What is Extreme Fear and Anxiety?
Fear and anxiety can be difficult for both your cat and your family. A loss of appetite or destructive behavior could lead to illness or injury for your four-legged friend. The fear and anxiety can also cause your cat to become aggressive towards other pets and members of your household.
Cats experience extreme fear and anxiety when a situation becomes too much for them to handle. A stressful situation can bring on feelings ranging from mild fear to anxiety. A current situation, fear of the unknown, or memory of an event can trigger these feelings in your cat.
Symptoms of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Cats
Your cat may display the following symptoms due to feelings of extreme fear and anxiety:
- Hiding and withdrawal
- Excessive grooming
- Excessive vocalization
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Depression or lethargy
- Visible shaking or trembling
- Soiling or spraying around house
- Aggressive or destructive behavior
Causes of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Cats
Extreme fear and anxiety can be caused by a variety of situations. You may notice a change in your cat due to the following causes:
- Illness or injury
- Separation anxiety
- Traumatic experience
- Loud or startling noises
- Changes in household
- Unfamiliar people, animals or environment
- Roughness from people
- Bullying from other animals
- Car or plane rides
- Confinement, such as sitting inside a crate or carrier
- Lack of social environment
- Unclean litter box
If your cat is sick, injured or does not feel safe, they may start displaying the clinical signs of extreme fear and anxiety.
Diagnosis of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Cats
It may be difficult to take your cat to the veterinarian when they are displaying signs of fear and anxiety. However, your veterinarian needs to make sure the symptoms are not related to another health issue. Your veterinarian will talk to you about their symptoms and medical history. You should also expect to discuss any events that may contribute to their fear. You can help your veterinarian make an accurate diagnosis by writing down the symptoms and behavior changes your cat is displaying.
There is always a chance an illness, injury or toxic exposure is the cause of their fear and anxiety. A physical exam and blood test can identify or rule out another health condition.
It is important to take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any symptoms or behavior changes. The key is to identify the problem and help your cat to feel comfortable with the situation.
Treatment of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Cats
The treatment of extreme fear and anxiety is done on an individual basis. You may be given training techniques to try at home, or your cat may need to be hospitalized while your veterinarian works with them.
Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help with the fear and anxiety. This may include something to treat their illness, injury or motion sickness, as well as . Your cat may need to stay at the hospital until the medication starts to work.
Your cat may need training to change their behavior and help them cope with their fears. Your veterinarian may recommend visiting a behavior therapist for extreme anxiety.
Training At Home
You should always talk to your veterinarian before starting any training at home. Your veterinarian can provide tips on how to train your cat based on their own fears and anxiety. One example would be training your cat to sit inside their carrier during a car drive. Start by keeping your cat as comfortable as possible, such as placing their favorite blanket inside their carrier. Small steps are essential to getting your cat used to the situation. It may start with your cat sitting in their carrier for several minutes and end with a short car drive around the block. Be sure to give your cat plenty of love, attention and encouragement so they feel safe. You should always avoid punishment because this could make your cat feel worse.
The training depends on your cat, the situation and discussion with your veterinarian. What works for one cat may not work for another cat, and you want to come up with a training routine that is just right for your furry friend.
Recovery of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Cats
Extreme fear and anxiety are not known as life-threatening conditions, but it is still important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian. This way, you can check the progress of the treatment and make sure your cat has not developed any other conditions.
It could take a while to help your cat cope with their fears, and there is a chance your cat is just naturally anxious. The best thing you can do is work with your veterinarian, train your cat to cope with anxiety and avoid stressful situations whenever possible.