From Scaredy Cat To Purr-Fectly Calm: Dealing With Your Nervous Cat

It can be heartbreaking when your beloved furry friend is unable to cope with everyday stressors.​ Cats, like many of us, can suffer from anxiety and stress, brought on by changes in routine or the introduction of a new pet.​ If your cat is showing signs of anxiety, such as hiding, vocalising, excessive grooming, or elimination outside the litter box, it’s important to take steps to make them feel secure and comfortable in their home.​
Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to help your anxious cat get back to their purr-fectly less anxious self.​ It’s important to be patient and understanding throughout the process.​ Cats don’t respond well to shouting or punishment, so be mindful that any steps you take are done with love and care.​
The best place to start is by giving your pet the opportunity to observe their environment without feeling the need to retreat.​ It’s natural for cats to observe from a safe distance before they fully emerge.​ By slowly blocking off their hiding spots and allowing them to observe without making them feel physically or psychologically trapped, you are more likely to help them feel secure.​
Introducing natural calming remedies, such as Feliway, can also help soothe an anxious cat.​ Feliway is a liquid or spray that mimics the natural calming smell of a cat, and can be used to spray directly onto where your cat spends time.​ A few drops of lavender oil on the bedding, or herbal sprays such as Anxiety Ease or Comfort Zone can also be helpful in calming your cat.​
Keeping your cat’s routine as consistent as possible is also important.​ Cats feel safe when their lifestyle is predictable.​ Feed them at the same time each day and provide enrichment activities that are similar each day.​ Additionally, providing a safe space for your cat to retreat to can be useful.​ A comfortable bed in the corner of a room or high-backed chair can be the perfect place for your cat to catch a few winks!
Making sure your cat has enough mental stimulation is also essential.​ It helps to reduce overall stress levels, and tire out those reserves of energy which can build up during anxious episodes.​ Set aside about 15 minutes a day for your cat; whether it’s time spent playing with a favourite toy, or a grooming session.​
Regular, pleasurable interactions with your cat will boost their confidence and help them feel more at ease in their environment.​ Show them your love and affection through gentle pats and brush strokes, and offer treats as an incentive for positive behaviour.​

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Encouraging Good Habits

It’s important to encourage good habits in cats, and to take steps to disrupt any bad behaviour.​ If your cat is using inappropriate areas as elimination sites, clap your hands and say ‘No’ when you see them about to perform the action.​ Then offer them the litter tray.​ When they use it, provide them with a reward, such as a small treat or head rubs.​
You can utilise types of cat deterrents if they are scratching certain furniture or fabrics.​ Phase two strategies should involve positive reinforcement; rewarding them with an appropriate amount of play, toys, food, or treats when they use their scratching posts.​
Remember that it may take time for your anxious cat to feel relaxed and safe in its environment, but with patience, kindness, and lots of love, you can help them become the happiest, least-anxious feline in town!

Creating A Safe Space

Creating a safe space can be beneficial for any nervous cat.​ Cats have a desire for privacy and to feel both psychologically and physically secure.​ Consider giving your cat a space that is solely theirs.​ This could be a quiet room or closet, with bedding, scratching post, litter tray, and food and water bowls.​
You can use noise-dampening materials if necessary.​ Feliway multi-cat, as well as other natural calming remedies, can also be used in this space.​ Place the diffuser near the cat’s bedding or favourite spot and allow the cat to observe the space over time.​ This can help them to feel less exposed and more comfortable.​
It’s also important to make sure your cat has plenty of vertical space, so they can observe their environment from a higher viewpoint without the fear of being attacked.​ This could be a cat tree or regular shelves.​ This is an especially important tip if your cat is old, or has an declined sense of smell, as cats rely heavily on the sense to determine their surroundings.​

Affection and Kindness

Even if you´ve been unsuccessfully trying out all of the above techniques, one thing is for certain; cats respond well when they’re met with kindness and gentle affection.​ After all, talk about a purr-fectly warm welcome!
Showing affection is one of the most important ways to help your anxious cat feel comfortable in their environment.​ You can offer treats and rewards, as well as engaging playtime.​
Although cats may not seem the most cuddly and friendly of pets, some cats absolutely LOVE being around their humans.​

Nervous Cat
It allows them to bond with you which in turn helps them feel secure and safe in their environment.​ You are their protector and confidant, so it’s important to respect their space and take things slowly; there’s no need to rush things!

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Remain Calm Yourself

Finally, it’s important not to forget that cats can pick up on your stress and anxiety, so it’s best to remain calm yourself.​ The last thing you want is for your pet to become anxious because of your own anxiety.​
If your cat’s anxiety levels become too much to manage, it may be useful to seek professional help from a vet or pet behaviourist.​ Trying to diagnose an anxious cat on your own can be a daunting task, so it’s always best to seek professional help if possible.​

Pheromones

Pheromones are naturally produced chemicals released by cats which can influence their behaviour.​ A common pheromone in cats is Feliway, which is known for its calming effects.​
Feliway mimics the natural pheromones that cats release during the mating process.​ This helps the cats feel secure, calm, and safe in their environment.​ You can buy Feliway in pet stores, and it comes in the form of a spray, a diffuser, or wipes.​ Simply spray the spray in your cat’s favourite napping spots and/or places they tend to use the litter box.​
You can also use holistic remedies, such as Bach flower remedies, products with catnip, chamomile, lemon balm and lavender essential oils, as a mild aid to help cats relax.​ This should be done with the guidance of a veterinarian.​

Neutral Territory

It’s also important to provide a neutral area that your cat can use if it senses a threat.​ Cats are instinctively territorial, so it’s important they have a place where they can retreat that doesn’t belong to anyone else.​ It’s best to make sure this spot is not too close to other pet’s food or water bowls.​ This will help your cat develop trust in its environment, and feel safe and secure.​
Finally, it’s important to remember that your cat is built to react to changes in its environment.​ Cats are great at hiding their stress from us, so it’s important to remain patient and understanding.​ It can take some time to identify the cause of your cat’s anxiety, but with patience, your scaredy cat can become your purr-fectly calm and content companion.​

Multicat Households

If you have multiple cats, it’s essential to assess their individual needs.​ Establishing individual routines and providing enough vertical space will help create a sense of security in multicat households.​
It is also important to acknowledge any changes which could be contributing to the anxiety; you may need to create a stable routine which involves regular playtime with each cat individually.​ That way, each cat can feel comfortable and safe in their environment, without the stress of having to compete for attention.​ Toys such as laser pointers, wands, and climbing trees are great for encouraging healthy play between cats.​
Additionally, diffusers with the pheromone Feliway can be a great way to reduce stress levels when introducing a new cat to your home.​ Diffusing Feliway may not be enough on its own if the cats are displaying aggressive behaviour, however, so if this is the case, always seek professional pet behavioural advice available from vets and pet behaviourists.​

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Playing Safe At Home

Things can get pretty dangerous when a scaredy cat is on the hunt for safety in their home.​ Make sure that the areas where your cat feels safe are free of dangers.​
Check every room and make sure to place medication, toxic chemicals, and electro cords out of reach of your nervous cat.​ Cover up electrical outlets, and make sure that your cat doesn’t become trapped in any spaces.​
Create an escape route in each room and make sure that there are no objects blocking their path.​ Make sure that windows are secure, and that ledges are safe, as cats may be tempted to jump on the sill for a better view of the outdoors.​
It’s also important to make sure there are no sources of stress in the environment which may trigger fear in your cat.​ This could include anything from loud noises to children’s toys.​ Providing a clutter-free environment can help your cat feel more in control of their space.​
Overall, ensuring that your cat has enough mental stimulation – both through playtime and enrichment activities – is key to helping your cat feel calm and secure.​

Giving Your Cat Space

Sometimes, cats need a breather and a little bit of alone time to recuperate.​ Make sure that your cat has plenty of space to relax and retreat away from other family members.​ Encouraging cats to have their own special space, away from house guests or other pets, can help your cat feel secure.​
Finally, when it comes to dealing with your cat’s anxiety, remember that it’s important to be aware of their needs.​ Cats can hide away their nervousness, so it’s important to take steps to alleviate their anxiety before it reaches the tipping point.​ With patience, kindness, and a healthy dose of love, you can help your cat become the least-anxious feline in town!

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