Changes in the environment in which a cat lives are often the cause of stress, which if maintained over time can lead to a picture of generalized anxiety and neurotic behaviors in the animal.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of cats that are euthanized or abandoned in shelters owe their sad development to behavioral disorders, most of which are caused by stress and anxiety. However, these disorders can be successfully treated. We will talk about this in this post.
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What is feline anxiety?
Although some of its manifestations can be confused with fear or phobias, anxiety has little to do with them. In fact, fear always has a clear trigger to which it is directed while anxiety lacks a precise cause and is more like the irrational anticipation of a fear.
For ethologists, anxiety in cats is the pathological exacerbation of an inadequate adaptation . For you to understand, the feline perceives something in its environment that threatens it, despite the lack of justification for it, and this state of alert ends up damaging its body, physically and mentally. Anxiety erodes all of the cat’s self-controls.
What Causes Anxiety in a Pussycat?
The propitiatory factors of this picture of anguish and permanent hypervigilance lie in the ecology of the animal, that is, in its relations with the environment that surrounds it, the availability of resources and the possibility of expressing the behaviors that are inherent to it.
In a smaller percentage of cases, anxiety may be due to an underlying health problem . As you can see, there are many situations, mostly external, that can lead a cat to suffer from anxiety:
- Too much or too little attention. Your pet feels harassed or, on the contrary, neglected or abandoned due to the lack of attention and company.
- He hardly playsand exercises because he spends many hours alone and without stimulation.
- There have beendrastic and / or sudden changes in their daily routine that threaten their status quo in the family (a move, the arrival of another pet, the birth of a baby, a visit, the family environment is tense due to some mishap … ).
- He has experienced mentaland / or physical abuse in the past, for example, by being abandoned in a shelter.
- It has been separated before 6 weeks of lifefrom its mother and siblings or has not successfully completed its socialization and learning as a puppy.
How do I know that my cat is anxious?
As the owner of your cat, no one knows him better than you, you know how many times he eats, how much, how many hours he sleeps, how much he plays … Therefore, you will be the first to realize that something is wrong if you notice changes in his behavior.
However, we can classify the symptoms of anxiety in cats into physical and mental.
Organic or physical symptoms of anxiety
To this group belong:
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia).
- Increased respiratory rate (tachypnea).
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Pupil dilation.
- Sweat on the footpads resulting in unsafe and slippery walking.
Mental or psychological symptoms of anxiety
If the intensity of your best friend’s anxiety is mild, it may be more doubtful to perceive them, but the signs of stress are there. We refer to:
- Loss of appetite or reduced food intake.
- Loss of interest in grooming and daily grooming.
- Obsessive scratching or licking on one of its legs.
- He spends many hours passive, observing in a permanent state of alert.
- Excessive marking.
- Urinate out of the sandbox.
- He is elusive and elusive with you.
- It mobilizes destructive behaviors by scratching everything in its path.
- He’s aggressive, especially if you don’t respect his space.
Generalized anxiety in kittens
When stress and anxiety unify without treatment, the cat can be overwhelmed. Obsessive compulsive behaviors indicate the presence of a generalized anxiety that will make a harmonious coexistence with the animal impossible.
These neurotic behaviors will disturb the well-being of the cat and will be evidenced by aggravated symptoms:
- The motor tension will be noticeable through tremors and startles.
- The cat is nervous, vigilant and irritable.
- Excessive vocalization. Faced with the impossibility of satisfying a need or being subjected to a source of stress, they will verbalize that discomfort with persistent and high-pitched meows.
- Attempts to escape or to get away that, if neutralized, will result in aggressiveness towards the human.
- Intimidating behavior towards other cats or, on the contrary, full submission.
Treatment for feline anxiety
Despite the severity that a disorder of this type can acquire, anxiety in cats has treatment and precisely, you as the owner have a lot to say. The ethologist veterinarian will prescribe anxiolytics if he considers it appropriate.
Generally speaking, the treatment that works best for feline anxiety are massages, caresses, and kind words in a high-pitched tone. Playing with it 2 or 3 times a day will help you release that anxiety .
Try to be away as little as possible and when he is alone, provide him with interactive toys in which he must be involved to find the solution. Toys that challenge their hunting instincts, as well as shelters in the heights are very suitable. Homeopathy, for example, catnip or a few drops of Bach flower essence in your water will help to relax you.
Stay patient and loving
Ultimately, you must give him time and remain attentive to his progress. Now more than ever you will have to resort to positive reinforcement and all your love to achieve your alertness. You must strive to make him understand that there is no threat, that he is still the king of the house. Little by little you will appreciate the improvement.