As time has gone on throughout the pandemic, the chances are that your cat will have grown very close to you. This is because the transition towards working from home and the various periods of lockdown will have given you the opportunity to spend a lot more time together.
As such, now that more and more employers are starting to invite their employees back to the office, cat separation anxiety is a growing issue that many owners around the globe are likely to face over the coming months.
Whether you’re needing to leave them on their own for a few hours or over a much longer timeframe, separation anxiety can be a trying time for both you and your cat so we thought we’d try and help.
Join us as we run through some of the best ways to prevent your cat from feeling confused and disorientated after the pandemic, highlighting a few hints to keep separation anxiety at bay.
What is separation anxiety?
Before we get into the ins and outs of how to reduce cat separation anxiety, it’s important to first understand what exactly it is.
In simple terms, separation anxiety refers to the stress felt by pets when an animal is kept away from its owner. While it may bot rarer in cats than in other types of domestic animals, certain breeds – like Siamese, Burmese and house cats – are particularly prone to it.
What’s more, in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic, approximately 49% of cat owners are said to be concerned about separation anxiety becoming more and more of an issue moving forward.
This, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 on veterinary practices, is largely because of how overly attached and dependent their cats have become during the past few months, with many kittens bought during the pandemic unlikely to have encountered large periods of time without their owner before.
The key signs
Signs of separation anxiety can differ from cat to cat but, generally speaking, there are a few key ones to look out for. These include:
· Spraying. If your cat starts to feel stressed, they are more likely to start spraying – ejecting urine while having a rigid, yet slightly quivering tail.
· Constant meowing. If your cat is suddenly wanting a lot of attention and meowing more often than usual, this can be a sign of over-dependence, highlighting that they feel stressed when you aren’t at home.
· Grooming changes. When cats feel stressed, they will often change their grooming routine – either grooming themselves excessively or not much at all.
If you notice any of these changes in your cat’s behaviour, you should initially consult your vet for their advice. Then, using the tips below, you will be able to reduce the likelihood of separation anxiety becoming an issue moving forward.
1. Keep boredom at bay
While it may sound fairly obvious, the less bored your cat is, the less likely it will be to turn to its owner for stimulation. So, why not invest in a few ways to keep them entertained in your absence?
If your cat enjoys spending time outside, for example, encourage them to venture outdoors while you’re not there by investing in a cat flap.
Likewise, consider purchasing a scratching post and a few toys to keep your cat entertained. That way, you’ll be able to provide them with a few sources of entertainment while you’re not at home.
2. Create a relaxing setting
When you think about it, how would you calm yourself down if you were stressed? Many of us would start by trying to create as relaxing an atmosphere as possible, so why not do the same for your cat?
In the same way lavender relaxes us, pheromone sprays and plug-ins are a great way of relaxing your pet. These devices use a man-made version of the substance that cats deposit when they rub their cheek on you or your furniture, helping them to feel more relaxed when they are surrounded by it.
3. Avoid getting another cat
While you may think that getting another cat will solve the problem of your cat feeling lonely without you around, it could actually make things worse.
This is because it can be difficult to confuse separation anxiety with loneliness – the reason for their stress is due to an over-attachment with their owner, rather than feeling lonely.
Therefore, regardless of whether there is another cat in the house or not, this feeling is unlikely to change. Plus, since cats are very territorial animals, they could become even more stressed with a new addition in their space.
While separation anxiety may be rare in cats, it’s important to be aware of the issue – especially now that the lockdown restrictions are being loosened.
However, as the points above should now prove, spotting the signs in advance and preventing the issue from manifesting into a bigger problem can be a lot easier than you might think.