Cats after quarantine: how will they experience the change? Practical advice

Cats after quarantine may also have separation anxiety problems like dogs. Experts give us advice on how to best manage change.

Cats are not as indifferent to their owners as they may seem, and may even have separation anxiety when left alone, just like dogs do. A study brought this issue to light by interviewing 130 Brazilian cat owners. It was found that one in ten cats exhibited problematic behaviors when left alone, including aggression, depression, and inappropriate defecation. After the emergency of the quarantine, the danger for our cat is that he experiences the return to normal life as something stressful.

Separation anxiety in cats

At least one in ten cats exhibited behavioral problems when they were away from their humans – with a higher frequency in families with one pet and in those without cat toys. Additionally, cats appear to be more likely to have separation problems if they live in a home without women (or more than one), or with young adult owners (ages 18 to 35).

Behavioral problems reported include aggression, depression, excessive vocalization, and inadequate defecation and urination. The researchers conclude that despite their distinct reputation, this social nature of cats means they can develop bonds with owners. But for cat owners this is certainly nothing new.

The signs to consider

This study provides information on the behavioral signs that demonstrate separation-related problems among domestic cats, and also offers insights into the management practices used by owners. Of course, it is important to know these signs and practices for resolving post-quarantine cat problems that have a high probability of occurring .

The study found that about 13% of cats (30 out of 223 sampled) may have signs consistent with separation anxiety. Tests also indicated that 20 of the 30 cats exhibit destructive and other similar behaviors, or even problematic mental states. These include excessive vocalization (19 of 30 cats), inappropriate urination (18 cats), depression-apathy (16 cats), aggression (11 cats), agitation-anxiety (11 cats) and inappropriate defecation (7 cats).

These findings can help owners identify ways to reduce their furry friends’ separation problems, for example by providing more toys and addressing other environmental factors.

The routine

Cats (but also dogs) are now in close contact with their family, and are slowly getting used to this way of life. And as pets are very habitual, when their owners return to work, to social life, and in general to being away from home as before, this will be a big problem, which could also lead to psychological illnesses.

The cat is even more sensitive to routine than the dog. Sometimes she also feels discomfort when a member of her family is away for a few days, or if surprise guests arrive at the house. But in any case, we emphasize that all this only proves that the cat bonds with its owner, becomes attached as much as dogs, only in a different way.

How to intervene

The best thing, in order to avoid problems in cats after quarantine, is not to be attached to them 24 hours a day, to leave moments of solitude and peace. Maybe letting them stay in another room than where we are, so as to get them used to not being dependent on our presence.

Of course, it’s best not to jump to conclusions on your own, but to visit our vet whenever possible to make sure your cat is suffering from separation anxiety. At that point we could use behavior modification techniques to reduce his stress.

Buying a scratch puller, if it’s not already at home, is a great place to start. This accessory serves as a place to sleep, play, climb, scratch, and when placed near a window it will provide a front row seat for outside bird watching. 

Also, a great method is to reward the cat when it is quiet or does something to entertain itself. In this way we are rewarding the behavior we want to review, and not the unwanted behaviors. 

Finally, we can involve the cat in hunting games, using a ribbon to which we attach a piece of aluminum foil, or a toy, or a feather. For a cat, a hunter even indoors, being able to grab prey and enjoy a successful catch is the height of joy and satisfaction.

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