The idea of a cat is to be independent and self sufficient, but sometimes cats can develop fears and phobias. This can cause them to avoid situations that they should be comfortable with. If your cat has a fear or phobia, you’ll need to find the root of it and figure out how to change their behavior.
Cats are an independent animal that can be very difficult to train. However, there are toys for cats with anxiety that can help the cat feel more comfortable.
We usually think of ourselves or dogs when we think of anxieties and phobias, but cats aren’t forgotten.
Dr. Meghan Herron, a veterinary behaviorist and co-editor of the book Decoding Your Cat, says, “Cats typically cope with fears or phobias quite differently than humans do or than dogs, therefore their anxieties and phobias sometimes go unappreciated.”
What is the source of the apprehension in the first place? “Fear is just being frightened, and there are different degrees of fear,” explains Dr. Amy Pike, a veterinary behaviorist in Fairfax, Virginia, and contributor to Decoding Your Cat. We may or may not be able to understand the source of that fear.” She claims that a fear is more intense and unhealthy. “It’s nearly usually no one’s fault when a cat is really phobic. We don’t know whether genetics have a part; we don’t know.”
Two of the most prevalent cat anxieties and phobias are mistakenly believed to be dog issues, and they are. Separation anxiety and thunderstorm anxiety, on the other hand, are quite common among cats.
Getty Images/Anna Avdeeva
Separation anxiety is a very frequent occurrence.
Separation anxiety in cats, according to Dr. Herron, is often undiagnosed. When neighbors complain about continuous barking while the owners are away, or when home objects are chewed on and/or urinated on, among other activities that leave their mark, dogs may be recognized as having the issue.
While it would be unusual for cats to bark in pain, they do sometimes cry out if no one is around to hear them. Cats are known to pee outside of the litter box, often on the cat parents’ bed or anything soft with a comforting smell. People may not be able to fit the jigsaw pieces together and make the link that this behavior happens only when cat is alone at home.
When you’re not home, use a home camera to observe what your cat is up to. But bear in mind that even this may be deceiving in the case of cats. Cats, for example, may sleep when we leave the home (much more so than many dogs). The narrative is told by the manner the cat sleeps and the location where the cat sleeps.
- A cat resting in a hiding spot, such as the back of a coat closet or beneath a bed, may be worried.
- A cat resting on his or her side is most often content. However, a cat sleeping stiffly, like an Egyptian sphinx, is not at ease and may be in discomfort or frightened.
The terrible thunderstorm has arrived.
Thunderstorms are also a phobia for some cats. Fearful or phobic cats, according to Drs. Pike and Herron, seek a secure and quiet haven to escape to. Close the windows and lower the blinds if the noise is coming from outside (such as fireworks or thunderstorms). Classical music has been proven to be soothing, according to Dr. Herron. “But not the 1812 Overture,” says the narrator.
How can I assist?
There is some positive news to report. Today, we’re all a little better at identifying frightened and phobic cats, and as a result, there are finally some excellent solutions available to assist them. Try one or all of the following tools:
- If the fear is low to moderate, you have a decent chance of distracting the cat from the loud storm sounds — and sometimes even from the fact that no one is home for cats with separation anxiety. Dr. Herron believes that feeding Bonita Flakes or concealing favorite goodies in a puzzle toy or snuffle mat may instantly alter a cat’s brain from fear to hunting drive.
Amazon.com: $12.99 coonoe Pet Snuffle Mat for Cats
- It’s simpler to change behavior when sounds are predictable, such as fireworks or a vacuum cleaner (because you know exactly when the stressor is going to happen). Desensitization (exposing the cat to what terrifies him at a low intensity) and counterconditioning (changing the cat’s instinctive reaction to something he is frightened of to something he loves, usually using rewards) are two behavior modification methods that may assist. Clients may be guided through these methods by a veterinarian, veterinary behaviorist, veterinary technician boarded in behavior, or a trained cat behavior consultant.
- The effects of cat-specific music on behavior and physiological stress response of domestic cats at a veterinary clinic were studied by researchers at Louisiana State University, who published their findings in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery in February 2019. According to the findings, music produced specifically for cats “may help cats by reducing stress levels.” Do you want to attempt this with your cat at home? Music created especially for cats, such as Through a Cats Ear and iCalmPet, is available.
Album is available for download for $30. Through a Cat’s Ear’s Cat Calming, tailored music; icalmpet.com
- Distraction and/or the items mentioned here may not help if the fear is more severe or if we’re talking about a true phobia. “It’s difficult to learn when a cat is too aroused,” Dr. Pike adds. “You need some kind of intervention to alter the brain chemistry, which is likely to be a psychopharmaceutical.” The aim is not to sedate; rather, it is to reduce fear and anxiety so that new learning may take place and behavior modification and other products can be implemented.”
Feliway is a favorite of both veterinary behaviorists (a pheromone product that helps cats feel more comfortable in their environments). Nutraceuticals may also be beneficial. Both Solliquin and ANXITANE include L-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in green tea that promotes the generation of alpha brain waves, which helps soothe nervous animals while keeping them attentive. However, goods containing L-theanine may be difficult to come by at this time.
Feliway Classic 30-Day Starter Kit Calming Diffuser for Cats is $29.99 and can be found at chewy.com.
Drs. Herron and Pike are big fans of Zylkene because, like L-theanine products, it’s backed up by research. Zylkene is a relaxing supplement that includes hydrolyzed milk protein. In addition, most cats find Zylkene to be very tasty.
$29.95; chewy.com; Vetoquinol Zylkene Behavior Support Capsules, 30 small dog and cat supplement, 75 mg
- CBD (cannabidiol) is what behaviorists are asked about the most, but research on its effects on cats is relatively young compared to studies on CBD and people, and laws differ from state to state.
Calmer Canine by Assisi Animal Health is intended for dogs, but Dr. Pike has had success with it in treating extremely nervous cats, especially those with separation anxiety. The Calmer Canine gadget uses targeted pulsed electromagnetic field (tPEMF) impulses to target the part of the brain that causes anxiety. It efficiently restores a more balanced emotional state in the worried brain, with long-term benefits. There are no known adverse effects, unlike medicines.
$199 for a size S or XS Calmer Canine Anxiety Treatment System: Vest and Device; www.calmerk9.com
Calming Canine has anecdotal evidence of helping cats with a range of anxiety-related problems, including separation anxiety, sensitivity to stray cats, overgrooming, and fear/aggression among cats sharing a home, according to Assisi Animal Health Chief Business Officer Dr. Judy Korman.
- Cats are excellent hunters, but they are also natural scaredy-cats. They are programmed to seek a place to hide or, as Dr. Herron, senior director of Behavioral Medicine, Education, and Outreach at Gigi’s Rescue in Columbus, Ohio, puts it, “seeking a secure and comfortable sanctuary” when survival mode kicks in.
Mau’s Vevo Double Cat Bed ($79) (increases in height to provide a comfortable hiding spot); maupets.com
Mau’s Vevo double cat bed — a comfortable, hand-woven basket that doubles in height when the sides are up — and Armarkat’s pumpkin-shaped covered plush bed are two examples of cubby holes and cat caves available for purchase. The No. 1 thing you can do to assist your frightened kitten is to provide him with a nice, warm environment — one that smells like his favorite humans, which is even more comfortable and therefore reassuring.
The cat calming is a book that helps cats with fears and phobias. It includes information on how to help your cat overcome their fear or phobia, as well as a list of resources for further reading.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I help my cat overcome fear?
Cats are naturally afraid of things that they cannot see. If you want to help your cat overcome their fear, try using a laser pointer and playing with them in the dark.
What can you give cats for anxiety?
Some people recommend giving cats a small amount of fish oil or salmon oil. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids in these foods are good for your cats brain health.
Why is my cat so afraid of everything?
It is possible that your cat may be scared of something in the environment. I recommend you try to find out what it is and make sure it doesnt happen again.
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