The Pet Parents® Guide to Separation Anxiety in Cats

Updated: May 12, 2023

Separation anxiety in cats is possible and usually occurs when a cat is separated from a person or belonging with which they have created a strong bond with.

Although some cats are known to be independent, reserved, and standoffish, many pet parents say that this is not always the case. A 2019 study by Current Biology Magazine confirmed that cats who are living with pet parents have similar personal attachments as dogs do. 64% of cats have shown signs of separation anxiety and were less stressed when their pet parents were around.

This article will share the signs of separation anxiety in cats, the possible causes of why they feel this way, and what you can do about it.

cat with anxiety

"64% of cats have shown signs of separation anxiety and were less stressed when their pet parents were around."

Causes of Separation Anxiety in Cats

A pet parent’s absence isn’t the only cause of why cats develop separation anxiety. Here are some other common reasons:

  • Being a female cat: Separation anxiety has been diagnosed more in female cats than males.
  • Living indoors: Cats who strictly spend their days indoors develop separation anxiety more often than cats who roam outside.
  • Being the only pet at home
  • Weaned at the wrong time
  • Bottle-raised as a kitten
  • Orphaned or abandoned
  • Changes in their daily routine: As the Conscious Cat notes, “Cats are creatures of habits who thrive on routine. It helps them feel safe and confident.” Some examples of changes include changes in your work shifts or moving into a new house.

Signs of Separation Anxiety in Cats

While every cat has a different personality, here are some of the most common signs of separation anxiety in your furbaby:

  • Clinginess to their pet parent; follows you around the house
  • Shows signs of distress when they see you preparing to leave
  • Strong urge to escape or run away in the attempt to go after you
  • Excessive vocalizations (crying, moaning, or meowing)
  • Excessive self-grooming
  • Vomiting food or hairballs
  • Finishes their meals fast or eats nothing at all
  • Peeing or pooping outside their litter box
  • Exhibiting destructive behaviors like scratching on inappropriate objects
  • Getting overly excited when they see you return home
  • Stress

What Can You Do For a Cat with Separation Anxiety?

These things can be frustrating, but if you manage your cat’s separation anxiety

Consult Your Vet

Consult your veterinarian if you see any noticeable changes in your furbaby that may be separation anxiety. Your vet will rule out any health issues first. For example, a cat peeing outside their litter box may be suffering from a urinary tract infection instead of separation anxiety.

Socialize Your Cat

To help prevent or curb separation anxiety in your cat, make sure you socialize them with other cats, animals, people, and different social settings. Veterinary Partner® notes that socialization helps your furbaby get used to different people and experiences they will encounter in their lives, and learn to accept or deal with things around them.

Add Enrichment Activities

You can enhance your cat’s environment to help keep them occupied, focused, and less stressed when you’re gone. Here are some ideas.

  • Put up perches, window sills, and climbing fences to provide your cat with a view of the world outside.
  • Place scratching posts in areas of your house where there is high foot traffic, as cats love that their scratches are displayed for you and other pets at home to see and smell. Cats also love to scratch right after they wake up, so make sure to place a scratching post beside their resting or sleeping areas.
  • Provide your cat with litter boxes placed in strategic, easy-to-reach places that offer them privacy. You can use Pawtect® Pads under litter boxes to prevent any messes.
  • Offer them different toys they can play with to keep them entertained while you are away.
  • Place Pawtect® Blankets in your cat’s safe spots and resting areas. These waterproof pet blankets serve as comfort blankets for your anxious cat. Pawtect® Blankets have a LockJaw™ binding feature that keeps your anxious cat from gnawing or scratching at the blanket.
  • Use pheromone sprays or therapies to help reduce your cat's anxiety while you are away. You may also ask your vet for trusted calming supplements to help your furbaby relax.

Keep Hello’s and Goodbye’s Lowkey

Do not make a big deal out of leaving or coming home to prevent triggering your cat’s anxiety. You may want to remove any leaving cues, like putting your car keys in your pocket.

Practice Makes Perfect

To help curb or prevent separation anxiety in cats, practice what it is like when you come and go. Walk away from where your furbaby is and then return instantly. Greet them casually and play with them for a while. Do this every day and gradually increase the time you spend away.

Try Cat Diapers

A cat who suffers from separation anxiety is prone to accidents even if they are potty-trained or litterbox-trained. To prevent messes, use Pet Parents® Washable Cat Diapers. These diapers are made with our soft non-abrasive WickQuick® proprietary fabric, which helps prevent diaper rash and urine burns.

Give Positive Reinforcement

Reward your cat for behaviors you want them to keep, like remaining calm after you have been away or not exhibiting any excessive, destructive behaviors after you leave the house. Never punish them. Treating your cat’s separation anxiety is a process and does not happen overnight. Punishing them will only worsen their anxiety.

Separation anxiety in cats can be managed, treated, and prevented if you commit to it. Cats deserve to live happy and healthy lives -- even if you are away.

"Place Pawtect® Blankets in your cat’s safe spots and resting areas. These waterproof pet blankets serve as comfort blankets for your anxious cat."

cat with anxiety