Categories: anxiety

My cat is anxious what can I do?

Cat owners type this into Google search: my cat is anxious what can I do? This has been covered many times before but as people are asking I’ll provide some guidelines in the form of easy starting points to get the ball rolling and to try and calm your cat.

Anxious Cat

Provide hiding places in the home and let your cat find them and use them. Leave her alone if she is hiding. Give her space and time. Hiding places are very important for a nervous or timid cat especially after moving home and she is in a strange place. Cats find it harder to adapt to a new home than people, I believe.

Try and figure out what is making your cat anxious but don’t force your cat to confront these things. She’ll have to gradually get used to them. If she is frightened of a particular area where there is noise such as a washing machine don’t force her accept it by taking her there when the machine is on. Instead acclimatise her to the area by encouraging her to come closer to the area until she is comfortable with it.

Avoid direct eye contact. They say this is scary for cats. You can blink if you want to. She may blink back!

Avoid petting and stroking if your cat is unsure of you or is in a heightened state of anxiety. The best way to get her used to what’s around her is to play with her. Cats can’t resist chasing a cat tease and it diverts the mind. It is entirely instinctive and if you are on the end of the tease she gets used to you and forgets the things that are making her anxious.

Of all the things to do to overcome a cat’s anxiety I think playing with your cat is the best. Essentially play is play/hunting. I have seen nervousness about the environment in a kitten drain away with good old fashioned play. Different cats respond to different types of toy. Find the ones that stimulate your cat. Homemade ones are great.

Singing cat is an anxious cat

Food treats are good too. It is a nice way to bond with your cat and if you have a close relationship I think is reassures your cat which therefore helps make her feel less anxious.

Once again if your cat is unsure of you and you know that she has a favourite food you might give it to her by hand. Get down to her level as the size of humans can be automatically a bit intimidating to a nervous cat.

Human routines are reassuring to a cat. Doing the same thing throughout the day, day after day are routines. Yes, it sounds boring but cats find reassurance in routines. And not changing anything about the home. Move an piece of furniture and your cat might think the world has come to end!

Calm and quiet in the home from all fronts is also useful. And no strange people wandering in and out of the home. These are counter to routines and known entities. Loud noise is always disturbing to a cat. They should be avoided.

Introduce Feliway an artificial pheromone; a cheek-pheromone spray. It can calm cats. You can buy capsules for wall socket devices which diffuses the pheromone into the room gradually.

Jackson Galaxy is a great fan of cat clicker training. Why? Because it stimulates a cat and helps bond cat to human. It will be a diversion for an anxious cat.

As a last resort anti-anxiety drugs can be tried. These seem to be more popular in the USA than the UK and really should be a last resort; drugs such as clomipramine (UK) as used. Your vet must be involved as giving drugs to domestic cats is fraught with danger unless you really do know what you are doing.

If I have missed something please add it in a comment. Thanks.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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