Managing Cat Anxiety: Tips for Calming Nervous or Stressed Cats

by | Apr 16, 2024

Did you know anxiety can open the way for or even worsen certain medical conditions in cats? As a result, you may seek solutions for the conditions or unusual behaviors caused by the anxiety without realizing the root cause is the anxiety itself.

Let’s begin by identifying the signs and symptoms of anxiety in cats and then talk about how you can help your cat stay calm. To help you prevent the recurrence of cat anxiety, we’ve thrown in the causes of anxiety in the article. Keep reading to learn more. 

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety in Cats

Quickly, let’s look at the tell-tale signs of anxiety in cats: 

  1. Territorial behavior
  2. Overgrooming
  3. Aggression
  4. Over- or under-eating
  5. Peeing outside the litter box
  6. Hiding or trying to stay small and inconspicuous
  7. Dilated pupils, hair standing up, ears rotated back, or their tail tight against their body
  8. Restlessness
  9. Excessive vocalization

Anxiety in cats can also cause medical conditions, including upper respiratory infections (UFI) and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Some of the symptoms associated with these medical conditions include:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Discharge
  3. Difficulty urinating
  4. Congestion
  5. Increased need to urinate

6 Tips for Calming Your Nervous or Stressed Cats

Now that you can tell when your cat is likely anxious or stressed, check out these tips to alleviate the condition:

1. Engage Your Cat in Frequent Exercise

If your cat has a lot of energy, it’s only a matter of time before it develops into nervous energy. This is why exercise is important to channel that excess energy. Give them a lot of toys to play with, and engage your cat in regular playtime. 

Frequent exercise will not only help keep your cat calm, but it will also keep them healthy

, Managing Cat Anxiety: Tips for Calming Nervous or Stressed Cats, The Comforted Kitty

2. Create a Safe Environment for Your Cat

Cats are sensitive to any change in their environment. So, you have to create a space where they can feel safe regardless of what’s happening around the house. 

Having other pets in your home, a new baby or sound can trigger anxiety in your cat. To calm your cat in cases like this, you need to create a separate space for your cat away from the stressor. 

Keep the space dark (preferably dimly lit), cozy, and quiet. Ensure it has a mix of cat toys and essentials, including food, bedding, a litter box, water, and a scratching post. Then monitor your cat to see if they can stay there comfortably for a few days. 

Giving your cat a separate space might not be feasible if you live in a small house. In that case, you can get window perches, cat trees, or cat shelves. 

In addition to creating a separate space for your cat to ease their anxiety, you must give it as much attention as you give other pets so it doesn’t get jealous. Also, don’t feed them with your other pets. 

3. Consider Using Pheromone Sprays

, Managing Cat Anxiety: Tips for Calming Nervous or Stressed Cats, The Comforted Kitty

Pheromones are chemical substances released by some animals (including humans) that other animals of the same species can pick up on. These chemicals are like messengers, and in cats, they’re released from certain glands around their bodies. 

There’s a special type of pheromone cat release called the feline facial pheromone. This pheromone has a calming effect on cats. When your cat is feeling stressed or nervous, they also release a different type of pheromone that communicates what they are feeling. 

Synthetic pheromone sprays tend to mimic the positive pheromones that help calm your cat. If you notice anxiety in your cat, you can use these sprays to make them feel safe and calm. 

You can also get these artificial pheromones as room diffusers and place them in your cat’s space to foster a positive environment. There are several of these artificial pheromones on the market, and they’ve proven to be quite effective. Feliway is a good product to try out. 

4. Stick to a Regular Routine

Here’s something you should know about cats: they thrive on routine. Changes in routine can cause anxiety. Let playtime be set for a particular time daily. Additionally, follow a specific routine when feeding them. If you have to change your schedule, you have to introduce the new schedule gradually so you don’t make your cat anxious. 

Cleaning your cat’s litter box should also fall into your schedule. Cats are clean animals. They may feel reluctant to use a dirty litter box. As a result, they may start urinating or pooping outside the litter box. 

Recall that this is a sign of anxiety. So, you must incorporate cleaning their litter box frequently into your routine. 

, Managing Cat Anxiety: Tips for Calming Nervous or Stressed Cats, The Comforted Kitty

5. Get Natural Calming Supplements

Natural calming supplements and herbs are becoming quite popular these days for calming your nervous or stressed cat. Examples of these natural calming herbs include chamomile, lemon balm, valerian root, skullcap, hops, and ashwagandha. 

Some calming supplements include:

    • Bach Flower Rescue Remedy: Bach Flower Rescue Remedy is a stress reliever made from a mix of water and flowers (Rock Rose, Clematis, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Star of Bethlehem). 
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil: CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants, and it can be an effective solution to cat anxiety. You can get CBD for your cat in various forms, including oils, capsules, and treats. However, never give your cat marijuana. Marijuana contains another compound called THC, which is toxic to pets. 

While natural calming supplements are gaining groundwork for being effective in minimizing anxiety in cats, some may not work for your cat. So, test the herb or supplement of your choice for a couple of days to see how it affects your cat. 

6. See a Vet

If you’ve tried all the tips and none works, consult your vet to administer anti-anxiety medications. You can also ask the vet for anti-anxiety diets and treats that are safe for cats. Don’t administer anti-anxiety medications for humans or dogs to your cat without a vet’s knowledge. Your vet may also advise you on habits to incorporate to reduce the occurrence of anxiety in your cat. 

Behavioral Training Techniques for Cat Anxiety

There are two behavioral techniques you can adopt to manage your cat’s anxiety. These techniques don’t work to calm your cat but rather to cope with the stressor.

1. Counterconditioning

Counterconditioning is a way to change your cat’s response to the cause of anxiety. If the anxiety is triggered by other pets in your home, you can feed the cat treats in their presence. This can help change the feeling of anxiety to a positive one. Consequently, even when you stop treating them in the presence of other pets, you’ve conditioned the cat’s response to seeing the other pets. 

2. Desensitization

Desensitization involves exposing your cats frequently to anxiety stimuli at varying intensities. For example, if certain sounds cause your cat anxiety, you can start playing that sound to them, beginning at a low volume. Over time, you increase it to help them get used to this sound. 

When you do this repeatedly, they become familiar with the sound and learn to stay calm when they hear the real sound. Keep treats handy during this training. 

Causes of Anxiety in Cats

Some of the causes of anxiety in cats include: 

  1. Traumatic experience
  2. Other cats and pets in your home
  3. A change of environment
  4. Illness
  5. Physical pain

Hire a Trained Cat Sitter That Can Manage Your Kitty’s Stress

Even though cats are generally perceived to be independent pets, they are sensitive to things happening around them and can get nervous. But if you have to be away, how do you ensure your cat stays safe and calm? That’s where The Comforted Kitty’s cat sitters come in. 

If you’re a cat parent in Sacramento, Las Vegas, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, you can rely on our trained cat sitters to take your cat through their regular routine to ensure they don’t feel your absence so much. 

Our cat-sitting services extend beyond the regular cat-sitting essentials — feeding your cat, cleaning their litter box, and filling their water bowl. In addition to those, your sitter will also pet, play, and interact with your cat. 

Your sitter is trained to detect any sign of anxiety and can implement effective tips to ease the anxiety. So you can rest assured that your cat is in good hands. To keep your mind at ease wherever you are, the sitter will send you pictures of your cat at different intervals with an update on how things are going. 

That’s not all. Your sitter can also help you do some tasks around the house, like watering your plants, taking out the garbage, and getting your mail. So what are you waiting for? Hurry now and schedule your next cat sitting with The Comforted Kitty today! Book your next appointment here

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