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Cat and Separation Anxiety?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We got my cat Gizmo when he was found lurking outside my friend's house looking for food. He was very hungry and looked quite matted and dirty. He looks like a twin of one of their indoor/outdoor cats, so they almost let him in the house. Once they realized it wasn't their cat they fed him and gave him some water. My friend Kim called me and I decided to take him in. We gave him a bath, dried and brushed him then took him to a vet to make sure that he was in good health. The cat got a clean bill of health so we took him home. He got along okay with my other cat Bageerah after some minor hissing, and establishing of the pecking order in our household. At first he would not use the litter box properly so I bought him one of his own and put him into the bathroom overnight or when we were away from home for short periods of time with food, water and a soft place to lie down. Eventually he used the litter box correctly and is a very very affectionate cat with me.

When I am at home Gizmo follows me around the house like a very loyal dog. He will sit on a kitchen chair or lie on the floor when I am cooking in the kitchen. If I am sitting watching TV he will hop up my lap or sit on my book if I am reading on our bed. If I go to the bathroom or take a shower he will scratch at the door to be let in the bathroom or wait outside. If I am at the computer working or busy doing something he will scratch at our front door or run around the apartment like he's hyper or crazy.

When I go to leave for work or to run errands he will stand by the door like he wants to go out with me. He's scratched at the door a number of times once I have closed it to leave.

Can cats suffer separation anxiety? How do you make a cat feel less stressed about when you leave the home? Is there something that I can do to curb some of the needy and clingy behaviour? I don't want my cat to stop being affectionate but this has gotten excessive.

Thanks for any advice that you can suggest.
post #2 of 7
Do you have a cat tree? I just got this one http://armarkat.com/b7801.htm for my 3, and all have taken up residence (not to mention using the uprights to scratch). There are loads of choices at that site BTW - and no, I have no personal connection to it). You could consider getting another (younger male) for company, but you'd need to be around a lot to help them get aquainted if it were to work out at all... sometimes they see the newcomer as their 'replacement', and you don't want that to happen.
post #3 of 7
Here's some things I've tried with my "sensitive" cats.

You can wear an old shirt or a scarf for a while, then (without washing it, of course, rub it over your hair before you wash your hair) make a little ritual of putting the shirt on his bed or somewhere he likes to hang before you leave. Then, when you come home, pick it up and put it away until next time. Even if you are only going to be gone for a few minutes, do this as part of training, it will help him make the association that you will come back.

Take his mind off his anxiety by adding another little ritual that will occupy him while you are gone. Is he treat oriented? Get a puzzle box or puzzle cube you can put treats into before you leave, and he'll start seeing your departures as something with a little upside along with the downside.

Catnip has a calming effect on some cats. If he's one of those, that can be his little treat. Do get some Rescue Remedy at the health food store and start putting it in his drinking water. It's calming.

Is he a window watcher? Maybe get him one of those cat DVD's or videos and turn it on just before you leave. They repeat and let him watch birds and bugs and such. If he likes being talked to, you can leave the radio on and it often helps them feel not so alone. I prefer the news channels, the announcers have these solemn voices and they can be soothing.

And yes, I'd get another cat! He'll have a friend, you'll get another cat a home, and you'll have two cats, which is about four times the fun.
post #4 of 7
My first cat, Puma, used to cry and cry and cry when I had to leave for work. It was just myself and her all day on the weekends and at night after work...I got separation anxiety just listening to her cry as I walked away!!! Then my boyfriend moved in and we got two new kitties for her to make friends with. She definitely doesn't cry anymore because she's too busy playing with the kittens.

I know that dogs can get separation anxiety and dog owners are told to "ignore their dog or don't give it much attention before leaving the house". I wouldn't be able to ignore my kittens before leaving for the day--but my sister gives her dog a treat before leaving and maybe giving your cat a treat or throwing a toy to distract her while you sneak out might be a good idea. best of luck to you!
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
We have got two cats already so the problem doesn't appear to be a lack of company and the two cats do play with one another. It seems though that Gizmo who is very attached to me reacts that way when I have to go out or I am busy. I do consider myself very lucky to live with such an affectionate cat.

Rescue Remedy, what exactly is that? How does it calm the cat down? I have run across that name before while I was surfing online for information on how to possibly calm Gizmo down.

He is a window watcher and responds if you talk to him, so the DVDS with the birds or a radio left on sound like good ideas. Does wearing the shirt transfer my scent onto it so that he feels like I am around still?

Also when I return from work or going out I try to ignore him for a little bit before I pick him up or play with him. He usually sits down on my lap right away when I am on the couch if I have been away for the day so it can be hard sometimes. Concerning the scratching at the door, I tried ignoring him and he eventually stopped doing it when he realized that he wasn't going to get my attention. Interesting how cats can behave like children when it comes to trying to get your attention, eh?

Thanks again for the suggestions and I'll let you know how they go.
post #6 of 7
Google Bach's Flower Remedies and see what it's/they're about.
post #7 of 7
My wife and I got a new kitten a little over a month ago, and we were worried that he would be lonely by himself during the day.

About 2 weeks after we got him, my wife got sick and stayed home from work one day. I called her in the afternoon to check in, and she said "I'm not worried about our cat during the day anymore -- all he does is sleep!"

We play with our guy in the morning, some good chasing and other stuff, and in the evening he keeps himself busy. But I know he sleeps a lot because on the weekends, his normal schedule is all out of whack. He sleeps during the evening hours because we've kept him up all day doing things, even if it's just stuff around the house, and he's exhausted by the time 9pm rolls around.

You probably would get a lot of mileage out of a cat tree, especially one with dangly bits that the cat can play with when you're not at home. Even if they're not lonely when you're gone, it's good exercise. I'm told that most cats don't really get lonely when you're out during the day because a) they're asleep and b) they figure you're out hunting for food.
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