If you’ve ever been a pet parent for a cute kitty cat and gone on a long trip, chances are you’ve come home to a few gifts from your concerned friend. Maybe you found a new set of scratches on your furniture, some nuggets outside the litterbox, or urine in your shower or bed. Your cat may also yowl when you leave for work, be clingy and never let you leave their sight when you’re home, or pull their fur out when stressed. These can all be signs of separation anxiety, and your furry friend is trying to tell you something. Here are some suggestions from your Tempe pet sitters on dealing with this troublesome problem.
-Be sure and play with kitty for ample lengths of time at least twice a day. Get out that feather wand bird toy or laser pointer before and after work if possible to help her exert that extra energy she may have. If going out of town, hire Critter Caretakers to visit your feline so help assuage that anxiety and loneliness with playtime daily. We LOVE our surrogate kitty family! 🙂
-Mix things up with new toys or different toys available in her environment. Leave toys out for her to play with while you’re gone and periodically rotate them to keep her interest. Try a laser toy that automatically moves around and shuts off after a certain period of time. Keep scratching posts out and around the house to encourage appropriate scratching behaviors. Depending on how she reacts to catnip, try sprinkling some on scratching pads or toys for a frisky time. Another suggestion from your Tempe pet sitters, hide treats in various places for her to find as well and make sure you have enough kitty hiding places, condos, and beds around for variety.
-Leave the radio or tv on, and try playing a DVD specifically geared to fascinate your feline friend. Just noise in the house may help her anxiety.
-Leave a towel or article of clothing out that smells like you in her favorite sleeping place. Also using sense of smell, you can try a plug-in or spray such as Feliway which contains comforting facial pheromones such as the ones kitties leave on things or people around the house when they rub against them. They use this to mark territory as familiar, known, and safe. There are also holistic and naturopathic calming remedies and chews you can try such as Rescue Remedy to dose either directly or in water bowls.
-Stick to a routine, even on the weekends. Kitties thrive on a schedule and will often wake you at the same time for food each morning and start hanging out in the kitchen around dinnertime as well. This is also a comfort to them, and tells them all is still right with the world.
-Keep a clean litterbox to avoid accidents due to dirty conditions during stressful times. Cats are naturally clean animals and will be more likely to use the box if it’s cleaned often, especially when they are feeling stressed. This Tempe pet sitter once went to clean litterboxes in a home where the family had been gone for 10 days without any visits for their cats from a sitter. The boxes were filthy and overflowing with dirty litter! They had ruined mattresses when they returned home. Even though they had good intentions and left plenty of food and water for the cats, it just wasn’t enough.
-Maintain your own calm energy when leaving and returning home. Cats can sense when you’re stressed or anxious and will pick up on this and carry it throughout the day. So be confident and calm as you leave each day with giving short goodbyes. Set your intent to send positive vibes to kitty.
-Contrary to popular belief, cats are not solitary animals and generally do prefer company in the form of a furry companion. Consider adopting another cat and doing a slow introduction so kitty has a playmate while you’re away.
-As a last resort, kitty Prozac may be an option to discuss with your veterinarian. However, there are so many other options to try first that may be helpful that we don’t recommend considering this immediately.
Of course, consult a cat behaviorist and veterinarian for any unruly and relentless separation anxiety behaviors. For example, urinating outside the litterbox could also be signs of a urinary tract infection, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry by checking with a professional. Next up, iguana separation anxiety tips! (ok, we’re just kidding on that one!)