Anxiety Cat in Separation

"Anxiety cat in separation is possible and is often related to early weaning from the mother. To overcome this problem you can used behavioral modification to distract your cat when you are leaving, get them used to the idea of you being out of the house, or as a last resort, natural remedies that help to calm the nervous system."

Many people are aware of separation anxiety in dogs, but do not realize that cats can also suffer from separation anxiety. Cats may experience separation anxiety when separated from their owner or when separated from a companion animal.

Anxiety Cat in Separation Symptoms

Anxiety cat in separation symptoms are similar to those seen in dogs. Symptoms include vocalizing loudly when the owner is gone, inappropriate urination or defecating, and excessive grooming (sometimes to the point of causing bald spots). Your cat may follow you around the house when you are home. Symptoms may also include destructive behavior like chewing or clawing furniture, but this is less common.

Cats are more likely to experience these symptoms while left alone, but you may notice inappropriate urination or excessive grooming even when you are home. Other symptoms include following the owner from room to room, hiding when the owner is about to leave the house, or getting between the owner and the door as if to prevent the owner from leaving. You might find your cat urinating on items that hold your scent.

Diagnosing Anxiety Cat in Separation

If your cat is displaying symptoms of separation anxiety, it’s important to talk to your vet. There could be a medical reason for the symptoms you are seeing. For instance, inappropriate urination could be a sign of a urinary tract infection, and excessive grooming could be caused by an allergy.

Your vet will probably do some tests, including blood tests and a urinalysis, to help make a diagnosis. Your vet may also take an x-ray to check for blockage in the intestines.

Treating Anxiety Cat in Separation

There are a couple of ways to treat anxiety cat in separation. It can be treated behaviorally or it can be treated medically.

Behavioral approaches to separation anxiety include various ways to keep the cat busy while the owner is not home and establishing a new routine around leaving the house. Experts suggest having special toys that are only out when the owner is gone. Especially popular are toys that have holes for dispensing treats. You can make one of these toys yourself by closing the ends of a toilet paper tube and then poking holes along the sides. Treats fall out as the cat plays with the toy. You can also buy a brand of toys called KONG Naturals Crinkle Tail Teaser Catnip Cat Toy which provides a catnip reward when your cat discovers the hidden pocket. .

Experts also suggest establishing a new routine before leaving the house and when coming home. Ignoring your cat for 15 minutes before and after going out may help to accustom the cat to being without your attention. It will be a gradual step towards being alone. You could also try leaving for a minute and then returning. Slowly extend the amount of time you are away.

If you notice severe symptoms of stress in your cat, you should see your vet. Your vet can prescribe medication for anxiety, such as Prozac. Medication should be the last resort, though. Try the environmental and behavioral changes first. You could also try natural remedies that are known to calm the nervous system such as Scutellaria laterifolia (Scullcap). One product to research that is made specifically for this purpose is PetAlive PetCalm Formula for anxious and stressed pets.

If these measures don’t work, you might want to work with an animal behaviorist. This is a specialist who can give you more suggestions on how to deal with anxiety cat in separation.


Katharine Hillestad
Separation Anxiety in Cats
Arnold Plotnik, DVM

Arnold Plotnik, DVM
Separation Anxiety in Cats

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