How to Calm an Anxious Cat: Your Complete Guide to a Happier Feline

How to calm an anxious cat

As a cat owner, you might have noticed your furry friend acting anxious or stressed at times. You’re not alone! Anxiety is a common issue faced by cats, and it’s essential to understand how to calm an anxious cat effectively. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different signs of feline anxiety, common triggers, and practical tips to create a comfortable environment for your anxious cat. We’ll also explore various anxiety-reducing techniques, treatments, and supplements, and discuss when to consult a professional.

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So, sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of feline anxiety to help your cat feel more at ease! Remember, our ultimate goal is to support your anxious kitty and make their life as comfortable as possible.

How to calm an anxious cat?

To calm an anxious cat, create a safe space with hiding spots, keep a consistent routine, engage in interactive play, utilize calming scents and soothing music, and explore puzzle feeders or clicker training. In cases of severe anxiety, consider natural supplements like L-Theanine or CBD oil, or seek professional assistance.

This brief summary is merely the tip of the iceberg; delve deeper into our extensive guide below to reveal a treasure trove of thorough information and an array of methods to skillfully comfort and support your cherished feline companion.

Identifying Signs of Anxiety in Cats

Anxious cat with worried eyes hiding in a cardboard box

Understanding the signs of anxiety in cats is the first step in helping them feel more relaxed. Cats, being the mysterious creatures they are, may show a variety of behavioral and physical signs that they’re anxious.

Behavioral signs

“Cats can be silent sufferers. They can hide their stress until it kind of explodes into something that’s obvious to people.”

– Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado PhD

It’s essential to learn how to recognize the signs of anxiety in your cat, as they might not always display obvious symptoms. By understanding their behavior and subtle cues, you can help address their anxiety and improve their well-being. Some common signs of anxiety in cats include:

  1. Hiding: An anxious cat may seek refuge in hidden spots to escape perceived threats or stressors. This behavior is their way of coping with overwhelming situations, but prolonged hiding could indicate a more serious issue.
  2. Excessive grooming: Over-grooming may be a sign of stress, and it can lead to hair loss and skin irritation. Cats might lick or chew at their fur obsessively as a self-soothing mechanism.
  3. Aggression: Cats may become irritable and display aggressive behavior towards other animals or humans when anxious. This could include hissing, growling, swatting, or even biting.
  4. Vocalizations: Anxious cats may meow or yowl more than usual, especially during the night. These vocalizations are their way of expressing discomfort or unease.

Physical signs

Physical symptoms of anxiety in cats can sometimes be mistaken for other health issues, so it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian if you notice any changes in your cat’s well-being. Here are some physical signs of anxiety in cats:

  1. Loss of appetite: Anxiety can cause cats to lose interest in food, leading to weight loss and other health issues. This could be due to a reduced sense of security or simply feeling too stressed to eat.
  2. Litter box issues: Anxious cats may have accidents outside the litter box or become overly fastidious about their bathroom habits. This can be their way of marking territory or a reaction to stress in their environment.
  3. Vomiting or diarrhea: Stress can cause digestive issues, leading to vomiting or diarrhea in some cats. If your cat experiences these symptoms frequently, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions.

Common signs of anxiety in cats

While we’ve covered specific behavioral and physical signs of anxiety in cats, it’s essential to be aware of some general indicators that your feline friend may be experiencing stress or discomfort. These common signs can help you recognize when your cat might need extra support or intervention:

  1. Restlessness or pacing: An anxious cat might have difficulty settling down or finding a comfortable place to rest. They may pace back and forth, appearing unsettled or unable to relax.
  2. Tail flicking or puffing: Cats may flick or puff their tails when they’re anxious or agitated. This body language is their way of signaling distress or unease to other animals or humans.
  3. Dilated pupils: When a cat is feeling stressed or frightened, their pupils may dilate as a result of increased adrenaline. This physiological response prepares them for a potential fight or flight situation.
  4. Excessive shedding: Cats under stress may shed more than usual. While shedding is a normal part of a cat’s life, increased shedding could be a sign of anxiety.

Being aware of these common signs of anxiety in cats can help you provide the necessary support and interventions to ensure your feline companion feels safe and secure in their environment.

Remember, every cat is different, and some may display more subtle signs of anxiety than others. It’s crucial to be observant and recognize any changes in your cat’s behavior or physical well-being.

Common Triggers of Anxiety in Cats

Scared cat crouched with with puffed hair

To calm an anxious cat effectively, you need to become a bit of a cat psychologist. Understanding the common triggers that lead to anxiety in our feline companions is crucial. Identifying these triggers allows you to take proactive steps in creating a more comforting and secure environment for your cat.

Changes in the environment

Cats are creatures of habit, so when their world gets shaken up, they might feel like they’ve been tossed into the spin cycle of a washing machine. Some common environmental changes that may make your cat feel like it’s walking on eggshells include:

  • Moving: Imagine being teleported to Mars without warning. That’s how a cat might feel when they move to a new home. Unfamiliar surroundings, scents, and sounds can be a recipe for anxiety.
  • New family members or pets: Just like we feel anxious when we start a new job and meet new coworkers, cats can feel uneasy when they have to share their space with unfamiliar humans or animals. They might worry about how this newcomer will affect their daily life and resources.
  • Loud noises: Ever jumped out of your skin when someone unexpectedly slammed a door? Cats are no different when it comes to sudden, loud noises like thunder, fireworks, or construction work. Some cats may even develop noise phobias, turning them into nervous wrecks whenever they hear a loud sound.

Past traumas

For cats that have experienced past traumas, anxiety can be like an old, worn-out suitcase they just can’t seem to shake off. These traumatic experiences can leave lasting emotional baggage, causing your cat to feel stressed or frightened in situations that remind them of their past. Common sources of past traumas include:

  • Abuse: Cats that have been physically or emotionally abused can become anxious when something reminds them of their past experiences. They may be more sensitive to loud noises or sudden movements, making them feel like they’re walking on a tightrope. These cats require extra patience and understanding from their owners.
  • Neglect: Cats that have been neglected or deprived of proper care may develop anxiety as a result of their past experiences. Picture a starving artist who’s always worried about their next meal; neglected cats may feel similarly stressed when they’re uncertain about their environment or access to resources.
  • Previous traumatic experiences: Traumatic events like car accidents, natural disasters, or even a trip to the vet-gone-wrong can haunt a cat’s emotional well-being. These cats may become anxious when confronted with situations or stimuli that remind them of their past trauma, like the sound of a car engine or the smell of a vet’s office.

Separation Anxiety

In addition to environmental changes and past traumas, separation anxiety is another common trigger of anxiety in cats. While this issue has been insufficiently studied, it is recognized that some cats may exhibit behavioral problems when separated from their attachment person. Signs of separation anxiety in cats may include destructive behavior, excessive vocalization, urination in inappropriate places, depression-apathy, aggressiveness, and agitation-anxiety.

A study published in PLOS ONE found that 13.45% of domestic cats showed behaviors indicative of separation-related problems when their owners were absent. The study also suggested that the number of female humans in the house, frequency and number of daily hours the cat is left alone, the lack of use of environmental enrichment (e.g. toys), and the absence of other animals in the house could make cats more prone to developing separation-related problems.

To better understand if your cat is experiencing separation anxiety, we recommend taking our “Does my cat have separation anxiety Quiz“. This quiz can help you identify the signs and provide insights into your cat’s emotional well-being.

Owner’s Personality Impact

In a “pawsitively” intriguing study, researchers explored the often overlooked human factor in feline well-being. We humans tend to focus on our cats’ physical environment, but this research suggests that we should also take a closer look at our own personalities and how they affect our furry friends’ social environment. After all, who’s really ruling the roost?

🐱 Did you know that your purr-sonality affects your cat’s well-being? A recent study found that cats with neurotic owners are more likely to be less healthy! 🏥 Be mindful of how your own behavior impacts your feline friend. #CatWellBeing #FelineFriends”

A Tale of Two Personalities: Cat Owners and Their Feline Effects

The study surveyed 3,331 cat owners in the UK, asking about their personality traits and their cats’ health and behavior. The results were quite “a-meow-zing,” showing that cats with neurotic owners faced a higher risk of ongoing medical conditions, being overweight, and displaying stress-induced or aggressive behaviors. It seems that even our feline overlords aren’t immune to the emotional rollercoasters of their human subjects!

On the flip side, agreeable owners had cats with normal weight and fewer aggressive or aloof behaviors. Furthermore, cats with extroverted, open-minded, and conscientious owners were reported to be more sociable. So, it turns out that we might have more of an impact on our cats than we initially thought – or perhaps they’re just exceptionally good at training us.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag: Future Research Possibilities

While the study highlights a fascinating correlation between the owner’s personality traits and their cat’s behavior and welfare, it’s essential to remember that causation hasn’t been established (yet). Further research is needed to determine if our personalities have a direct impact on our feline friends’ well-being. For now, this study serves as an eye-opening starting point for understanding how our human quirks may affect our cat companions, both positively and negatively. As the saying goes, “curiosity killed the cat,” but maybe it’s time for our own curiosity to take the lead and learn more about the human-feline dynamic.

By understanding these common triggers, you can help your cat unpack that emotional baggage and alleviate their stress.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment

Calm and relaxed cat perched on a tall  floor to ceiling cat tree with shelves

An essential step in learning how to calm an anxious cat is to create a safe haven where your cat can feel secure and relaxed. Think of your cat’s living space like a cozy retreat where they can escape life’s daily stresses. By providing hiding spots, maintaining consistency, and reducing exposure to stressors, you can help your cat feel at ease.

Provide hiding spots and perches

Cats are natural climbers and love to observe their environment from above. Ensuring they have plenty of places to hide and perch will help them feel more in control and secure. Consider the following:

  • Cat trees: These cat-friendly condos give your feline friend the perfect perch to survey their domain. They’re like the penthouse suite of the feline world!
  • Boxes or cat caves: A simple cardboard box or a cozy cat cave can provide a hideout for your cat when they need some alone time. It’s like having their very own secret lair to plot their world domination (or just take a nap).
😺 Is your cat anxious? Create a calming oasis 🌴 for them by providing a safe, quiet space with cozy bedding, and toys. Remember, a happy cat is a relaxed cat! #AnxiousCats #CatComforts

Consistency and routine

Cats are creatures of habit, so maintaining a consistent routine is key to reducing their anxiety. Much like how we feel calmer knowing our daily schedule, cats also find solace in routine. Focus on:

  • Feeding times: Stick to a consistent schedule for mealtime. This helps prevent your cat from transforming into a feline version of The Hulk due to hunger-fueled anxiety.
  • Playtime: Regular play sessions not only help to burn off energy but also provide mental stimulation for your cat. Plus, who doesn’t love watching their cat perform gravity-defying leaps and ninja-like moves?
  • Sleeping spots: Cats spend about 70% of their lives sleeping, so make sure they have designated cozy spots to catch some Z’s.
Pro tip: Regular playtime and exercise 🏃‍♂️🐈 can help reduce anxiety in cats. Keep them active and entertained with stimulating toys and games! #ActiveCats #CatPlaytime

Reducing exposure to stressors

Minimize your cat’s exposure to stress-inducing situations, such as loud noises or unfamiliar guests. For example, you can create a quiet room for your cat to retreat to during noisy events like parties or fireworks displays.

Creating a consistent routine

A structured daily routine gives your cat predictability and security. By incorporating regular mealtimes, play sessions, and grooming routines, you’re sending a clear message to your cat: “I’ve got your back, and life’s uncertainties won’t get the best of you.”

With a safe and comfortable environment in place, your cat will be more equipped to handle life’s curveballs, making them feel more at ease and less anxious.

Implementing Anxiety-Reducing Techniques

Cat high on catnip and relaxing on the floor

Now that you’ve created a comfortable environment, it’s time to get hands-on with some anxiety-reducing techniques. By engaging your cat in interactive play, using calming scents, and employing other stress-relief tactics, you’ll help your furry friend overcome their anxiety and live a happier life.

Interactive Play: Fun and Games for a Happy Kitty

Engaging your cat in interactive play is crucial for their mental and physical well-being. Regular playtime not only helps burn off excess energy but also strengthens the bond between you and your cat. Consider the following:

  • Importance of play: Playing with your cat promotes mental stimulation, physical exercise, and social bonding. It’s like a feline trifecta of happiness!
  • Types of toys: Experiment with a variety of toys, such as feather wands, laser pointers, or even a good old-fashioned crumpled piece of paper. The key is to keep your cat engaged and interested.

Calming Scents and Pheromones: Soothing Smells for a Happy Cat

Cats have a powerful sense of smell, and using calming scents or pheromones can help reduce anxiety. Here are some scents to consider:

  • Feliway: This synthetic pheromone mimics the natural facial pheromones cats release when they feel safe and secure. It’s like a calming feline perfume! Help your kitty feel at ease with Feliway’s comforting effects.
  • Catnip: Many cats find the scent of catnip relaxing. Just a pinch of this magical herb can transform your cat into a purring machine.

Calming Music or White Noise: A Symphony for Serenity

Just like us, cats can benefit from the soothing effects of music and white noise. Try playing the following:

  • Cat-specific music: There’s music specifically designed to calm cats, with frequencies and tones tailored to feline ears. It’s like a kitty lullaby.
  • White noise machines: These devices create a consistent, calming sound that can help mask sudden, anxiety-inducing noises.

The Healing Power of Touch and Massage: Pawsitive Connection

A gentle touch can have a significant impact on your cat’s anxiety levels. When your feline friend is feeling stressed, try giving them a calming massage. Focus on areas they enjoy being petted, such as their head, cheeks, and back. Use slow, gentle strokes to help them relax. Just a few minutes of this soothing touch can work wonders in reducing their anxiety. Remember to respect your cat’s boundaries and stop if they show signs of discomfort. With patience and a gentle touch, you can help your anxious cat feel more relaxed and secure.

💡 Did you know that a gentle massage 💆‍♀️🐱 can help your anxious cat relax? Just a few minutes of gentle petting and massage can work wonders! Give it a try and watch the stress melt away. #CatMassage #RelaxedFelines

Utilizing Puzzle Feeders: Mind Games for Your Kitty

Puzzle feeders are a fantastic way to keep your cat mentally stimulated and entertained, as they tap into their natural instincts to hunt for food. These feeders come in various forms, from balls with holes to more elaborate mazes, and challenge your cat to work for their meal. By keeping your cat’s mind occupied and engaged, puzzle feeders can help reduce anxiety and prevent boredom-related behaviors. Plus, they’re a fantastic way to help manage your cat’s weight, as they’ll need to work for every delicious morsel.

Scent Therapy (Pheromones): The Nose Knows Best

Pheromone therapy, using cat calming aids like pheromones, can be an effective way to help create a soothing environment for your anxious cat. These synthetic pheromones mimic the natural ones produced by cats, signaling a sense of calm and security. Available in diffusers, sprays, and collars, pheromone therapy can be used throughout your home to help your cat feel more at ease. It’s an excellent tool for reducing anxiety, especially during times of change or stress, such as moving or introducing a new pet.

Clicker Training: Positive Reinforcement for Positive Change

Clicker training is a powerful positive reinforcement technique that can help transform your cat’s anxiety into more constructive behaviors. This training method uses a small device that makes a “click” sound when pressed, followed by a reward (usually a treat) for desired behaviors. With consistency and practice, your cat will begin to associate the click with a reward, allowing you to shape their actions effectively. Not only will clicker training help reduce anxiety, but it will also foster a stronger bond between you and your feline friend, making for a happier and more harmonious home.

By incorporating these anxiety-reducing techniques into your cat’s daily routine, you’ll help them feel more secure and better equipped to handle life’s challenges.

Using Anxiety Treatments and Supplements

Benefits of Valerian root for calming anxious cats

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our cats may still struggle with anxiety. In these cases, it might be necessary to consider anxiety treatments and supplements. From prescription medications to natural remedies, there are options available to help your cat feel more at ease.

Prescription medications

In some situations, a veterinarian may recommend prescription medications to help manage your cat’s anxiety. Keep the following points in mind:

  • Types of medications: Common prescription medications for feline anxiety include benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine. These medications work by altering the brain chemistry to promote relaxation.
  • Consulting a veterinarian: Always consult with a veterinarian before administering any prescription medication to your cat. They’ll consider your cat’s unique needs and circumstances to recommend the most appropriate treatment.

Natural supplements

If you prefer a more natural approach, there are several supplements available that can help reduce anxiety in cats. Some popular options include:

  • L-Theanine: This amino acid, commonly found in green tea, can help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality in cats. A calming cuppa for your kitty, if you will. With L-Theanine, you can give your feline friend the benefits of a soothing supplement.
  • Valerian root: Often used as a natural sleep aid in humans, valerian root can also help alleviate stress and anxiety in cats. It’s like a herbal chill pill for your feline friend.
  • CBD oil: Derived from the hemp plant, CBD oil has gained popularity for its potential anxiety-relieving properties. Just make sure to consult with a veterinarian before administering CBD to your cat, as the optimal dosage can vary depending on individual factors.

Remember, every cat is different, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before introducing any new supplements or treatments to your cat’s routine.

When to Consult a Professional

Vet examines anxious Persian cat

While it’s normal for cats to experience occasional stress or anxiety, sometimes the situation can become more severe or persistent. In such cases, it’s crucial to know when to consult a professional to ensure your feline friend receives the proper care and guidance.

Persistent or severe anxiety

If your cat’s anxiety doesn’t improve despite your best efforts or seems to worsen over time, it might be time to seek professional help. Some signs that indicate professional assistance may be needed include:

  • Persistent or worsening anxiety symptoms
  • Self-destructive behaviors (e.g., over-grooming to the point of injury)
  • Aggression towards other animals or people
  • Inability to cope with everyday situations

Veterinarian and cat behaviorist options

cWhen seeking professional help, there are two primary options: consulting a veterinarian or a certified cat behaviorist. Here’s what you can expect during a consultation:

  • Veterinarian: A vet will first rule out any underlying medical issues that could be contributing to your cat’s anxiety. They may also recommend prescription medication or specific supplements to help manage your cat’s symptoms.
  • Cat behaviorist: A certified cat behaviorist specializes in understanding and modifying feline behavior. They can work with you and your cat to develop a tailored plan to address the root causes of anxiety, teaching you strategies to help your cat feel more relaxed and secure.

Preventing future anxiety episodes

A crucial aspect of managing your cat’s anxiety is preventing future episodes. By working with a professional, you’ll gain valuable insights into your cat’s unique needs and triggers, allowing you to develop a long-term plan to minimize anxiety and promote a happier, healthier life for your furry companion.


In conclusion, helping your anxious cat feel more at ease requires a multi-faceted approach that encompasses understanding the signs of anxiety, identifying common triggers, creating a safe and comfortable environment, implementing anxiety-reducing techniques, using treatments and supplements when necessary, and seeking professional help when needed. With patience, persistence, and love, you can help your feline friend overcome anxiety and live a more relaxed, content life.

Remember that every cat is different, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. The key is to be patient and observant, always striving to understand your cat’s unique needs and preferences.

We hope you found this guide helpful in your quest to calm your anxious cat. If you’re interested in more tips and tricks for cat care, be sure to check out our article on how to calm down a hyper cat and other articles on our blog. Together, let’s make the world a happier place, one purr at a time.

And don’t forget to share your experiences and success stories in the comments below – we’d love to hear how you’ve helped your feline friend overcome anxiety!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What helps cats with anxiety at night?

To help anxious cats at night, establish a bedtime routine, create a comfortable sleeping area, engage in interactive play before bedtime, and use calming scents or soothing music to create a relaxing atmosphere. Ensuring your cat has a consistent schedule can also help reduce nighttime anxiety.

How to soothe a stressed cat after moving?

After moving, set up a safe space with familiar items, introduce your cat to the new environment gradually, maintain routines, and use calming scents like pheromones. Provide plenty of hiding spots, be patient, and engage in interactive play to help your cat adjust to their new surroundings.

How to keep a cat calm in a car?

To keep a cat calm in a car, gradually acclimate them to the vehicle through short trips. Use a comfortable carrier, cover it with a blanket, play calming music or white noise, and use calming scents like pheromone sprays. Avoid feeding them right before the trip to prevent motion sickness.

Can catnip help with anxiety?

Catnip can help some cats with anxiety, as it contains nepetalactone, which has a calming effect on many felines. However, not all cats are affected by catnip, and some may even become more agitated. Experiment cautiously and monitor your cat’s response.

Will CBD help cats with anxiety?

CBD may help cats with anxiety, as it interacts with their endocannabinoid system, potentially reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Consult your veterinarian before using CBD products, and choose a high-quality, pet-specific formulation to ensure safety and efficacy.

How common is anxiety in cats?

Anxiety in cats is more common than you might think. Many cats experience some form of stress or anxiety at different points in their lives, ranging from mild to severe. Identifying and addressing the triggers can help keep your feline friend calm and healthy.

Are cats naturally anxious?

Cats are not naturally anxious, but they can be sensitive to changes in their environment or social situations. Certain triggers, such as new people, other pets, or unfamiliar noises, may cause them to feel stressed or anxious. Proper socialization and a stable environment can help reduce anxiety.

Does cat anxiety go away?

Cat anxiety can be managed or reduced with proper care, environmental adjustments, and sometimes medical intervention. Identifying the triggers and providing a safe, comfortable environment, along with using techniques like pheromones or puzzle feeders, can help alleviate your cat’s anxiety.

Do anxious owners make anxious cats?

Anxious owners can inadvertently contribute to their cat’s anxiety. A recent study found a correlation between a cat owner’s personality and their cat’s behavior and well-being. Cats with neurotic owners were more likely to exhibit anxiety and stress-related behaviors.

What cat breeds are prone to anxiety?

While any cat can experience anxiety, certain breeds may be more prone to it due to their unique temperaments. Breeds such as Siamese, Bengal, and Sphynx cats are known for their higher energy levels and sensitivity, which may make them more susceptible to anxiety.

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