You may have assumed your cat was aloof and self-sufficient. However, the cat, like its biggest adversary, the dog, may become attached to you and therefore be worried about your absence. This phenomenon is all the more accentuated for cats newly arrived in homes during the pandemic.
What is separation anxiety in cats?
Erin Katribe, medical director of the Best Friends Animal Society, explains:
Separation anxiety is a stress reaction observed in an animal when it is separated from a person or another animal to which it is strongly bonded.
Another study published in Current Biology discovered that cats create human-like attachment ties when compared to dogs. In fact, when separated from their owner, 64% of cats display secure attachment (as opposed to ambivalent or unpleasant attachment) and show indications of sorrow.
Why is your cat anxious?
The specific origin of separation anxiety is unknown, but it's most likely a combination of 'environmental and inherited' factors.
Separation anxiety may affect any cat, but it's more frequent in orphaned, bottle-fed, weaned kittens, and also cats who aren't used to interacting with people.
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How to spot the signs of anxiety in your cat?
According to Erin Katribe, separation anxiety in cats manifests itself in destructive behaviour, excessive vocalizations, abnormal excretion habits and unwillingness to eat or drink when the owner is not around.
If you spot these signs in your four-legged friend, do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian.
What should you do if your cat has separation anxiety?
Your veterinarian may be able to help you. Prescribed antianxiety drugs may assist with severe separation anxiety, but they should be used cautiously. Preventing or minimizing separation anxiety, according to Bruce Kornreich of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, is all about preparation.
Owners need to make sure a cat has a safe place they can always go, maybe a perch, a little nook, or something, and a cat needs to feel comfortable going there of itself.
To alleviate its stress, it is also advised that hiding places be installed, particularly at a height. Puzzles, a scavenger hunt for food or other prizes, interactive toys, a cat-friendly TV, and access to an enclosed yard or patio are all hands on suggestions from Erin Katribe.