Although every animal’s journey will be different, the end goal is the same – to change the relationship with the owner so that the animal is not so dependent on them. As you may currently be at home together all the time, your cat may have become increasingly attached and it may be a good idea to help your cat understand that she can’t constantly be interacting with you. There are several things a pet behaviourist might suggest:
Look at your cat’s environment to make sure she has lots to do to enrich her life. A bored cat is more likely to look to her owner for stimulation. Cats like to be in control and one with a cat flap, with the freedom to come and go at will, may be less likely to suffer from separation anxiety.
Get other family members involved in caring for your pet. If it’s always you that feeds and plays with them, they’ll be more closely bonded to you. Teach your cat that she can have these things from a variety of people to ease her reliance on you.
Pheromone sprays and plug-ins, which are a man-made version of the substance a cat deposits when she rubs her cheek on your leg or furniture, can help in the home to relax an anxious pet. You can also leave a item of your clothing with them for comfort.
In a severely anxious cat, medication from the vet might be necessary to relax them enough so that they can learn it’s OK to not always be with their owner. I’m more a fan of love and attention over medication but that’s me.
Rather than give your cat attention every time she approaches you for a stroke, think about playing with her or getting a puzzle toy to put her food in. These are balls with holes in that you fill with kibble, which drops out as the cat plays with it.
Try not to make the mistake of thinking that getting another cat will solve the problem. If a cat has separation anxiety, this means they’re over-attached to their owner, not lonely. The anxiety of not having their owner with them will still be present, but could actually be increased by the addition of another cat. Territory is very important to cats and not all of them are happy living in multi-cat households.
The most important thing to remember with any anxious pet is that you need to be patient and understand that your cat is in distress. We must also remember than the coronavirus has not only changed the way we are living, but also the lives and routines of our pets too and that cats are incredibly intuitive and pick up on our own stress and anxiety. There is no quick fix to separation anxiety – and remember, it is rare in cats. Whatever you do, never punish your pet for stress-related behaviour, such as scratching or spraying – it will only make the problem much worse! Always seek professional advice and try not to get angry with your cat.
Make sure they have elevated beds so they can escape floor level dangers and other stresses and scratchers available to them at all times.
Hope this helps 😻