Behavior problems stemming from fearful felines often play a significant role in breaking down the bond between cat and human. An anxious cat can lead to property destruction, health issues and behavior problems that could ultimately result in relinquishment of the cat to a shelter, or even euthanasia.
It doesn’t have to be this way, as hundreds of options exist to help keep cats calm and assist cat owners in regaining peace and tranquility in their home.
According to data from a recent American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, 24 percent of cats suffer from anxiety or fear, and over half of these animals are never treated for the issue. The average person who treats their cat for anxiety spends an average of $1,149, with nearly 60 percent of that spent on damaged property, and 40 percent spent on visits to the veterinarian.
There are many ways to treat anxiety in cats. Common methods include behavior modification, environmental management and prescription medication, as well as homeopathic and calming aids.
Calming aids are widely available for cats, but not everyone knows about them. Some of the more popular aids include sprays, diffusers, collars and even treats.
One of the most popular is pheromone therapy. Pheromones are chemical signals used to communicate between members of the same species. To detect the pheromones, animals use the flehmen response, which can be observed when the animal curls back its upper lip, exposing its front teeth. This helps transfer the pheromones into the vomeronasal organ, which is located above the roof of the mouth.
Feliway, manufactured by Ceva, contains a synthetic copy of the facial pheromone and helps cats cope with changes in their environment or other stressful situations.
Also available is Nature’s Miracle No Stress Calming Spray for cats, which contains soothing pheromones and herbal extracts for a natural solution to stress. The proprietary blend of lavender, chamomile and sage helps reduce stress and decrease anxiety, resulting in a cat less likely to bite, scratch, hiss or act unfriendly. The concentrated formula is safe to use around children and pets.
For cats who don’t react well to sprays, Sentry’s new lavender Calming Collar helps cats stay calm by releasing stress-relieving pheromones in a sustained release form. Each breakaway collar lasts up to 30 days.
For the food-motivated feline, chews and treats like Nutri-Vet’s tuna-flavored Pet Ease Soft Chews utilize natural calmants such as chamomile, hops, tryptophan and ginger root to relax a cat.
The pet care industry has seen tremendous growth in the markets of natural and alternative medicine.
Natural remedies, such as Bach Rescue Remedy, utilize a proprietary blend of herbs to help offset anxiety in pets. The original Bach Flower Remedies has been used on humans and animals for more than 80 years.
“HomeoPet is a long-established maker of veterinary homeopathic remedies that are targeted to reducing or eliminating a pet’s anxieties,” Tom Farrington said on HomePet’s website. “HomeoPet’s remedies are designed and prepared under veterinary supervision, providing assurance of their quality and the role they can play in veterinary medicine.”
The company’s Feline Anxiety Relief can be used to treat relief of general anxiety in cats and kittens. Such situations could include veterinarian visits, traveling, the introduction of new pets or spaying.
For cats who don’t respond to pheromone therapy or natural remedies, or are in homes where allergies are an issue, calming aids also come in the form of clothing.
“Using pressure to relieve anxiety has been a common practice for years,” Phil Blizzard, founder of Thundershirt, said. “Think of parents swaddling their newborn infant, and people with autism use pressure to relieve persistent anxiety. Thundershirt is proven effective for over 80 percent of dogs, and early feedback suggests Thundershirt for Cats will be just as effective.”
A cat’s surroundings can also impact their stress levels.
“Environmental enrichment is critical to keeping a lid on stress because it provides opportunities for a cat to engage in normal, natural activities,” Pam Johnson-Bennett, host of Psycho Kitty on Animal Planet UK, said. “Since cats are territorial and very in-tune with their environment, it would make sense that the more stimulating and comforting the surroundings, the more beneficial to emotional, physical and mental health.”
Every cat should have a place to climb, a place where they can escape, and a place where they feel safe.
Furniture designed for felines can range from simple to complex. The Catnap Lounger and Hooded Hideaway from PetLinks are perfect examples of products a retailer can carry to help owners create a private sleeping spot for their pet. The soft and cozy fabrics are machine-washable, stylish and unobtrusive.
Catty Stacks incorporates a simple design that not only allows a cat to climb, but allows them to hide. These simple cubes fashioned from high-density cardboard are easy to assemble, cost-effective and appealing to both cat and human.