Whether they’re triggered or prone to anxiety attacks, cats are known to start shivering and shaking, meowing and growling, as well as scratching and urinating on the furniture when they’re anxious. We’re pretty sure that settles the “Are cats and humans alike?” question to a tee.
Now, anxiety affects humans and cats differently.
When you notice your cat getting anxious, you might notice her getting triggered by things you wouldn’t necessarily deem as triggers – be it buying new furniture, moving the food bowl from one corner of the room to the other, or even playing a song that she doesn’t like.
What do you do when you notice a change in your cat’s behavior, though? We’re bringing you everything you need to know down below!
1. Figure out what’s triggering the stress and anxiety
First things first, figure out what’s triggering your cat’s stress and anxiety.
Maybe she is scared of your neighbor’s dogs and starts shivering and shaking every time she catches a glimpse of them or hears them bark outside the window.
Perhaps she’s stressed out because all of a sudden, you’re working from home rather than going to work every single day (yes, that’s a thing!)
When you determine what’s bothering her, you’re going to have a better chance of removing the triggers or training her to become more confident and courageous.
2. Remove the triggers or get her more comfortable around them
Once you’ve established your cat’s triggers, you need to remove them or work on getting her more comfortable around them – the outcome depends on whether or not your cat’s triggered by something you can remove.
On one hand, you can easily keep your neighbor’s dogs away from your cat, sway your cat’s attention away from the dogs when they’re barking, or entertain her whenever they’re trying to get her to hop on the window.
On the other, you can’t get your guests to leave early because they’re stressing your cat out, or get your children to stop playing with noisy toys because they’re bothering her when she’s trying to sleep. But, you can teach her to become more comfortable around other people, children, and animals.
3. Change her environment
We know you might be thinking “What does her environment have to do with the fact that our neighbor’s dogs keep on barking!?”
Here’s the thing, cats have different triggers which you might or might not be able to remove right away. However, when you make sure to have your cat entertained at all times, chances are she’s going to be too distracted to be triggered by whatever was bugging her.
How do you do that, though? Provide her with a bunch of scratching posts, climbing posts, stimulating toys, and comfortable retreats, and observe how much happier and healthier she gets with each day.
4. Offer positive alternatives to negative behavior
What are we referring to when we’re discussing positive and negative behaviors, though? When your cat gets stressed out and anxious, she resorts to some pattern of behavior that’s specific to her – whether she starts meowing your ears off, urinating on the floor, or running around like a headless chicken.
Sure, these patterns of behavior are a response to a trigger. But, they may be even more damaging to your cat than the anxiety itself.
When you notice your cat resorting to negative patterns of behavior, offer her a positive alternative. Cuddle her, play with her, or offer her a treat. Soon, she’s going to start drawing connections between her triggers and the treats you’ve been offering her. Speaking of which…
5. Offer her treats whenever she’s stressed out
As a matter of fact, treats are one of the biggest and best ways to sway your cat’s attention to something she appreciates rather than hates. And, when your offer your cat a treat when she’s scared, stressed out, or anxious, you’re doing much more than distracting her.
Right off the bat, you’re teaching her that you’re there for her whenever she’s scared. Other than that, you’re teaching her that her triggers don’t have to generate something negative.
On the contrary, when she hears the neighbor’s dogs barking, she’s going to get a treat. When she hears the children playing outside, she’s going to get a treat. When she sees the guests at the door, she’s going to get a treat.
In essence, you’re promoting a positive reaction to a negative trigger. Just make sure you don’t overfeed her, though!
6. Consider pheromone therapy
If you’re at your wit’s end and nothing else seems to be helping, you might want to consider pheromone therapy.
While getting rid of the triggers, entertaining her, distracting her, and offering her treats might be a great way to stop some of the negative behavior patterns, you might need to resort to pheromone therapy, nonetheless.
Pheromone therapy sounds serious, but you don’t need to do anything other than get your hands on synthetic pheromone sprays, wipes, or even diffusers and use them around your cat. Synthetic pheromones mimic your cat’s pheromones and make her happier, calmer, and safer.
7. Consider catnip as an alternative to pheromone therapy
Now, synthetic pheromones might not be right for everyone (even though they’re not dangerous whatsoever). But you can always resort to catnip as an alternative to pheromone therapy because catnip’s been known to produce the same (or similar) effect.
Catnip is completely natural, easy to get your hands on, and easy to serve to your cat. Cats adore rolling on catnip, rubbing themselves against it, sniffing it, and even eating it. Munching on catnip might make your cat mellow and sleepy, but there’s nothing wrong with that, either.
8. See a vet to check whether she’s a candidate for prescription anxiety medication
At the end of the day, there’s nothing wrong with scheduling an appointment with a veterinarian and checking whether your cat needs prescription anxiety medication.
And remember not to worry about your cat getting accustomed to or addicted to anxiety medication. As long as you don’t give your cat human anxiety medication, she should be OK. Good luck!