Separation anxiety has existed in dogs for a long time, but recently animal behaviorists have suggested that separation anxiety can also be an issue in cats. Many people assume that cats are solitary animals that do not develop a strong bond with their human companions. Quite the contrary, cats are very affectionate and social animals that enjoy the companionship with their owners. They may be selective in whom they'd like to stick close with, but it is no doubt that cats show a plethora of affection to the person they feel closely bonded to.
Separation anxiety can create many issues both to the owners and the cats themselves. They tend to follow their owners wherever they go and demand for attention in a high maintenance manner. This can obstruct a person from carrying out his/her daily work. Some of the behavioral problems include excessive vocalization after the owner is gone, urinating or defecating outside the litter box, destructing items in the house by chewing or scratching, loss of appetite when the owner is not around, or excessive grooming to the point where a bald spot is formed. [Abnormal Cat Defecating Behavior]
The causes of separation anxiety can be genetic or environmental. Some early weaned or orphan kittens may be the victims of Separation Anxiety. However, more studies still need to be done in order to pinpoint the causes of this type of behavioral problems.
What You Should Do:
The first thing you should do if you suspect your cat has separation anxiety is to consult a veterinarian to rule out any medical related causes. The reason is that many medical illnesses share similar symptoms such as inappropriate urination or defecation which is common in cats with urinary tract infections. If it is not due to any medical illness, you can contact an animal behaviorist for further assistance.
What You can Do to Help Your Cat:
However, in the meantime, you can consider working on a few changes to help your kitty cope with separation anxiety. First of all, prior to leaving your house or upon returning home, ignore your cat for 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare plenty of distraction in the room to stimulate your kitten to play with toys or nibble on treats. Food-dispensing toys would be a great choice in this case (e.g. Kongs and Buster Cubes). They can eat their favorite treats while having fun at the same time.
Right before you leave the house, take out your cat's favorite toys. By the time your return, put away the toys and do not interact with your cat for 15 minutes. It is extremely helpful to make the environment stimulating for your cat. Cats love to look out the window and watch all moving and living things from the outdoors. Having a perch by the window will provide the best entertainment they would ask for. Also, you can try to leave the radio or TV on while you are away. The sound in the house will give your cat a sense of security. There are cat videos and music that work as stress and anxiety relievers. [Music Tames the Beast inside Your Cat]
Some cats may require medications to help them cope with their anxiety problems for a short period of time. The common medications are Prozac, Buspar and Clomicalm. They must be prescribed and monitored by a veterinarian.