Is your cat stressed out? Cats can be stressed by many things. One of them is your own anxiety and emotional state. When you’re stressed, your cat is stressed. When you’re depressed, your cat can become depressed. What can you do to help your stressed out cat?
Stressed out cats
Cats are empathetic animals. That means if you the owner is upset, your cat will pick up on how you’re feeling. If your stress lasts awhile, then you’ll end up with a stressed out cat.
Most cats show anxiety by excessive grooming, peeing or spraying in the house, hiding under furniture, aggression, or rapid shedding. A cat might have a decrease in appetite, have an urinary infection, or acne.
Fortunately, there is help for stressed out cats.
Natural Stress Remedies
There are natural stress remedies to deal with a cat’s anxiety. These include behavioural modification solutions. This solutions modifies the cat’s behaviour by slowly changing the environment to a more soothing one. Another natural remedy is using a pheromone spray or diffuser in the house.
Then there’s a special diet called C/D Urinary Care that helps stop bladder-related problems caused by anxiety. Anti-anxiety tablets are also an option, but these are vet prescribed and are only offered when the more traditional methods of treating feline distress don’t work.
Feline Anti-anxiety Tablets
There are four types of behavioural medicines to treat stressed out cats. These medicines are benzodiazepines (BZs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). You may recognize these are the same group of medicines used to treat human anxiety and depression.
While most behavioural meds need to be taken daily for several weeks before there’s any noticeable change in your cat, BZs act quickly. BZs reduces feline anxiety almost as soon as its taken. So its useful for treating fear and aggression.
Some common BZs are diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin). BZs work by increasing the activity of a chemical in the brain that interferes with the activation of fear networks.
SSRIs affect the brain chemical called serotonin. Common SSRIs are fluoxetine (Reconcile or Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft).
SSRIs are used to treat a number of anxiety-related behaviour problems. These include the fearful avoidance of the litter box, the fear of other cats in the house, or aggression toward other cats. SSRIs help reduce compulsive behaviours, such as excessive grooming. SSRIs need to be taken everyday to be effective.
Costs and Side Effects
A cat can be on anti-anxiety tablets for the rest of its life. Feline anti-anxiety meds can cost anywhere from $60- $80 a month. Of course, there are some anti-anxiety meds made for humans that cost less and can be given to cats. But these human anti-anxiety meds aren’t always safe for cats. For example, paracetamol could kill a cat.
Side effects of feline anti-anxiety pills include cats becoming “spaced out”, a relatively common but minor effect. Or the pills could affect liver function, a rarer but more serious outcome. BZs can increase appetite and sleepiness, and interfere with learning and memory.
When you’re depressed or anxious, your cat may be feeling the same way. Take care of yourself but remember to include your best furry friend in some therapy.
Cats, like any other animal, don’t like to take pills. Remember this when trying to give one to your cat. Being forceful can make your cat upset and learn a new avoidance behaviour. Always consult with your vet before giving any medications.