Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide medical advice or diagnose or treat any health conditions. If your pet is experiencing issues with their health, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
A survey of 1,000 cat parents with 1,700 cats found that 24% of cats suffer from some form of anxiety, and of those, 20% of cats have multiple anxieties, such as thunderstorm anxiety, firework anxiety and separation anxiety. Just as being in a constant state of worry and stress can be detrimental to human health, happiness and longevity, it has a similar effect on cats. But a staggering 39% of people with cats think there’s nothing they can do to ease their cat’s anxiety. That’s untrue. The first step is to know the signs.
5 Signs Your Cat is Suffering from Anxiety
1. Acts Aggressive with Other People and Pets
Unlike dogs, who are often affectionate even to strangers, cats typically pick one human in the home with whom they feel closest. Are you this chosen human? It’s usually the person who plays with and feeds it most of the time. But it might also be a child or other non-threatening member of the household. When this person is not around to create a sense of safety, the cat may hiss, scratch, bite or even ambush other humans or pets in the home. This is one of the telltale signs of a cat with separation anxiety.
2. Meows a Lot for No Obvious Reason
Your cat might meow often while you’re away at work, or it may do it for hours after you get home. Cats have developed the ability to meow for one reason: to communicate. When meowing, your cat is trying to tell you something. That something may be a feeling of fear when you work long hours, leave for the weekend or go on vacation. Your cat may think you’re not coming back.
You might also notice this behavior after another animal in the home has passed away. A cat will often walk through the house making very sad sounds, sometimes for months or years after a loss. So pay attention and do your best to comfort your cat if its anxious due to grief.
3. Has “Accidents”
Cats are super-smart. Don’t think for a minute that it forgets how to use a litter box. When you’re not home, a cat with separation anxiety may urinate in odd places, including the front door because that’s the last place your cat saw you. It might also show anxiety by suddenly stopping using the litter box altogether. If this persists, you should definitely visit the vet to rule out a medical problem like a bladder infection.
4. Follows You Around All the Time
We all know that cats are very independent animals. While many of them like to cuddle, typically they don’t want to be glued to their human all the time. They should feel comfortable sleeping anywhere in your home. So if your cat is always next to you when you’re home, it’s possible it has anxiety. Another related behavior is when your cat meows outside the bathroom or bedroom door when you close it.
If your cat always sleeps next to you or cries for you when you leave the room, this means they likely don’t feel safe when you’re not home.
If this is the case, you should definitely rule out real reasons your cat may feel unsafe, such as an abusive human or mean cat in the house. But most cat anxiety, like human anxiety, is more of a perceived problem rather than a real threat.
5. Tears Up Your Home
Cats do like to play, but if your feline is actually tearing up the carpet, knocking over flower pots and doing other destructive things when you’re not home, you likely have a cat with separation anxiety.
Why Do Cats Get Separation Anxiety?
How does such a seemingly independent animal develop this condition? Often something triggers the first episode and then the anxiety may continue after that. Triggers include:
- The loss of a human or pet in the home (even if that human just went off to college).
- Moving to a new home.
- Daylight Savings. While cats don’t know the time has changed, they have internal clocks that tell them you’re late.
- Your consistent morning routine. Cats (and dogs) pick up on signals that they’re about to be left alone. Mix up your morning routine to break this cycle.
- Boredom. Leave some toys out for your cat to play with.
- You coming home at inconsistent times.
How to Help a Cat with Separation Anxiety
First, assess if there are any physical reasons that your cat may feel anxious and address that. Anxiety is a chronic fear that doesn’t go away even though there is no real danger. So the next step is to treat the anxiety. Veterinarians typically recommend a medication like feline Xanax or Valium, but you can also treat your cat’s anxiety naturally with CBD oil.
CBD is one of many active compounds found in the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, which also comes from cannabis, CBD is non-psychoactive. It can be derived from either marijuana or hemp, a non-intoxicating fiber of the cannabis plant. Hemp has extremely low levels of THC—0.3%—which can be completely removed during the extraction process. On the other hand, THC is the compound in cannabis that causes a euphoric high. But because CBD doesn’t get you high, it’s legal in all 50 states.
Studies show that CBD can help to alleviate anxiety naturally with no side effects. CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your cat’s body, a network of receptors that regulate mood, appetite, pain, memory and more. It doesn’t cause an altered mental state. CBD simply signals to the body that everything’s OK.
How to Administer CBD to Your Cat
CBD comes in many forms that you can give to your cat; from treats to tinctures, you have a variety of options. CBD tinctures with a dropper are generally the most popular, but be sure to check with your vet before you start any CBD regimen. A typical dose will vary depending on the size of your cat. Yet since cats are small, and it’s best to be conservative when dosing CBD for pets anyway, one single drop of high-quality CBD oil twice a day should suffice. If possible, place the drop under your cat’s tongue for optimal results. While there aren’t currently any FDA-recommended guidelines for CBD pet dosage, there are a number of CBD-friendly vets who can give you more insight on the best dosage for your cat.
Also, note that CBD comes in various strengths. The same 30 ml bottle might have 150 mg of CBD—or it could have 750 mg. How much your cat needs depends on how potent the CBD is. So look at the label when you talk to your vet to determine the dosage.
Choosing the Best CBD for Your Cat
When shopping for CBD products for pets, make sure you choose ones from a reputable distributor. Just as you would put only quality ingredients in your body, the same should go for your pets. Most pet owners start with something easy to dose, such as a CBD tincture, but there are also edibles and even topicals on the market for pets.
Typically, the best pet CBD products will contain:
- Natural ingredients.
- No artificial flavors or agents.
- Zero THC content, as THC is toxic to cats and dogs.
It’s equally important to look for a CBD company who conducts third-party lab testing to ensure the quality of their products, and that this information is freely accessible to the public.
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