Monday, April 22, 2019

What You Need to Know About Separation Anxiety in Cats

Hola kitties. How many of you know a cat with separation anxiety? You all know one cos this little ghetto kitteh has it. Truth. I had a really bad case when I first moved in the condo. The peeps were convinced I'd been adopted once before and returned to the shelter or abandoned.

What You Need to Know About Separation Anxiety in Cats

Not only did I cry if I'd wake up and one of the peeps wasn't in the same room as I was; but when TW came home from work, she'd hear me the moment she stepped off the elevator. She stayed home with me the week after I moved in but then she had to go back to work. She heard my wailing three floors below us. Ten days after I moved in, Pop went in to have back surgery. When Pop came home, he kept me company for a month and I was satiated. Once he too went back to work, the wailing began in earnest again. TW didn't know then what she knows now or she could have alleviated some of my anxiety.

What You Need to Know About Separation Anxiety in Cats
Sadly, humans are the last to know when their kitty has separation anxiety and others are loathe to tell them. We recently had a case in our community where a couple moved in and a week or so later went away for almost a month. Their kitty was home alone with new smells, new sounds and I'll bet kitty was in the dark.

Every time TW left the house be it early in the morning or midnight, she'd hear the kitty crying and she wasn't the only concerned neighbor. The first week, it was a soft desperate meow which by the third week became a tomcat-on-a-fence type wail. It got so TW hated going out into the hall. She tried to reach out to the neighbor who rebuffed her. She tried to play with kitty who looked forward to those brief playtimes—brief cos kitty would usually waste no time stealing the feather or whatever TW could fit under the door.

So what should a human do to try to alleviate a lonely and scared cat? You may think it's enough to have someone who may not be sensitive to a cat's needs come in once a day to feed kitty and scoop the box. It's not. Ideally someone  should be staying there 24/7 to tend to kitty. I know this is not possible in most situations. In those situations, kitty could be boarded or the friend could take kitty to their house. Again, this might not be feasible since the friend might have their own pets or their landlord won't permit pets. Some cats don't do well being boarded like my furrend Herbie who nearly had a nervous breakdown when his humans boarded him and his sibs.

What You Need to Know About Separation Anxiety in Cats

Sad, the only course of action is to leave kitty alone and have a sitter come in. You would hope that sitter would stop by twice a day and spend at least a half hour each time with your kitty. There are ways to help with kitty's separation anxiety when the sitter can't be around.
  1. Before you leave, buy a calming collar for your kitty. Let your kitty wear it for a week before you leave so you can see if the kitty is going to have an allergic reaction.
  2. Leave a bottle of Pet Rescue Remedy or Jackson Galaxy's Separation Anxiety Remedy Spirit Essence for the sitter to put in your kitty's food or water. I don't advise using a Feliway defuser because they can drip or catch fire.
  3. Put items of your worn clothes where kitty likes to sleep so kitty has a familiar scent.
  4. Scatter kitty's favorite toys around so they have a diversion.
  5. Leave soft music on the radio so kitty won't feel so alone.
  6. Call your kitty with daily messages so they'll hear your voice.
  7. Be like Motel 6 and leave a night light on. It's not true that cats can see in total darkness and that's especially true if kitty is in unfamiliar territory.
My peeps were only gone from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but I might have relaxed more if they knew any of these tips. Do you have any tips to add to this list?

*Don't forget to hover for the secret messages.


Brian said...

That's all so true, I really dislike it when the peeps leave the house, ever if it's only for a little while.

The Swiss Cats said...

That's so sad for any kitty suffering from separation anxiety ! You give us great tips, and we were touched by your testimonial. Purrs

Sandee said...

Great advice. We need to always think about what we are doing to our babies, before we leave to go somewhere.

Have a fabulous day and week. ♥

Summer at said...

While I don't exactly have separation anxiety, I do get upset when my human leaves for an overnight without me. And it is specific to her - having an overnight pet sitter is helpful, but it doesn't replace being with her.

Eastside Cats said...

Gosh, we are really lucky to have The Hubby hanging 'round the house all of the time! I think The PO'M gets anxious too, when I'm not around for him, 'cause he jumps on me at every chance he gets!

Catscue Cat Mom said...

Good advice as usual, wonderful article - thank you.

Chirpy Cats said...

I'm glad you mentioned #7 because the hubby seems to think cats can see in total darkness. I got the Chirpies motion detector lights for when they need to use their litter boxes at nights with lights off.

I read all your posts on FB about that poor kitty who was left behind. Ah, some humans won't listen. great advice for others to be aware too!

xx from the Chirpies

pilch92 said...

I feel so bad for that kitty next door. My niece's cat used to have separation anxiety until she got him a friend.XO

Melissa, Mudpie and Angel Truffles (Mochas, Mysteries and Meows) said...

Mudpie definitely suffers from separation anxiety, even if I'm just in the next room and she didn't see me go there. I can't understand what your new neighbors were thinking :( Fabulous post!

The Island Cats said...

Those are good tips, CK. The mom leaves a radio on for us and sometimes the TV.

Holly said...

Lights, radio or tv, put puzzle toys around, change it up to keep things interesting. It is no substitute for their peeps of course but at least it might make it a little more like home. When I do a sit I do stay the full time I’m hired for, even if the cats don’t want to interact with me. I talk, sing, read a book. Tell them their peeps love them and will be home in so many days.

Rene said...

Our Tucker used to have separation anxiety. When we lived in an apartment building and had to go away, the next-door neighbor cared for him and would sometimes bring him over to her place. He liked her and this helped a lot. She could stop by several times per day. After we moved in with Benny and now-husband, that helped too--having other "beings" around to love on.

Lola The Rescued Cat said...

This is a great post, CK. That poor little kitty next door! Those peeps are mean! Lexy had separation anxiety when she first moved in. Luckily for Mommy she got over it in about 6 months. She still misses Mommy when she goes away, but she's much more comfortable now.

da tabbies o trout towne said... lee awesum post two day ...we wish we had sum tipz ta add but we iz comin up clue lezz...ya got all de bases covered we think.... N any time TW & pops leeve for de day; head on over ta trout towne; therz all wayz trubull ta get in two heer :) ♥♥

jank1961 said...

We've heard of this more with dogs, but didn't realize cats could have it too! We've almost always had multiple cats and didn't have an issue. But that's not always possible either. These are great tips in here, and we hope more people become aware that their cats might have it and how they can help.
Jan & the crew at Wag 'n Woof Pets

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

I think Ellie suffers from separation anxiety. There are lots of times she'll wake me up howling - I guess because she doesn't know I'm in bed. If I call to her a couple times, she'll come in and stop crying. I guess all cats show it differently. Bear won't eat for the first couple days I'm gone.

Kitties Blue said...

C.K., this is an excellent post with so many great tips. Some of the new laser toys have timers you can set to have them come on a few times during the day for something like ten minutes at a time. If you have a place for bird TV, make certain the curtains are left open so kitty can see outside. With some of the pet cams, you can talk to your kitty and dispense treats. Of course, you can always get you’re kitty a companion! We know you would never stand for that C.K. Our humans cannot travel anywhere now because of Sawyer. Even if our pet sitter would live-in, she still has to go to work! XOCK, angel Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo, Cooper Murphy and Sawyer

Three Chatty Cats said...

These are great tips if you have to leave your cat alone. I'm glad that our cat sitter stays the night when we leave. I feel so bad for your neighbor kitty.