The Guide to Managing Anxiety in Cats


Ru Chen

- Updated March 14, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Cats get anxious about environmental stressors, poor diet, or sickness
  • Vets need to rule out physical illnesses
  • Create a safe environment and establish a predictable routine
  • Consider anxiety supplements, calming pheromones, and medications
  • Pet insurance can cover anti-anxiety medication for cats
The Guide to Managing Anxiety in Cats

Even though pet cats don’t need to worry about wild predators attacking them every day, they can still be vulnerable to anxiety and stress. Cats thrive on routine and affection. Breaks in routine or insecure environments can cause your feline friend to show symptoms of anxiety. Sick cats can also appear more stressed and hostile.

Familiarizing yourself with how to manage cat anxiety can help you create a more comfortable home for your cat. Let’s dive into everything you should know about managing anxiety in cats.

Identifying Anxiety in Cats

The first step to dealing with your cat’s anxiety is to identify it. Anxiety can manifest as behavioral and physical symptoms. Here are the most common symptoms of anxiety in cats.

Behavioral signs

  • Hiding or crouching defensively
  • Excessive grooming
  • Sudden aggressive, destructive behavior
  • Vomiting/loss of appetite
  • Pooping or peeing outside the litter box

Physical signs

  • Rapid breathing
  • Growling, hissing, and yowling
  • Dilated pupils
  • Ears flattened against the head
  • Trembling or shaking

Triggers of anxiety

Stressors and other situations can trigger anxiety in cats. Here are some common triggers of anxiety.

Changes in environment: Cats can feel anxious if their sense of familiarity is broken. New pets, furniture, and houses can trigger anxiety.

Changes in routine: Changes to a cat’s daily lifestyle can cause stress and anxiety. For example, a new litter box, feeding routine, or playtime can make a cat unnerved.

Loud noises: Fireworks, construction, thunderstorms, and other loud noises can startle a cat, triggering fear and anxiety.

Medical issues: Pain, illness, and injuries can result in discomfort and anxiety in cats. If you notice unusual behavior or symptoms in your cat, take your cat to the vet to rule out any medical issues that could be the root cause. Poison, infections, and age-related conditions can cause behavioral symptoms and anxiety in cats.


Environmental Modifications

Creating a stable and soothing environment for your cat can help them feel more at ease. Here are some changes you can make to your home to help your feline companion feel less anxious.

Make a safe space

An effective modification to make to your home is to create a space designated for the safety and comfort of your cat. This generally means a space that is secluded, quiet, and cozy. This could mean purchasing a fluffy cat bed or a cat condo that lets your cat rest. It’s important to create a safe space that aligns with your cat’s personality and needs. Ideally, the space should be easily accessible to your cat and away from high-traffic places in your home.

Provide mental stimulation

Toys and puzzles are a great way to mentally stimulate your cat. Not only does playing with your cat keep them entertained, but it is also a key way to reduce anxiety in your cat. If your cat has gotten bored of your current toys, it might be a good time to buy new toys and create a rotation schedule to encourage exploration and mitigate boredom.

Establish routine

Like other pets, cats benefit from a routine. For example, an essential step of training a cat is to determine a consistent feeding time every day. Playing, eating, and interacting at the same time each day can help your cat feel more comfortable and secure in their environment. If you deviate from the routine abruptly, it can trigger feelings of fear and anxiety in your cat.

Of course, not all changes can be rectified or controlled, so it is understandable if pet owners cannot reinstate a routine. Try your best to create a sense of constancy in your daily lives, even if it is something as simple as petting your cat at the same time every day.


Behavioral Techniques

Positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is an effective type of cat training. Essentially, the training encourages desired behaviors, such as clawing a scratching post or using a litter box. These preferred behaviors replace undesired behaviors, such as destroying your furniture. Since most cats are motivated by food, treats can be a good way to encourage cats to repeat desired behaviors.

However, if your cat is feeling anxious, it can be difficult to reward them due to lost appetite or restricted diets. In this case, you may be able to reinforce good behavior by using extra affection as a reward. For example, if your anxious cat displays the desired behavior, you can grant them an interactive play session with their favorite toy.

Note that when it comes to cats, positive punishment is not effective. Yelling and hitting a cat in order to encourage or discourage a behavior can result in increased levels of stress, fear, and anxiety. Because of this, it is always recommended to use positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior) as opposed to punishment (punishing bad behavior).

Interactive playtime

Playtime provides important mental stimulation and companionship for cats. If your cat is stressed even when there are no clear stressors present, the increased level of vigilance can hurt your cat in the long run, causing chronic conditions. Playing with your cat and showering them with affection can help calm them and soothe their nerves. Regular play sessions can be a good strategy to alleviate the stress of a cat experiencing anxiety. After all, routine play helps show your cat that everything is fine and safe.

Calming pheromones

Pheromones are released by glands all over a cat’s body. Synthetic pheromones have been shown to help calm cats down, evoking a sense of comfort and safety.

Some pet owners might want to use cat-appeasing pheromone products to help their cats calm down. Diffusers and sprays can help create a calming atmosphere that lets cats feel more at ease. Common anti-anxiety pheromone products cat owners should know about include:

  • Pheromone collars for cats: These can be good for anxious cats who like to roam outdoors.

  • Cat calming spray: Sprays are easy to carry around, making them better choices for cats traveling. Avoid spraying the pheromone product directly on a cat.

  • Pheromone diffusers: A diffuser can disperse calming pheromones around the home, making them good choices for cats who are struggling with anxiety even when at home.

Dietary Considerations

Diet plays a vital role in the overall health of a cat. It can also have effects on a cat’s level of stress and anxiety, as well as physical health. Checking in with your vet about a healthy diet for your cat is highly recommended if your cat is displaying odd behavior or symptoms of anxiety. If your cat is refusing to eat and has a low appetite, this may be a sign of physical illness or anxiety, and diagnostic tests are required to accurately diagnose your cat’s condition.

Importance of balanced nutrition

A balanced diet helps support the emotional and physical health of cats. Just like humans, cats thrive with essential nutrients and a balanced diet, such as proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. If your cat’s diet is lacking or excessive in any way, it could result in an imbalance that exacerbates feelings of anxiety and stress in your cat.


In some cases, veterinarians may recommend cat supplements for anxiety management. These calming supplements can have a soothing effect on cats who are faced with stressors in their lives. Calming supplements for cats usually include the following ingredients:

  • Amino acids (GABA, L-tryptophan, etc.)
  • Proteins
  • Vitamin B
  • Herbal plants

It is important to note that supplements cannot replace a balanced diet. If you plan on giving your cat a supplement, make sure to consult with a veterinarian to ensure that the supplements can properly and safely be consumed by your cat.


Veterinary Intervention

Consultation with a veterinarian

Every cat has their own needs and challenges. Veterinarians can help you see patterns and issues in your cat’s behavior. It is a good idea to go to a veterinarian with your cat’s changes in behavior and displays of anxiety. Vets are licensed experts when it comes to dealing with feline needs and health conditions. A veterinarian can work closely with you to observe and treat your cat’s anxiety.

Another critical reason to consult with a veterinarian about your cat is that sometimes, physical health issues can show up as symptoms of anxiety. Health conditions can be painful and even lethal for cats, so vets need to ask questions and run tests to diagnose the cause of your cat’s distress.

Medication options for severe cases

In some severe cases of cat anxiety, medication may be recommended by a veterinarian. Your vet can prescribe medications to your cat that can enable your cat to live a happier, lower-stress life.

Regular follow-ups

Whether your cat’s anxiety seems to get better, worsen, or stay the same, it is critical to keep monitoring their symptoms. Regularly visit the vet, who can provide valuable ongoing support, expert treatment options, and guidance. A good treatment plan should be adjusted over time to adapt to your cat’s needs and reactions.

Pet Insurance for Anxiety Medication

Understanding the need for pet insurance

Pet insurance helps offset the high costs of veterinary and pet services. Cat insurance costs around $32 a month, which is around half the price of dog insurance.

Comprehensive pet insurance, also known as accident and illness coverage, may be able to cover the expenses for anxiety medications for your cat. As long as the medication is prescribed by a licensed vet and is not classified as a pre-existing condition, comprehensive pet insurance typically covers both one-time anxiety medication as well as monthly prescriptions for ongoing treatment.

A reputable, legitimate pet insurance company can help cat owners save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars throughout the cat’s lifespan. Since cats typically live between 12 to 18 years, pet insurance benefits and reimbursements can add up to a significant amount, allowing you to save money while giving your cat the veterinary attention needed.

Researching pet insurance providers

Finding the right pet insurance policy for your cat’s needs can be tricky, but it is an important step to protect your finances. A reputable pet insurance company can offer you reimbursements and benefits for vet expenses, including treatment for your cat’s illnesses and discomfort.

Check out our expertly reviewed list of top pet insurance providers. Best pet insurance providers include:

Different pet insurance providers will offer their own plans, deductibles, and premiums. Make sure to compare cat insurance plans before committing to any insurer.

Coverage options for medication costs

In general, pet insurance with comprehensive coverage should cover FDA-approved medications. The medication also needs to be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.

If you want a pet insurance plan that covers anxiety medication for cats, it is important to check the provider’s policy details before purchasing. Not all pet insurance policies will cover prescribed anxiety medications for cats.



Anxiety in cats may be managed by taking the following steps:

  • Consult with your vet
  • Create a safe environment
  • Establish routine
  • Implement a balanced diet
  • Consider anxiety supplements, calming pheromones, and medications

Pet owners who are dealing with shifts in their cat’s behavior may want to obtain pet insurance, which is a valuable financial safety net that can cover expensive vet bills and prescribed anxiety medications.

If you ever notice abrupt changes in your cat, it is vital to get your cat to the vet. Regardless of the cause of your cat’s anxiety, a licensed vet can give a clear diagnosis and help devise an individualized treatment plan for your cat. Remember, proactive pet care is often the best way to give your beloved cat the help they need, be it medical attention or behavioral help.

About The Author

Ru Chen

Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about insurance, business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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