Cats can experience anxiety when they are bored and left alone for too long, and they may act out with destructive behavior that includes pulling out their fur and destroying the house. Thankfully, once the cat is diagnosed, the pet parent can take steps to help reduce their cat’s anxiety, including cat anxiety medication and training. However, there’s no way of knowing if the cat will experience any adverse side effects from medication, so pet parents may want to try training first.
3 Training Exercises for a Cat With Anxiety
When it comes to training pets, most pet parents immediately think of dogs doing tricks. However, pet training offers many more benefits than just cool tricks. Cats are very trainable if adequately motivated, especially if training is part of the pet parent’s kitten care plan.
When it comes to training a cat with anxiety, the pet parent will need to identify what triggers the cat’s anxiety and try to avoid those triggers. Many cats experience separation anxiety from their pet parent and may not like being left alone.
The following cat advice will help pet parents reduce their cat’s separation anxiety.
1. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is when the pet parent rewards their cat for good behavior. The reward is usually the cat's favorite treat or praise. The pet parent can also create a comfortable space for their cat, and the cat is only allowed access when the pet parent is leaving the house. The pet parent will take their cat to that space, reward them with their favorite treat or toy, and leave. This training method creates a positive experience for the cat before the pet parent leaves home.
2. Pet Parent Behavior Cues
Cats are highly intelligent and can understand cues such as picking up keys or a purse. These cues can cause the cat to become anxious immediately.
Pet parents can use positive reinforcement to turn these cues into a positive experience by performing the cue without leaving. They can pick up their keys, purse, or coat without leaving the house and instead reward the cat. Now the cat won’t immediately get worked up when the pet parent does leave.
Items such as feeder toys and cat trees are excellent ways to keep a cat occupied. For example, instead of putting the cat’s food in a bowl in the morning, the pet parent can put the food in a feeder toy. Cats are excellent problem solvers, and feeder toys can keep them entertained and stimulated for hours.
Additionally, multiple cat trees and cat condos placed around the home will give the cat multiple areas to climb and scratch. Cat trees are an excellent way to stop a cat from scratching the furniture. Also, cats feel safer and less anxious when they're in higher elevations in the house.
Additional Cat Health Advice
If training isn’t effective enough to stop the cat’s destructive behaviors, the pet parent should ask about alternative options and medications.
Fuzzy is here to help 24/7 via Live Vet Chat and can answer any questions or concerns pet parents have about cat anxiety, training and behavior.