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May 18, 2021

How Do I Know if My Cat has Anxiety? 8 Signs to Look for

How do you know if your cat has anxiety? Many owners interpret signs of cat anxiety as bad behavior or cats being “their douchy selves”, but in reality, many behavioral problems spring from anxiety. It can be tricky to recognize the signs since different cats act differently when they’re anxious. For example, both of our cats HATE traveling by car. Hate it. But they express their anxiety in completely different ways. The first thing Master General does when she’s anxious is pee. If you put her in a car, she won’t make a sound, but she’ll cower and pee. Sir Sleep-a-Lot, on the other hand, does the exact opposite: he meows, or more like yells, as loudly and as much as he can. He doesn’t cower or pee or anything like that, he just YELLS. Once we had to take them on a two-hour trip to a cat hospital and he yelled for two hours straight while his sister peed in the car three times 🙁

Sir Sleep-a-Lot and Master General just chillin’

I’ve since learned that there are ways to help ease your cat’s anxiety, but before you can do that, you need to learn to recognize it. So here’s a list of signs to look out for that may signal your cat is suffering from anxiety — either in the short term or the long term. Just remember that every cat is an individual, so it’s important to get to know your cat’s specific signals.

1. No Peeing in the Litter Box

No, your cat isn’t doing it just to mess with you. While peeing around can stem from a dislike of something in the litter box (wrong kind of litter, the box not being cleaned often enough, the box having or not having walls etc), it can also be a clear sign of anxiety. If changing the setup of your litter box or cleaning it more often doesn’t help, you need to think about what might be making your cat anxious. 

2. Hiding

Some cats like to hang around more than others, but you should worry if your cat is hiding all the time or has suddenly started to hide much more than usual. Pay attention to whether something triggers the hiding. 

3. Aggression

Is your cat mad at you for nothing? Particularly if this is out of character for them (yes there are cats for whom this is out of character), the root cause of aggressive behavior may be anxiety. Again, pay attention to whether something specific triggers aggression in your cat. 

4. Too Chatty

We all love a good chat, but if your cat has suddenly decided they have a lot to tell you all the damn time and particularly if they’re meowing at you in a way that — I have no better way to describe this — just sounds so anxious, it may be because they are indeed feeling very anxious about something. 

5. Following You Everywhere

Some cats love company. I should know since Master General’s other nickname is Butt Fly cause, well, she hovers around you like…a butt fly. Even so, she does do her own thing as well and hours go by without her circling us like a fluffy shark. But if your cat doesn’t let you out of their sight at all and follows you everywhere, it can be a sign that they’re attaching themselves to you because they’re anxious. 

6. Neverending Grooming

Healthy cats groom themselves and can often spend a ridiculous amount of time just cleaning the toe hairs of an individual paw, but if your cat is grooming themselves non-stop, it can be a sign of anxiety. Pay particular attention if your cat grooms themselves so much they start losing fur. 

7. Changes in Eating

Is your cat eating noticeably more or less than usual? That should always be taken seriously, as it can be a sign of either medical problems or anxiety. Always keep an eye on your cat’s food consumption. 

8. Lethargy

The laser pen they used to love can’t even get them to sit up anymore? If your cat’s become lethargic (as in, more lethargic than usual — it’s normal for Sir Sleep-a-Lot to get exhausted if he naps less than twenty hours a day) it can be a sign of medical problems or anxiety, so don’t ignore this sign. 

In general, pay attention to your cat’s behavior and habits. The best way to notice something is wrong — whether it’s a medical problem, anxiety, or something else — is to know your cat’s behavior so that you notice when it changes. If you think your kitty may need some extra help chillin’, checkout Okoa’s “Chill, Kitty Kitty” CBD+ chews. They’re all-natural, veterinarian-formulated, and THC-free.