Some cats do not cope well with new people or new experiences. This can be due to a combination of your cat’s genetic predisposition to anxiety, the environment that it is in and what it has learned from past experiences.
Your cat may have anxiety if you notice any of these signs:
- Hiding under things when people visit
- Running from window to window in the house
- Going to the toilet outside the litter tray
- Hissing and growling at anything new in the house
- Spending most of the day hiding in one spot
6 steps to reduce anxiety in cats
You cannot alter your cat’s genetic predisposition towards anxiety, but you can change your cat’s environment and teach it new behaviours to make it less anxious.
A set daily routine reduces anxiety because your cat knows what to expect throughout the day.
2. Safe haven
Provide your cat with a place where everyone in the family knows to leave it alone. A safe haven should be an enclosed area, preferably somewhere high up. A small enclosed bed on a bookshelf is a good example.
3. Reduce competition
Make sure your cat has its own food and water bowl and its own litter tray. If you have other pets in your household, make sure your cat can’t get trapped at these locations by other pets.
4. De-sensitisation and counter-conditioning
De-sensitisation refers to slowly exposing your cat to whatever makes it anxious in a non-threatening way, so it becomes used to it.
Counter-conditioning changes the bad associations good ones by rewarding your cat every time she sees the thing that makes her anxious. Please contact us if you feel your cat could benefit from this.
5. Environmental enrichment
Distracting your cat throughout the day will help to reduce its anxiety. Have some set play times during the day with your cat. Have toys that dispense food or tunnels and hidey holes for them to play in.
Some cats are so anxious they cannot cope without medication to reduce their anxiety. Please contact us if you believe this is the case.
Please contact us at Ovens & Kiewa Veterinary Hospital if you'd like any more information.
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