Cat Confidential: 4 amazing lessons about cat anxiety

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cat confidential

Cat Confidential, subtitled ‘The book your cat would want to read’ by Vicky Halls is an amazing compilation of individual, unique cat stories, from which different cat lessons can be learned. Vicky Halls is a wonderful, renowned cat counsellor that has been helping cat owners with different, complicated cat behavioural issues over many years.

Cat Confidential is the best book you can read if you want a deeper understanding of cat behaviour and the way that is linked to a cat’s bond to its human. Cat lovers will love it and will definitely appreciate the cute images of the mentioned cats! As such, here are 4 amazing lessons about cat behaviour that we can learn from Cat Confidential.

Fearful cats and how to identify fear in cats

In the chapter ‘Scaredy Cat’, properly named after the common description of a shy, timid cat that gets spooked by seemingly anything, the nature of naturally (or created by environment) anxious, scared cats and how that can manifest.

Cat Confidential is great in that tips and tricks regarding how you can deal with certain issues are given promptly and clearly. For example, despite many people claiming to know when an animal, specifically a cat, is scared, they miss a lot of subtler hints pointing at that fact. Cats are individuals and they won’t express all ‘symptoms’ at once and there is certainly no precise way for a cat to act when it’s afraid.

However, as a sort of a beginner’s guide, as described in Cat Confidential, here are signs of fear in cats: dilated pupils, rapid respiration, rapid heart rate, tense or rigid body, low crouched body posture, raised fur on the back and tail, sweaty paws, trembling, aggression, escape attempts, hiding, freezing, avoiding and, finally, involuntary elimination (peeing).

Anxious cats and the signs of anxiety

Anxiety is similar to fear, but it’s deeply rooted in the cat’s daily behaviour and can interfere with day-to-day activities. It can simply be the case that a cat is shy and timid, getting anxious from different triggers (new environment, new cats or new pets, strangers, lack of routine etc.) or it might be the case that the cat has an actual anxiety disorder, which is difficult to pinpoint and only a veterinarian can advise you what to do.

However, ‘fear and anxiety manifest themselves in different ways’. Furthermore, it is written that ‘a cat can be anxious for example and it would be impossible to tell by just observing it one particular moment’, with anxieties being often internalized.

As such, once more described in Cat Confidential, here are the signs of anxiety in cats: tense body, lip licking, dilated pupils, hypersensitivity to noise/movement/touch, urine retention, urine spraying, inappropriate urination, over-grooming and change in normal routine or patterns of behaviour.

Ways to help or cope with an anxious cat

Under the same chapter (chapter 2, The Scaredy Cat) of Cat Confidential we find the subtitle named ‘Sudden-onset fear’. After the description of Smokey’s case, some essential tips are given for dealing with an anxious cat and making it as comfortable as possible. Paraphrased, here are some ways of doing that, as described in Cat Confidential.

Firstly, you shouldn’t engage in direct eye contact with an anxious cat. In ‘cat language’ this is a way of challenging the dominance hierarchy and the cat will feel threatened, especially if anxious. Instead, you should encourage the bond between you and the cat – one way to do so is by letting the cat eat out of your hand (in moderation).

Routine is key when it comes to cats, as they love it greatly and prefer it to an unstable, even curious environment.  Environmental changes will appear as a possible threat to the well-being and stability of the cat, rendering it more anxious than normal.

The natural behaviour of hunting should be encouraged, as it gives the cat a confidence boost and it gets distracted by play. As such, less time to worry and more time for playing! There are many cat toys designed for this purpose, including fishing rod toys or moving toy mice.

In case the cat still has anxious spells, it needs to have escape possibilities. You don’t want a trapped, scared cat. Sometimes anxious cats need a hiding place where they can calm down – they shouldn’t be disturbed there.

Lastly, even though this should be obvious for most cat owners, you shouldn’t force a cat to do things or face new things all of the sudden. This is guaranteed to scare even the bravest of cats. An anxious cat would suffer horribly! On top of this, not all cats enjoy getting pet or handled all of the time – if forced to engage in this, a cat can become anxious or fearful.

Flower essences as a way to help highly anxious cats

It goes without saying that as medicine advances, so do veterinarian solutions. Nowadays you might find medical anxiety treatment for cats that have debilitating anxiety disorders and the usage of Prozac may be encouraged. However, in perhaps less severe cases, as described in Cat Confidential, you might use flower essences to soothe anxious cats, if approved by your veterinarian.

Such herbal remedies include the usage of valerian or skullcap.  Of course, these remedies should be mixed with water or spring water in a solution (two drops of each remedy added to a 30 ml container of water), with four drops being given four times a day. Examples of possible remedies include aspen, larch, mimulus, rock rose and walnut.

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