important because it can lead to undesirable behaviors. The first step is to check whether the anxiety is occurring from an underlying ailment. If the anxiety is due to a physical ailment, treating the condition can solve the issue.
If it has been established that your cat suffers from separation anxiety, you may have to strike a balance between medication and behavior modification and training. Medication includes prescription anti-depressants, over the counter formulations, herbs and homeopathic remedies.
Behavior modification is a simple but time-consuming technique that involves building confidence by relieving stress in pets. It also helps in training your cat to be independent. Here are some tips that you can follow:
- Ignore your cat for some time before leaving the house.
- Hide some food that your cat likes at places she is likely to find in your absence.
- You can make some contraptions that dispense food when played with. Such toys are also available in stores.
- Ear mark a favorite toy of your cat for bringing out and distracting her when you have to leave. Hide this toy on your return.
- Ignore the cat for some time after you return.
You can also try to desensitize your cat to the actual act of leaving and returning home. Start with making a parody of leaving and returning – open the door and close it without actually leaving, go out and return in a couple of seconds and repeat. Gradually increase the time that you spend away on each occasion.
Even when noticed, cat owners tend to ignore symptoms of cat anxiety believing that they will go away on their own. Anxiety of any type can possibly lead to physical illness. There are many steps that you can take to ensure that such a situation does not arise.