They’re Not Loners: An Introduction To Separation Anxiety And Its Management In Cats

Author: Dr. John Abbass
DVM  M.Phil (Veterinary Microbiology), University of Edinburgh

Cats are cute and lovable creatures. Just like humans, they also undergo some psychological complications such as depression and anxiety. There are many questions which are usually asked by the cat owners  about the separation anxiety in cats and its reasons.  Cat is just your family member, so this is your top responsibility to take care of her psychological and emotional needs.

Here we will discuss the separation anxiety, its signs and symptoms and tips to manage it in cats.


This type of anxiety occurs in cats when she is away from her owner, alone at home or separated from her companions (like other pets with whom, your cat has a strong bond/affiliation).

Remember, cats easily get attached with their owner. When a cat is left alone for a longer period or you can’t manage time to give her lots of attention which she actually needs, then she becomes anxious.


There are a number of signs which an anxious cat shows. But for the better understanding, we have summarized a few key signs below:

  • Cat shows destructive behavior
  • Frequent urination usually at unsuitable/random places
  • Anorexia (off-feed)- Not usually eat or drinking when owner is not around
  • Excessive vocalization (meowing, moaning and crying)
  • Excessive vomiting (usually food and hair are present in the vomit)
  • Frequent self-grooming and exuberant greetings when owner returns home 

Note: This has also been observed that cats suffering from separation anxiety will try to come between the owner and door when the owner leaves home.


Being a responsible owner, if you find any of the above given signs in your cat, contact your veterinarian on emergency grounds. Your vet will help you better in dealing with the situation according to the current status of your cat.


The following things should be done to help your cat out of the anxiety.

1) Give your cats some mind-soothing enrichment activities – interactive and beautiful toys etc
2) Spend at least 10minutes while playing with your cat ( remember, your cat needs you during this mental suffering). It is also a better idea to go for walk with your cat (once or twice in a week, if you really have busy schedule)
3) It is also advised to engage your cat in some activities like hide food at random places in home and let your cat find that.  This way, she will stay occupied.
4) Scratching posts will also help your cat suffering with separation anxiety.
5)  It is better to call home and leave a message for your cat. It will make her feel secure.
6) It is a good idea to leave Television or radio turned on before leaving the home.
7) Environmental pheromone therapy can also help in this regard. But ask your vet before taking any step.
8) There are various anti-anxiety medications which your vet can prescribe. Note: Use every medication under the supervision of a registered pet practitioner in exact dose for a specific time period.
9) Feed your cat a high quality, nutritious diet in good quality drinking and feeding utensils.Preferably use an automatic feeder and give it commands according to your convenience.
10) Last but not least, keep your cat’s living environment highly comfortable and hygienic.


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Horwitz DF, Mills DS (2009) Bristish Small Animal Veterinary Association Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine (2nd ed.). BSAVA, Gloucester.

McNaughton N, Zangrossi H (2008) Theoretical approaches to the modelling of anxiety in animals. In: Blanchard RJ, Blanchard D, Griebel G and Nutt D (eds.) Handbook of Anxiety and Fear, Academic Press, Amsterdam, 11-27

van der Staay, FJ (2006) Animal models of behavioral dysfunctions: basic concepts and classifications, and an evaluation strategy. Brain Res Rev, 52, 131-159.

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