Reducing Anxiety in Cats – A Commonsense Approach

If your cat is anxious the following tips may help. We know that when cats are anxious they will probably like to hide. You should let your cat find his own hiding place where he feels safe. He should not be disturbed. Give him all the time he needs to emerge.

Anxious Cat

Anxious Cat

Your cat should not be forced to confront the things which frighten him. He should be given time to acclimatise to these things. You might like to gently introduce your cat to an area that he is frightened of to enable him to recognise that it is not something to be frightened of.

Experts say that you should avoid direct eye contact. For a shy cat, direct eye contact is said to be scary. However, I have not found this to be a major issue.

It is probably sensible to avoid stroking and petting but rather use food treats, games and gentle words and actions instead.

Your cat probably has a favourite food. Anxious cats can be enticed out of the place where they hide with food treats and if you can give these treats directly to your cat so much the better. It may be a good idea to offer the treat from your extended hand while crouching down.

I have found that a very good way of a cat developing trust in his surroundings is to play with him. Encouraging play-hunting is a great way for nervous cat to forget his anxiety and become acclimatised to the surroundings.

Cats like routines. Cat dislike change. Shy cats hate change. Therefore stick to routines.

Your cat’s living space should remain as unchanged as possible. Even moving furniture around can make a cat worried or at least concerned.

A cat owner needs to be very patient with an anxious cat. Nothing should be forced.

There are some anxiety-reducing product on the market which a veterinarian might, as a last resort, recommend.

The sort of drugs used on humans to reduce anxiety are rarely licensed for use on cats. These drugs are amitriptyline, Prozac and clomipramine. Your vet may prescribe these drugs but the side-effects are unpredictable cat and therefore they should be used with caution.

Old-fashioned antihistamines can sedate a cat as a side-effect. They can be used to manage stressful situations. Non-drowsy antihistamines will not reduce stress.

Feliway is a well-known synthetic cheek-pheromone spray. It has apparently proved effective in studies. It is used to treat a range of “anxiety-rooted problems”. These might include urine marking in multi-cat households. Another situation that may suit the use of this product is when your cat stays at a boarding cattery or when being transported in a carrier.

Catnip is a very well-known product. It triggers a euphoric response in many cats. Therefore it will diminish stress. However, it may also, on rare occasions, make your cat aggressive. It can be applied to scratching posts.

There are alternative therapies such as homeopathic remedies and flower essences which are marketed for humans and which can reduce feline stress.

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