Signs Your Cat Has Anxiety and How to Treat It


Cats experience anxiety, too, and if you know your cat’s personality well enough, you will be able to easily spot signs of stress. If you notice your cat is acting strange or behaving unlike his normal self, there’s indeed a chance that a certain event is making him anxious. Anxiety is pretty common in cats and it could lead to serious problems if left untreated.

Causes of Anxiety in Cats

To successfully address cat stress and anxiety symptoms, it would help to try to determine what’s causing anxiety in your cat. Has there been a change at home lately? Major household events such as moving to another house, taking in a new pet, or the loss of a family member are a few examples of situations where cats have been known to show signs of anxiety. Different types of anxiety in cats may be caused by different triggers such as:

  • Boredom – Cats that aren’t given enough attention or allowed to engage in stimulating activities may either withdraw or try to let out some pent-up energy by engaging aggressive behavior.

  • Fear – Your cat may be exhibiting anxiety symptoms due to a traumatic experience or an incident that incited fear.

  • Unfamiliar environment – Moving is stressful for most cats, because they are deeply territorial creatures. You need to be extra considerate of your pet when you’re relocating with your cat.

  • Separation anxiety – The introduction of a new pet or a new baby, the loss of a family member, or any other similar situation can trigger separation anxiety in cats. Any changes in routine due to a new schedule, for instance, could also trigger cat separation anxiety symptoms.

  • Medical illness – Your cat may not be acting like his usual self because he is unwell or is in pain.
  • Ageing – Older cats are prone to anxiety. Your elderly cat may be showing symptoms of separation anxiety due to dementia or nervous disorders.

Signs of Anxiety in Cats


If you suspect that your cat is suffering from any type of anxiety, these are some of the symptoms of cat anxiety to watch out for:

  • Aggressive behavior – Some cats tend to get aggressive when anxious, scared, or overwhelmed. Aggressive behavior can cause damage to property or harm to people.

  • Vocalization – Cats suffering from anxiety tend to meow more than usual. The vocalization would typically sound distressed, as if asking for attention or help.

  • Over-grooming – Notice your cat grooming himself a little more than usual? Anxious cats tend to over-groom, which could actually lead to hair loss, sores, and lesions.

  • Litter box “accidents” – If your cat suddenly stops using his litter box and has “accidents” in forbidden parts of the house, this could be a sign that he has anxiety. However, this may also indicate other health problems such as urinary tract infection.

  • Trembling – Anxiety in cats may also manifest in other physical symptoms like trembling.

  • Tailing – Your cat won’t let you out of sight? Cats love being near their owners for several reasons. It’s possible your cat is feeling anxious and is trying to be near you for comfort.

  • Withdrawal – Don’t see your cat anywhere? Your cat won’t come to you even if it’s time for his meal? Your cat could be hiding because of anxiety.

  • Pacing – Cats love to sleep, sometimes for up to 16 hours a day. If they can’t stay still, this could be a sign that your cat is suffering from anxiety.

  • Eating more or eating less – In the same way that people lose their appetite or tend to overindulge when stressed, anxiety may also be affecting your cat’s eating habits.

  • Lethargy – The lack of energy or showing disinterest in play activities your cat normally loves could indicate an underlying health issue, such as anxiety.

  • Other signs – Anxious cats may also show symptoms which include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, poor coat condition, runny nose, teary eyes, and eating non-food items.

Treating Your Cat’s Anxiety

If you noticed cat anxiety symptoms and would like to help your pet, take the following steps.


1. Rule out any possible medical conditions.

Make sure that the anxiety isn’t rooted into a more serious health problem. Take your cat to the vet to see if your cat is suffering psychologically or if there’s an illness that needs to be addressed. Do this as soon as possible if the anxiety symptoms start to look serious.


2. Make your cat feel safe.

Try to create an environment where your cat would feel safe and comfortable. However, you don’t want to make many changes all at once as you already know how change could trigger anxiety in cats. You can start by setting up a cat tree or something similar, which can be a place for your cat to hide and relax.

You may also put up scratching posts around the house, which would also serve the purpose of keeping your cat happily busy. If your cat is afraid of loud noises, try to keep the room where he sleeps soundproof, or have him wear a calming shirt.


3. Introduce stimulating activities.

Try to look for toys that could motivate your cats. Online stores offer food puzzle toys that combine two of your cat’s favorite activities: eating and hunting. At the very least, spend a few minutes a day playing with or training your cat. There’s a possibility that this is all he needs.


4. Try anxiety relief medication.

A lot of vets would prescribe medication like Gabapentin for the cat’s anxiety symptoms. You also have the option to try and offer your cat natural remedies like diffusers that release feline pheromones to help cats feel relaxed. Seek your vet’s advice before you try anything as some products could be toxic to cats.


What Happens if Cat Anxiety Remains Untreated?

If left untreated, anxiety in cats could only get worse over time. Not only can it alter your cat’s behavior, but chronic stress can also affect your pet cat’s well-being. Symptoms such as loss of appetite or diarrhea can make your cat weaker, so you want to address the anxiety problem right away. With your tender loving care and professional help, you can help your cat get over the stress he is experiencing and restore him to full health.


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