by Emily Wallner
Anxiety in cats is a common and manageable issue. Sometimes it stems from an environmental factor, and other times, it is just how the cat is wired. When you bring home a new feline family member, typically some anxiety can be expected from either the new cat and/or any other cats in your home. Most of the time, this anxiety will level out as everyone gets adjusted to the changed environment and new structure of the family. Change is often difficult for cats, and it can take some time for everyone to feel comfortable with changes to their routine.
Anxiety is displayed in many different ways. Some cats hide or keep their distance. Some cats become unusually clingy. Some cats will appear to be restless and some might act out. Others will urinate or defecate outside of the litter box. There are also physical manifestations of anxiety such as an upset stomach, nervous diarrhea, developing hot spots, excessive grooming or constipation.
There are a number of ways in which you can help your anxious cats. Setting and maintaining a solid daily routine for them will help them feel more secure. Using pheromone mimicking sprays or diffusers like Feliway can calm them down and help them adjust to changes in their environment. When our animal family members are stressed, often we become stressed, and vice versa. Cats are very perceptive animals, and taking steps to reduce your own level of anxiety will result in a calmer environment and, as a result, will help reduce the anxiety in your cat. If the anxiety is chronic, severe or particularly worrisome, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss options for intervention.
"Your veterinarian may prescribe anxiety reducing medication (Prozac, Buspirone or others) to be used in conjunction with behavior modification techniques," said Jerri Smith, DVM, medical consultant to Feline Rescue. "These medications may have undesired side effects, so they should not be used as a sole treatment and they should never be discontinued abruptly." As always, never medicate your cat without the instruction of and supervision by your veterinarian.