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Question
Posted by: Jackie | 2013-02-12

Cat (1yr) do not leave me alone for a second

My cat is now just over a year old. She was taken from the wild, we guess at about 4 weeks, so we bottle fed her. She usually follows me everywhere and when ever I sit down, she sits on my lap, and sleeps in our bed. We left her alone for 1 week during December, and when we came back, she didn''t leave me alone for a second and made this funny noises and looking at me. After about 2 weeks of this, she was herself again. Now for the past 2/3 weeks she is even worse. When I leave for work she scratches my clothes cupboards until she can get in, sleeps there, untill I get home. She meets me at the door and make her funny noises until I sit down with her on my lap. Everytime I speak, she makes these nioses. When I go to the bathroom, she sits on my lap. When I cook I have to keep her in my arms, like a baby. This morning, as I got in the bath, she didn''t just sat there looking at me, she actually climb onto my arm, so I slowly dropped my arm into the water, thinking that will put her off, it didn''t. she just sat there on me, with half of her body in the water. She wants nothing to do with my son or husband, she used to play with them a lot.
Me &  my husband did go through a tough time in November / December, and sometimes I still feel recentment towards him, I don''t know if this affects my little cat. Should I take her to the Vet, or change anything I do? Is it because I give her too much attention? I constantly talk to her..

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Our expert says:
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Separation anxiety is a dislike of and discomfort with solitude. It is a common behavioural disorder of dogs. Younger animals are often affected. A history of being adopted from an animal shelter is common. While separation anxiety is fairly common in dogs, it is rarely diagnosed in cats. While dogs instinctively want to be part of a pack, cats are typically loners, and are not as likely to get distressed when their owner is away. However, some cats are truly social creatures, and they develop strong bonds with people and other animals. When these relationships get disrupted in any way, cats may exhibit signs of separation anxiety.

The criteria for diagnosis of separation anxiety in cats have not been clearly established as yet. Besides displaying clingy and possessive behaviour, cats with separation anxiety may display signs such as inappropriate urination and/or defecation, vomiting, vocalization, excessive grooming, and poor appetite. Treatment of separation anxiety has typically involved a behaviour modification program with or without the use of anti-anxiety drugs. Typically, pet owners are told to ignore their pet for about a half hour before leaving the house. Departures should be low-key, with no fanfare. Before leaving, cat owners should leave a special item for the cat, like a food-filled toy or treat, so the cat associates something positive with the owner’s departure. When returning, owners are to ignore their cat, interacting with him/her only when they are calm and relaxed. The latter rewards the pet for calm behaviour. Punishment for bad behaviour while the owner was gone, such as urinating or defecating, should never be done. During the rest of the time at home, owners of animals with separation anxiety should interact with the pet only when the animal is calm, and at the owner’s own initiative. Again, this teaches the pet that s/he is more likely to get attention if he is relaxed. The cat is allowed to lie down near the owner, but physical contact should be discouraged. Pet owners are also encouraged to put on their coat or take out their keys (cues that tell a pet when owners are ready to leave) at times other than departure. This helps teach a pet to become indifferent to those cues. While some behaviourists suggest getting a companion cat, I would be very cautious that this may or may not work. There are a lot of cats who live with other cats that show signs of separation anxiety.
Most pets respond well to behavioural therapy for separation anxiety, however, some need additional therapy, in the form of psychoactive medication. This may be true of cats as well. Anxiety is the underlying feature of separation anxiety syndrome, and control of anxiety using medications that interfere with the physiologic stress response may be the most useful in alleviating clinical signs of separation anxiety. There are products available for the treatment of separation anxiety. The drugs reduce the clinical signs of separation anxiety by affecting the chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. Animals receiving these medications experience a decreased level of fear and anxiety and increased responsiveness to behaviour modification protocols. There are many anti-anxiety drugs available for use in cats. Consult your veterinarian as to which drug might be the most appropriate, if behaviour modification techniques alone are ineffective.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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