Anxiety in Cats: 10 Tips for Helping Your Feline Friend Relax

Posted by John O'Keefe on

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Are you concerned that your cat is dealing with anxiety? When you start to notice behavioral changes, it's time to take action. With new toys, supplements, or cat-friendly spaces, you may help improve your furry friend's emotional well-being.

Read on to learn 10 tips for helping to reduce anxiety in cats!

1. Schedule Playdates with Your Cat

Your cat needs exercise to gain mental stimulation and maintain a healthy weight. If you're initiating the exercise, they'll love spending time with you — and de-stress in the process. Block out a few 15-minute playdates each day to ensure that your cat gets the exercise it needs.

Roughly 60% of cats are overweight. With that extra weight comes a higher risk of depression or anxiety. Grab a laser pointer, cat dancer, or feather wand to get your cat running and jumping!

2. Be Present But Not Overbearing

Cats aren't always as interested in being petted when they're stressed. Even though you might want to pick up your cat to give it a hug, take a step back.

If your cat is anxious due to an environmental or routine change, give them some space. In fact, they might just appreciate having you nearby. Pay attention to your cat's habits so you can know when to give distance.

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3. Create a Comfy Retreat

Your cat needs a soft, warm space where they can feel safe curling up for a nap. Some cats like to remain hidden, too, so gauge your cat's preferences before buying a bed. Consider getting your cat a condo, cat tree, tunnel, or even a box with a warm blanket inside.

Sprinkle some catnip or toss a few toys on the bed. Then place it by a wall in your room. You'll communicate to your cat that this bed is their designated space!

4. Give Your Cat Space to Climb 

If your cat is anxious, give them some room to climb. Consider adding a vertical cardboard scratching post or multi-level cat tree to your living room. Scratching helps cats maintain sharper nails and stretch their limbs — and climbing puts them at ease.

As another suggestion, install some small shelves that move up your wall. Your cat will love scaling the wall to reach the highest point in the room.

Don't have space for more pet furniture or mini shelves? Clear some space on your bookshelf or mantle so your cat always knows it can climb.

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5. Calming Oils May Help with Feline Anxiety

Try aromatherapy and calming oils as another form of help for your cat. Cats love the smell of catnip, mint, lavender, and fruit. Test out a few options with your cat to see what they respond to best.

CBD oil for cats may provide some relief for your furry friends, too. Experts recommend that you start with a lower dosage appropriate for your cat's weight. Mix the oil into your cat's favorite food and observe your cat to see how they respond.

6. Provide Plenty of Toys 

Your cat needs toys to stay stimulated — so make sure you introduce some new ones! Toys stuffed with catnip are always a good bet. And tunnels made of crinkly paper will provide hours of fun. The crinkly noise reminds a cat of what it's like to be outside in a field of grass.

Are you on a budget? Old bottle caps and plastic golf balls will have your cat racing around the house. Exercise is the perfect antidote to anxiety.

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7. Gentle Music Could Reduce Anxiety in Cats

Playing soft music may help soothe your cat. When you see that your cat is anxious, pop in some delicate instrumental music or nature sounds. Classical music is a strong choice, too.

It's especially good to do this before you head to bed at night. An anxious cat may be more likely to settle down, too, if they have the right soundtrack. 

8. Stick with a Routine

Have you moved or changed jobs recently? When you make significant life changes your cat will notice.

Cats feel safer when there's a sense of structure to their days. When your presence becomes unpredictable, they may experience feline anxiety.

If possible, try to maintain the same schedule each day. Working consistent hours and eating dinner at the same time gives your cat something to anticipate. Remember that your cat is building its life around what you do!

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9. Dish Out the Cat Treats

Giving your cat a treat and some loving attention will help ease your cat's stress. Go with treats that are formulated to meet the needs of your cat's digestive system. Look for labels that advertise nutrients and vitamins — and treats that are low in sodium.

This doesn't mean you should start handing your cat table scraps. Homemade treats made with small amounts of cooked chicken or fish are okay every so often. But avoid feeding your cat toxic foods like grapes, onions, and salt.

10. Talk with Your Veterinarian

When in doubt, ask your veterinarian for guidance if none of these actions work. A board-certified veterinarian will be able to assess your cat for other problems that may be triggering the anxiety. Your cat may have underlying urinary or thyroid issues that cause them to act out.

A veterinarian may be able to refer you to a cat behavior consultant who can work with your cat. They'll be able to develop a treatment plan including behavioral modifications and medication.

Address Pet Anxiety Now

While it may be tough to see your feline friend feeling stressed, there are ways to relieve anxiety in cats. Provide more places for your cat to escape. And give them the blend of structure and love that they need to be happy.

When you're ready to give your cat a boost, contact us and we can help!

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