Do you have a “scaredy-cat” on your hands? That term itself may be cute, but the reality and potential severity behind it is not. In this blog, we’ll address why your feline friend may be suffering from cat anxiety and will offer some tips on calming cats.
Understanding cat anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety yourself, you likely know the feeling, but for those of you who do not, anxiety is the anticipation of dangers from the unknown that may emerge in the future; this anticipation and fear often results in bodily reactions (also known as physiologic reactions).
Symptoms of cat anxiety
So, now that you know what cat anxiety is, what should you look out for as indicators that your cat is suffering? The most common visible behaviors include elimination (urination or bowel movements), destruction of surroundings, excessive grooming, and excessive crying or meowing.
What causes cat anxiety?
Some pet owners notice these symptoms as a result of their absence at any given time; this is known as separation anxiety and can be fairly common among companion animals. Other potential causes include pain or illness, an infectious disease, exposure to something toxic, a psychological trigger (such as a past traumatic experience, lack of socialization or neglect, or abuse), an aging brain (one experiencing dementia, for example), or a new life event (such as a new family member or new home).
If you suspect your cat is experiencing anxiety, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help rule out (or treat) any medical issues that are causing or presenting as anxiety.
The most important thing to know here is that you should never punish or scold your cat when he is feeling anxious. Doing so will only increase negative associations with the fear he is feeling and will only make the situation worst. Instead, you want to do whatever you can to make him feel safer.
If your vet has prescribed anti-anxiety medication, that’s a great place to start. However, some cats may also benefit from an animal trainer or behaviorist who can help with behavioral and counter-conditioning. Behavioral conditioning involves identifying fear triggers and desentizing your cat from the triggers or removing the triggers from his surroundings. Counter-conditioning, on the other hand, involves training your cat to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. Either form of conditioning will help your cat learn that it’s safe to relax rather than being fearful.
To better understand common cat behaviors and how to train your cat, we recommend heading here.
Coconut oil for cats
If you’ve got an anxious cat on your hand, it’s important to make sure you take him to the vet to rule out any underlying medical issues and to do the conditioning necessary to modify behaviors. That being said, you can also use Skinny Coconut Oil to help treat symptoms of illness that may be causing anxiety or to reduce the behaviors by offering it as a treat during counter-conditioning. (Just make sure you speak to your vet and/or behaviorist about this first!)