Separation Anxiety in Cats - have you witnessed it?

Anne

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According to Wikipedia,
Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment. 
Have you ever seen something similar in a cat? Has your cat shown symptoms of stress over being separated from a member of the family? Care to share the story here with us? Researching for an article on the topic, so some of the stories will probably find their way into it. The article will be part of TCS focusing on stress and anxiety in cats next month.

Also, please take a look at a similar research thread I started in the health forum, asking about/for members' experiences with anxiety medication for cats.
 
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1of10000fists

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I didn't know this was an issue for other people. I thought it was only my cat because of how I talk to him. He is not on medication and I have no plans for it now. But if he gets worse, I will consider it if we cant work something out.

He always has issues when I leave. Its been for maybe 2-3 years now. My husband says he cries non-stop until I get home (thats been for like 7-8 years), and he does it sometimes when my husband is at work. If I forget to tell him where Im going and how long I'll be, he is waiting at the door or comes bolting down the stairs like we were never coming home again. Even when I go into the garage or to get the mail, I have to tell him where Im going and when I'll be back or he will be right by the door waiting for me with his head bobbing around, looking anxious and his eyes are scared and wide. He wont move from the door until I am done coming in and out. Once he's content Im staying, he'll go back to his business.

This happens rarely because I always tell him "I'm going into town, I'll be back in a few hours", "Im just going to get the mail, be right back", "I'm throwing the trash", "I'll be in the garage (doing whatever for however long" etc. I'm very specific and I tell him when I'll be back in the house. I sometimes put a clock nearby too, and tell him when the clock is "here" I'll be home. He looks at it, sniffs it and goes back to bathing. I feel like anyone watching would think Im a moron talking to him like this but it makes him feel better and calm, so I dont care. We talk all the time, he talks to me a lot too. He's really vocal. He gets nervous if I forget to "consult" with him, so I really try to remember. 

Something Ive noticed is that sometimes he wants to be in the garage with me or look out the front door, which is rare. In those cases, I take him in my arms and let him look around at what Im doing or whatever's in there. Or we'll sit on the porch and I'll put him in my coat and zip him in and we'll just sit till he wants to go in. Sometimes, he goes with me to get the mail, but not often (I always carry him, he never is on the ground). The more I do these things with him, the less anxious he is when I leave.

In spring, when its not too hot or cold out, I take him with me to go on errands, he likes to go for the ride and look out the window (though not all the time, many times he doesnt wanna go). I worry about the fumes in an idle car, so unless its a vet appt, I really only like to take him when my husband can go and one of us can stay in the car or I dont have to get out of the car.

But overall, we handle it ok. He wasn't always like this. When I graduated and became a housewife, things changed in terms of me being home with him. It got to the point where I wouldn't leave the house for days (my husband had the only car at work) and so it was just us. I would take my bike to the store, but it was so far that I didnt do that often. Thats when I noticed his anxiety and I started telling him where/when I go. When we got another car, I started taking him with me on quick trips or just to drive around. Anyway, as long as we communicate (or me with him) and spend quality time, he seems ok for now.
 

feralvr

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I have the classic case of cat self-induced stress/anxiety living among my clowder and his name is Pipsqueak. He was abandoned in a cardboard box in ten degree temps. in the middle of the night on the shelter steps at 4 months of age. Pipsqueak from day one of his rescue has done everything in life to the fullest with such gusto. And I mean everything he does in life much to his demise at times from using the litter box and making a huge mess of the litter each and every time, to bossing around ALL of the cats and the two dogs to the point of getting himself extremely worked up, to eating each meal like it is his last, to protecting the home from anything he thinks is an intrusion, to having to be in the middle of all the household going's on and seemingly making the decision :lol3: and the list goes on. Each time I grab my purse he starts acting up in anyway he can from getting under my feet, talking up a storm, demanding I toss his puff ball toy, running to the door that leads to the garage where I usually leave from and will even go in the closet when I try to get my shoes out and on. I can always hear him howling after I leave from the garage. He does settle down after I go because I have waited in the garage to see what he does. He does not destroy or do anything out of the ordinary while I am gone as he seems to accept it. The minutes leading up to my exit are always very upsetting to him and he lets me know anyway he can.

He also displays very controlling behavior with the other cats and two older dogs in the home. I have no clue as to why he has taken on this role but it did progress after his best friend :rbheart: Potsie struggled to hold on for life one Sunday afternoon while we were gone. Upon our return home, Potsie was in extreme distress laying on the floor panting. Pipsqueak hovering around him. We scooped up Potsie and rushed him to the Evet. It was too late, nothing could be done to save Potsie. Pipsqueak was never quite the same after that summer three years ago. That is when I noticed Pip becoming more and more anxious about me leaving the house and his controlling behavior. He even began growling and hissing at anyone who approached the front walk. Oddly, he also growls at the garbage truck when it would come around the culdesac. I have to be very careful about my emotions at home too. Once I dropped a cup of coffee off of the counter and shouted out. Pipsqueak came tearing in and attacked Henry, JRT dog. Pip blames the dogs for everything that he views as going wrong and aggressively so. This has also caused health problems in Pip i.e., FIC - blood in urine which can be caused by stress in felines. We do have medication for him and I will delve into that in the other thread.

I call Pipsqueak my "high maintenance" kitty of all time. Life is certainly not boring with Pip but it worries me that he stresses so over everything.
 
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vball91

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I am not sure if Aria's behavior would be considered separation anxiety or not, and I have not witnessed it. I sometimes need to be away for 3-4 days for work, and my husband says that when I'm gone, Aria is very clingy and needy and meowing constantly. She wants to be on his lap constantly (but that's pretty normal), just much more insistently. Aria was either abandoned or got very very lost, so there could be some rationale for her behavior that's unknown to me.

Or, she could just be asking my husband where her personal slave is:)
 

steve0

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 Since February 3rd I have been fostering two beautiful cats who are brothers..The idea was to keep all 3, they had a sister I adopted to an excellent home.

My daughter changed her mind and doesn't want the short haired on called Zip-Zap. so now I'm the owner of two yellow cats like I said b4. 

These two cats I have are gr8 & loving animals I am so happy I trapped them and rescued them from the weather and starvation After a bitter cold cruel night, I looked out my back door to see 4 cats piled up on one another to absorb heat and stay warm. This broke my heart. There was no other choice Trap and keep them

B  U  T 

Today I heard one of them throwing up.

After further investigating I saw wot looked like runny feces in their cage,but it was food that was voided  They have been fixed, chipped but still have not had their 3mth. shoots

Could this be why one is sick?

Am getting so sad over this as I don't have the $MONEY$ to take them to the vet

This is another reason why I am thinking they would be happier with a family setting, ie: children etc.

I feel terrible about their confinement status,waiting till another room opens up in my house for  better surroundings.

HONESTLY! I don't think I can do this because of my disability and DO NOT want them in a cruel place...I'm attached & love them BUT

want to do the best for them...so today its off to get some Laxatone Hopefully  it's only a hair ball The one I think was throwing-up is a Beautiful LONG haired kitty
 

socksjr

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When me and my family left for vacation one year, we left her home and had a family friend come check on her every day to deal with the litter box and such. The first time we left her, it was a much shorter time of only two days. This time we were gone for a full week. When we got back, her fur typically being incredibly soft and kept up, was natted, dirty, and was rough, like a rug. According to the family friend, she came out the first 3 days, but then stopped and was hiding under the couch each time she came over. She meowed a lot too. She was fine the day we got back. Well, OK I guess. She cleaned up her fur in about 2 days and it was back to its soft self, and she was back to her normal, meowing and eating-stuff self. She has never been on any medication except for eye drops, and is spayed.

When we left on the most recent trip this year, we had her stay a friend of my mothers, who Lily(cat) sees often, and she was fine.

Just wanted to contribute to this topic. :)
 

yayi

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When I left for a week my cats would spend most of the day and the whole night, by my bedroom door. They would pace around and paw at the door when awake. They hardly ate and the vocal ones were noisier than usual. This is all according to the people who stayed in the house to take care of them. It may not be SAD but if it was I think it might be even contagious among kitties. I mean, all of them behaving the same way? 

The funny thing was that when I came back, they ignored me. Only when I showered and changed to regular house clothes, did they all rush up to me asking for cuddles and kisses. 
I guess it was the "stranger" scent of travel in me when I came through the front door that made them not recognize me? 
 

katnurse

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Working in the field of Veterinary Health care, I see a many different "suspected" anxiety disorders/behaviors. After ruling out any possible health related causes, many pt.'s have had positive results from anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications. I must admit, I can not remember ever "hearing" of a cat having "separation anxiety". Much more common, to see in dogs, for sure. But, then after reading the other Posts, I do have an unusual case to share. I regularly Cat-Sit for several of our clients, and one of them has 2 gorgeous Lilac Pt. Siamese. One is a sweetheart, and the other is the devil- incarnate. I adore them both. I tend to be drawn to the "fractious" cats, the misunderstood cats, the bottle-fed babies, etc. With the"sweet one" , I have noted a pattern with him if owner is away for an extended period.1.He starts pulling his hair out on his back. This always begins around day 6 or 7 of owners absence. 2.Then I notice his mood changes. He seems truly depressed. Markedly less active, and really, sad. By the time owners return- he has bald patches on one or both sides of back, and his asthma has started flaring up, even though, meds are given as ordered ( Prednisone, Hydroxyzine, and Amitriptyline). When family returns, all goes back to normal. I think, he just misses his  family!  See, cats do care about their people. 
 
 

rv-kitty

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I have never seen this in any of the cats I've owned.  Some seem happy to see me come home after a shopping trip. But that's about all.
 
 

mary louise

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My late silver tabby Baby had the worst case of separation anxiety I've ever seen.  When we went off to Hawaii for a vacation, we boarded him along with two other cats, Izzy and Pee-Wee.  We were worried about Pee-Wee originally, but later, our vets almost told us to come home early because Baby wouldn't eat.  He went on a hunger strike!  He had never been separated from us before; dogs were also present, and Baby did not like dogs at all.  By the way, when we came to pick the cats up, Izzy put on a demonstration of Siamese strength by climbing out of his cardboard carrier!  

I'm about to take our current kitty, Squeaky, to the vets for his annual checkup, and he, too, is developing separation anxiety.  How can we properly prepare him for his visit?
 
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