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Cats may have a reputation for being independent, but separation anxiety in cats and kittens is real. That said, all cats have different personalities, and some cats are more sensitive to separation anxiety than others. Keep reading to learn how to tell if your cat has separation anxiety and how you can help.

Signs Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety

While each cat is unique, there are common symptoms of separation anxiety which can include:

Some of these can also be signs of an underlying condition, so if something in your cat’s behavior suddenly changes, it’s always best to schedule a wellness check with your veterinarian to make sure.

Why Cats Get Separation Anxiety

There are many reasons why cats and kittens can develop separation anxiety, including a predisposition to anxiety as well as environmental factors. Separation anxiety can be more common due to these factors:

Any change in your cat’s routine can trigger separation anxiety, including moving to a new home, a person or pet joining or leaving your household, or starting a new job.

Senior Cats & Separation Anxiety

Senior cats can develop clingy behavior (including separation anxiety) which is often related to getting older. If your cat feels more vulnerable because their sight and hearing isn’t as sharp as it used to be, or if they’re experiencing cognitive dysfunction associated with aging, they’ll want to be around their caregiver and protector more often. Learn how to care for your senior cat to help them live their best life during their golden years.

How to Help a Cat or Kitten with Separation Anxiety

If your cat or kitten is anxious when you leave, here are some tips to help manage their anxiety:

If your cat has severe separation anxiety, you can help them learn to tolerate your absence better by planning a series of short outings and gradually increasing how long you’re away. This can help them learn that you’ll come back when you leave. You can also try having a friend, family member or pet sitter come over to play with your cat during longer absences, then reduce the length and frequency of these visits as your cat gets more comfortable being home alone.

If nothing seems to work, your vet might prescribe medication to help your cat relax, or suggest over the counter products such as calming pheromone sprays or plug-ins. 

What to Avoid if Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety

Sometimes things that seem like they might help could actually make the situation harder for your cat. For example, bringing another cat into your home might sound like a good way to prevent loneliness, but that’s a big change to your cat’s environment and will more likely add stress if they’re already experiencing anxiety.

Never punish your cat for unwanted behaviors stemming from separation anxiety. Your cat won’t understand why they’re being punished and it will undermine your relationship.

Don’t confine your cat to a crate or a single room while you’re away – this will only increase their stress and can lead to even more destructive behavior such as clawing at doors and windows.

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Cats

Here are some tips you can use to reduce the chances of your cat developing separation-related problems:

If you’re considering becoming a cat parent but worry about separation anxiety, here’s how to avoid it:

Remember: any sudden changes in your cat’s behavior warrant a conversation with your veterinarian to rule out possible medical reasons. Keep reading to learn more about how long it’s safe to leave your cat at home alone.

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