Like humans, cats can develop anxiety and need support and treatment to help them manage the condition and recover as much as possible. So, being aware of the signs of anxiety in cats can allow you to quickly spot when your cat isn't doing OK and put measures in place to help. Anxiety tends to develop when your cat anticipates a threat, which may or may not be justified. It can be triggered by trauma, illness, pain or being separated from you for long periods. Some cats, particularly rescue cats, can develop anxiety as a result of not experiencing proper socialisation as kittens. This can leave them feeling like normal social contact and noises around the home signal danger.
Signs Of Anxiety In Cats
General signs of anxiety in cats can include pacing, hiding, excessive grooming and hypervigilance. A cat with mild anxiety may also avoid eye contact with you, keep their tail close to their body and often have dilated pupils. A severely anxious cat may freeze or try to get away from you when you approach them. Their ears are likely often pinned back and they may seem aggressive, which can present as scratching and hissing.
Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety In Cats
Your vet will diagnose anxiety by taking details of behavioural changes in your cat and any other physical symptoms you have observed. They will carry out a physical examination and may take blood samples to help establish the cause of your cat's anxiety. You will be asked about any changes at home that could have triggered anxiety or whether your cat has experienced any trauma.
There are a few different ways to treat anxiety in cats and the right treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Treating an undiagnosed health condition that's causing pain can free your cat of the symptoms of anxiety, but other causes can be trickier to treat. Your vet may refer your cat to a pet behavioural therapist to learn some coping strategies and desensitise your cat to their anxiety triggers. This can be particularly beneficial for those who feel anxious in social settings or when separated from you. Anxiety medication can also be beneficial and works by altering your cat's brain chemistry to improve mood regulation and reduce stress.
If you suspect your cat is suffering from anxiety, make an appointment to discuss their symptoms with your vet. Untreated anxiety can worsen over time, so it's important to address the problem and get your cat the help they need to be happy and healthy.
If you need veterinary services, contact a local animal hospital.