cat anxiety treatment

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A Complete Guide on Cat Anxiety Treatment Options

Katelyn Son

By

Medically reviewed by

JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM

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Can Anxiety in Cats be Cured?

Can Anxiety in Cats be Cured

Yes, cat anxiety can be cured. There are different cat anxiety treatment options based on the anxiety type and the cat’s behavior. The signs of anxiety also vary depending on the cat’s anxiety trigger.

Finding the right cat anxiety treatment requires consulting with a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist. These professionals will work together with pet parents to craft an individually-tailored treatment plan for their anxious cats.

What can You Give a Cat for Anxiety?

There are a number of treatments you can give your cat for anxiety.  The most effective cat anxiety treatment options are medications, supplements, behavior modification, and socialization.

In many cases, the best treatment plan will consist of two or even three approaches. It is common practice to combine behavioral modification with supplements or anti-anxiety medications.

Your vet will be able to decide which cat anxiety treatment is best for your cat’s individual situation.

What Supplements Help Cats With Anxiety?

What Supplements Help Cats With Anxiety

Many supplements can be used as part of the cat anxiety treatment plan. Some can be used as treats, and others can be added to the regular cat food. Be aware that supplements can interact with other medications that a cat is taking. Always talk to your veterinarian before giving your cat anti-anxiety supplements.

Here are some of the best anti-anxiety supplements for cats.

Honest Paws Calm CBD Soft Chews for Cats. The Honest Paws Calm CBD Soft Chews are a wonderful blend of CBD and other natural ingredients. The CBD in the chews is organic full-spectrum hemp, and each bite contains 2 mg of the healthy cannabinoid.

CBD has anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties in both people and animals. CBD, through acting on the endocannabinoid system, is able to stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, producing a calming effect.

To administer this supplement, simply give your cat the chew. CBD is a natural remedy and rarely causes negative side effects. If adverse reactions occur, they are mild and may include stomach upset and drowsiness.

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This custom blend of relaxing ingredients is paired with a full-spectrum hemp oil and will help your cat with:

  • Maintaining calmness
  • Behavioral problem management
  • Promoting a healthy brain function

 

Zesty Paws Calming Bites for Cats. The Zesty Paws Calming Bites are salmon-flavored bits that help to ease anxiety in cats over 12 weeks of age.

They contain suntheanine (a form of the amino acid L-theanine ), L-tryptophan (another amino acid), melatonin, and chamomile. These natural ingredients have a calming effect on the body.

The recommended dose is two chews a day, but it is advisable to start your cat on one chew a day and work your way up. For best results, give one chew in the morning and the other at night.

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Feliway Classic Calming Diffuser for Cats. The Feliway Classic starter kit comes with a plug-in diffuser and a 30-day supply of pheromones. The odorless pheromone solution works for anxiety triggers like separation, car rides, loud noises, a new pet or family member, and new environments.

Pheromones are naturally occurring, feel-good chemicals produced by cats that affect behavior in other cats. For example, mama cats release pheromones to soothe their kittens. The pheromones in this diffuser are supposed to mimic that same effect and soothe an anxious cat.

To use, simply plug the diffuser into a power source and turn on the power. After 30 days, you will need a refill of the pheromones. After six months, you should replace the whole diffuser. Do not place the pheromone diffuser in closed spaces (behind curtains, drawers, or doors).

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  • Made with wild caught Alaskan Salmon Oil and Salmon Meal to provide Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that help dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes feel their best.
  • Helps to nourish skin and coats, while also promoting brain and heart health to ensure that your dog gets the care he needs.
  • May support joint pain relief and flexibility.

What Medications Help Cats With Anxiety?

What Medications Help Cats With Anxiety

There are various cat anxiety medication options. Generally speaking, cat anxiety meds are antidepressants that work by changing the cat’s brain chemistry. They do this by modifying neurotransmitter levels (dopamine, serotonin, GABA) in the brain.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the nervous system that play a big role in determining mood and general mental wellness.

Some of the commonly used anti-anxiety medications are Fluoxetine (Prozac®), Alprazolam (Xanax®), Clomipramine (Anafranil®), Amitriptyline (Elavil®), and Lorazepam (Ativan®).

You will know the medication is having an effect if the cat anxiety symptoms like depression, excessive grooming, excessive vocalization (meowing), and urinating/defecating outside the litter box start to subside. You will have to monitor your cat’s body language closely to notice these changes.

It is important to note that these medications are not FDA approved to treat cat anxiety. Off-label medications are those that are used to treat medical conditions other than what the FDA approved the medication for. 

Cat anxiety treatment medications are available only by prescription, so your veterinarian will prescribe the med that they think will be most effective for managing your cat’s anxiety.

What Behavior Modifications Help Cats With Anxiety?

What Behavior Modifications Help Cats With Anxiety

Cat behavior modification includes techniques such as desensitization, counterconditioning, positive reinforcement, and socialization. Behavior modification is an excellent long-term cat anxiety treatment plan. 

Desensitization. This is a training technique that involves controlled exposure of a cat to the anxiety trigger. The idea behind desensitization is to help your cat realize that the source of her anxiety poses no real harm to her.

For example, if your cat is sensitive to loud noises like fireworks, you can play a few clips of fireworks on your TV to familiarize her with the sounds. You can start at lower volumes and go up slowly until she isn’t fazed by the sounds anymore.

It is important to stay below your cat’s stress threshold when using desensitization. If your cat is startled during training, dial it back a notch or end the training until she feels better.

Counterconditioning. The goal of this behavioral change technique is to alter your cat’s perception of the source of her anxiety. This is achieved by teaching the cat to associate a positive experience with the anxiety source.

For example, if your cat has separation anxiety, you can offer her a treat right before you leave. This way, when your cat becomes aware of imminent departure, she gets excited about the upcoming treat rather than feeling anxious about you leaving.

Positive reinforcement. This is useful for cats that display annoying anxious behaviors, such as excessive meowing. The technique involves encouraging good behavior by rewarding the cat with a desirable experience.

For example, if your cat is fond of over-grooming when triggered, you can tell her to stop. If she does, immediately offer her a treat or some praise. Over time, positive reinforcement will make the positive behavior so desirable that the negative behavior will stop.

Socialization. This works best for kittens, but the same principles can be applied to a grown cat. Socialization is the process of familiarizing a kitten with the environment, such as family members, guests, and other cats.

A socialized cat is less likely to have behavior problems when exposed to stressors like a new home. All pet owners should make an effort to socialize their cats as early as possible. Ideally, socialization should be done between 3 and 9 weeks of age. Socialization is more difficult in an older cat, but it can be done.

If your cat’s behavioral issues persist, you may have to see a specialist like a veterinary behaviorist or professional animal trainer.