Friday, July 11, 2014

Separation Anxiety in Cats

Separation anxiety occurs when a pet doesn't like being separated from its owner or another companion pet.  Though it is more common in dogs, cats can suffer from separation anxiety as well.  

Signs of Separation Anxiety in Cats

Separation anxiety is typically more difficult to detect in felines than it is in dogs.  Some signs your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety include:

  • Excessive self-grooming.  If your cat is over-grooming, he or she may have bald spots on his or her body.
  • Vomiting - solely when you are away.
  • Vocalization when you leave.  You can check for vocalization in your abscence by recording your cat.
  • Inappropriate elimination.  Your kitty may urinate or defecate near the door or on your personal belongings in your absence.  
  • Destructive behaviors.  Though rare for cats to exhibit, your kitty may chew on or scratch door edges.  It's hypothesized that they do this in order to escape from solitary confinement.  
  • Over-attachment to you.  Your feline may follow you from one room to another while you're at home.
  • Anorexia.  Your cat may be too anxious or stressed to eat in your absence.
  • Exhibits an exuberant greeting upon your return.

The exact cause of separation anxiety isn't yet known.  However, researchers speculate that both genetic and environmental factors are involved.  It's believed that being weaned too early or being orphaned could put a kitten at risk for developing separation anxiety.


If your cat is exhibiting any of the symptoms described above, it's important that you take him or her to a veterinarian for a physical examination to rule out any underlying medical conditions.  If your vet gives your kitty a clean bill of health, there are several things you can do to treat separation anxiety.  

Some things that may help reduce your kitty's anxiety are:
  • Ignoring your cat 15 minutes before you leave home and for 15 minutes upon your return.
  • Providing distracting toys.
  • Giving your feline toys he or she especially loves before you leave and taking them away when you're home.
  • Providing a window perch or cat tree or tower in front of a window for your cat's entertainment.  Place a bird feeder outside the window so your cat has bird TV to watch while you're away.
  • Soft music or television may help your kitty feel less anxious while you're away as well.
  • Some felines enjoy "cat TV" - videos of birds, squirrels, etc.
  • Putting kibble or treats into food toys may also be entertaining in your absence.
If these suggestions don't work for your kitty, it may be wise to talk with your vet about getting a referral to a vet behaviorist specialist who can help you find ways to reduce your cat's anxiety.  In severe cases, anti-anxiety medication may be considered.

Have you ever had a cat with separation anxiety?  What helped him or her cope?


  1. Very interesting. None of us seem to suffer from this, fortunately.

  2. My first adoptee, Chumley, had been abandoned and I think he had separation anxiety. He didn't exhibit those symptoms, he had others. I do remember it took him a long, long time to understand that when I left the house in the morning to go to work, I WAS coming home at the end of the day. I adopted Annie a few months later, to keep him company, but he never quite got over that fear, I think.

  3. Maybe the humans should just stay home...always :)

  4. Miss Newton has a little bit of separation anxiety over dad. She loves him so much, sometimes she forgets what room he's in and meows frantically until he calls for her. Ditto when he's yet to come home from work. She knows when he needs to be home! To combat this, she has her own special toy that she talks to and carries around sometimes, she gets extra attention pretty much whenever she wants it, and she gets to stay in the big bedroom with Maxx, Tessa, and Ruby all night long to sleep with dad. All these have helped tremendously but we don't think she'll ever be completely cured of it.

  5. thanx full lee de food serviss gurl haz never hada kitteh ore a pup with separation anxiety...♥

    heerz two a longfinned smelt kinda week oh end !!

  6. I don't think Katie or Waffles has ever had a problem with this...though I always worry about that when we take a vacation. Fortunately I have an awesome cat sitter who, when we're gone for a long trip, will stay over.

  7. We don't have this problem, but we don't like when our beans go away. We're soooo happy when they come back (and they will pay for abandoning us after the enjoyment of reunions he he....) Purrs

  8. Dis be a weal purrawlem. Wees fawt dis wus a gweat posty. :)

    Luv ya'


  9. Thanks for the great info!
    Have a great weekend...

    Noodle and crew

  10. Great information! Luckily this isn't a problem we have had to deal with. Thanks for sharing!

  11. This is an interesting post! Mum thinks that sometimes I suffer from this, but I don't agree! :)

  12. Thanks for all the good advice. Dad is gone, and even though Mom is home, some of us have been misbehaving much to her dismay. XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo