During this unpredictable time many of us will find ourselves being at home more often, which in turn will have an impact on our animals. In some cases, in addition to protective isolation measures your cat may also have its movements restricted to reduce risk. With cats being such sensitive beings, this is sure to have an effect on them causing anxiety and even separation anxiety when the time to return to normality comes. This affect can depend upon their personality, some more aloof cats that thrive on their ‘alone time’ may be stressed by the loss of independence. Other more ‘needy’ cats may be overjoyed by this increase in company. Either way, here are some tips to reduce the stress caused by the change in routine or the inevitable return to the new normal.
Being at home
- Try to reduce changes as much as possible, cats are very unsettled by change and you being at home will be enough change to cope with.
- Try to limit interaction to keep as much structure as possible. For example, where you can, keep everything as normal as possible by trying to avoid too much socialisation during the hours you would normally be out of the house.
- Keep to your cats feeding regime and resist giving extra treats or meals, even if you are pestered for them.
- Continue to keep the routine of play time with your cat, but instead allow time for self-play. This will allow your cat to have independent time where they are not focused on your presence in the house.
- Where possible, give your cat a period of separation and time to be alone to prevent the need to deal with an all or nothing approach.
Help from nutraceuticals, natural remedies or pheromones may be beneficial. Any additional support is best used as a pre-emptive measure but often any support, no matter which stage, can make a real difference to quality of life.
- Feliway – a synthetic pheromone-based product is cat specific and the most widely recommended product for cat stress and anxiety. There are two main types that may help in this situation and in some situations, both should be used simultaneously.
- Feliway classic is based on the ‘happy’ pheromone helping to provide reassurance to you cat.
- Feliway friends is based on the ‘harmony’ pheromone and is generally appeasing, this is great in a multi-cat household.
- Pet remedy – a natural valerian-based remedy which works on all species, even humans, so may be beneficial where there are other pets.
- Oral supplementation
- Calmex – is a fast acting natural calmer containing amino aids which have calming properties and releases serotonin levels, to make your cat feel more happy over all.
For those cats pre-disposed to stress related cystitis, Cystaid Plus may be considered as a preventative measure along with stress relieving remedies.
What to do when normality resumes?
- Removal of departure cues will help reduce the association with certain items that you will be leaving your cat. Keep anything that might indicate leaving low key ie get ready to leave early so you can sit down and read a book for a few minutes or eat breakfast before going.
- Before leaving do not make a big fuss or say ‘goodbyes’.
- Leaving whilst distracted by food or toys means you can slip out undetected.
- Leaving you cat with something to do while you are gone will help pass the time and distract from your absence. Food puzzles and small treats hidden around the house would create a hunt like game.
- A variety of toys provided and rotated will keep the interest, try saving your cat’s favourite toys for when you are not there for longer periods.
Boxes, perches and hides can be used to allow a variety of aspects for your cat to enjoy.
If you are concerned about your cat, or would like some further advice from our veterinary nurses, please contact the practice on 01626 835002.