Does your kitty have cat separation anxiety? When you get your coat out of the closet and look at your cat, which of these looks do you get - the "sweet, a whole day of sleeping directly in the centre of the bed" look, or the "OH NO, you're LEAVING me" look?
For some cats, the thought of having the whole day to themselves is a stressful thing.
However, there are ways to make your leaving easier!
First, determine how the cat separation anxiety is affecting your cat. Is your pet licking themselves too much, causing hair loss? Is there depression (moodiness, too much aggression towards other cats, eating disorder)? Destruction of household items?
If destruction in the house is the issue, your cat may simply
have a shorter attention span and be bored while you are away. The
other reason may be personal attention - this destruction will
definitely get them noticed when you come home.
Try rotating the toys so that you have 2-4 toys available during the day, but change them frequently. Even an older toy will be exciting again if it hasn't been seen in a while.
When you are home, have an interactive session with your cat -
grooming or playing together, with feathers on a string for example.
Some cats need more "together time" than others, destruction may just be
their way of saying "notice me".
Instead of expressing stress outwardly by destroying things, some cats turn the stress inwards. This can show itself in hair loss. If you start to notice that your cat has licked little patches of fur off - usually on the stomach, bum and sides areas - this can be signs of stress. Also read about other reasons for cat hair loss.
If this has just begun, try leaving a shirt or sweater that you have been wearing - but have not washed recently - out for your cat to sleep on while you are gone. This also helps if you are going away on a trip and the cat is home alone or being boarded. It allows them to smell your scent and feel closer to you when you are not there.
If your cat is anxious about being home alone, you can also try
Feliway. Feliway contains synthetic hormones that trigger the cat's
system to release their own calming, happy hormones. It comes in a spray
or a plug-in diffuser
. The diffuser looks like a room air freshener plug-in. The synthetic
hormones have no effect on humans and won't harm your cat. It works on
most cats but not all, and you may have to restrict the cat to certain
areas of the house for the diffuser to be more effective.
If your cat has more severe stress symptoms combined with depression, a vet visit may be necessary. Symptoms include changes in eating habits, sudden severe aggression towards or complete disinterest in things they previously enjoyed, or other mood changes. Your vet can check your cat over and may prescribe an antidepressant. The dosage and the length of treatment time may vary - sometimes your cat may just have an episode of depression once and when they come out of it they are fine, some cats may need a little medication help for longer periods of time.
One last thing to consider is the possibility of adding a cat friend to your household. This is not something to be taken lightly - your cat's temperament will determine if this option is right for you. Some cats work better in pairs, some are solitary and like it that way.
Our youngest (and largest!) boy cat Gus is really not a solitary cat - the worst thing ever for him is to be left alone. I am sure if he was an "only cat" he would suffer from cat separation anxiety. He needs to be in a room with either a cat or a human at all times. However, our girl cats probably would be fine as "onlys" - if the other cats are there, great, if not, great is their general attitude!
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