Here’s how to help your anxious cat
When cats are hiders, they are often referred to as “stereotypical, antisocial cats”. But the truth is, they may feel scared. You don’t have to feel like this, and it can actually be dangerous to let it go on.
“Cats in chronic anxiety can get sick, so this correlates with urinary tract disease, GI disease, even skin and dental disease,” says Dr. Liz Bales, VMD.
The biggest reason for Kitty’s fear? Mother Nature.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that cats weren’t domesticated,” says Dr. Bales. “Cats evolved with humans because they were great hunters, keeping our food safe … What we really have is an animal that lives in captivity.”
Outside, your sofa lion would eat and live the way it was designed. However, this doesn’t mean that you need to feel guilty as a parent or leave your cat outdoors. You just need to get inside your kitten’s head.
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“The most important way to deal with your cat’s anxiety is to understand how your cat sees the world and to make sure it feels safe and has its minimum needs,” says Dr. Bales.
Dr. Bales explains why cats feel anxious and how they can make them feel more comfortable.
Feed the beast
People often eat three meals and maybe one or two snacks a day. Dogs usually eat twice a day. We often try to bring cats on a similar schedule. The problem is, this goes against their instincts.
“Mother Nature has given every cat the drive to hunt, catch, play with and then eat eight to 12 mice a day,” says Dr. Bales. “You’re not sitting at a bowl and having a big meal. They are on the hunt all the time [in the wild]. ”
At a minimum, Bales suggests placing small portions of food around the house so the cat has to look for it. But it’s better if you can go a step further.
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Meal time is an interactive process. If your cat wakes you up at 5 a.m. and her bowl is full, you will still be asked to feed her. Dr. Bales says they have to hunt, catch, and then eat, so waking you up and getting you to feed them is part of the game.
Bales invented an indoor hunting lodge to simulate this for your cat (and hopefully you can catch some extra zzz).
Help your fearful cat by giving space to kittens
Cats aren’t just predators – they are prey and they need places where they feel like they can find a great escape.
“Imagine I’m taking you into a room,” says Dr. Bales. “Imagine the same room now, but I’ve taken away the doors and windows. How do you feel? You are scared Imagine again that no one comes to help you. The way you protect yourself is by wedging yourself in small spaces … or climbing high. “
You can give your cat these spaces by filling your house with scratching posts and boxes. If your cat is in these rooms, let them be.
“The cat needs to know that the place where it spends time is sacred and that it is safe from you too,” says Dr. Bales. “If you want to be with them instead of packing them up and bringing them to you, lure them out [with a toy or treat]So it’s your choice. The more they know that they have control and choice, the happier they are. “
Litter boxes are one of the less fun parts of a cat. They can smell, they’re not that pretty, and cleaning them isn’t glamorous. But hiding them in a discreet place and “forgetting” to clean them every day can create fear.
“[Your cat is thinking]”I’ve got a really long way to go, it’s gross here and there is only one,” says Dr. Bales.
If your cat has arthritis and the litter box is in the basement, it may not be able to get there and potty on your floor. They know they shouldn’t and that it will make you angry, but they can’t get to their box. It is also a problem with multiple cats using the same crate as they may not like each other.
“Even if you don’t realize it, there are a lot of subtle things that people don’t pick up on,” says Bales. “You want enough litter boxes. You want to clean them every day. They should be big enough to move around and turn around. “
Beware of roommate drama
Sometimes we think our cats could use a friend and get another, but that can be wrong logic.
“Cats are lonely survivors,” says Dr. Bales.
In the wild, cats of the same litter get along. Female cats often have kittens and groom each other at the same time. These kittens can get along too because they have had similar life experiences and smell like each other. But other than that, it’s risky. They often see the other cat as a threat, eating their food or hiding.
“Bringing a new cat into your home is not a given,” says Dr. Bales. “It goes against the way their instincts process the world.”
When introducing another cat, make sure to keep them separate first and have enough food, hiding places, and litter boxes.
Keep up to date with veterinary appointments
Cats are wired to hide pain.
“Because cats are lonely survivors, if they show pain in nature, someone will kill them,” says Dr. Bales. “Painful mouths and joints really affect the quality of life and make your cat anxious.”
Take your cat with you regularly, even if it looks good.
Featured photo: Olezzo / Getty Images
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