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Do Kittens Grow Out of Separation Anxiety? Feline Facts & FAQs

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By Nicole Cosgrove

woman playing with kitten

Even though separation anxiety is more commonly discussed in the context of dogs, cats and kittens experience separation anxiety just as frequently. If you suspect your kitten is experiencing separation anxiety, you are likely correct.

With the right training and behavior, your kitten can outgrow separation anxiety. However, if you do not provide your kitten the right training, stimulation, and attention, the kitten may never outgrow this annoying phase.

Read on to learn about separation anxiety in kittens, including what causes it, how to prevent it, and how to treat it in kittens.

Do Kittens Outgrow Separation Anxiety?

Whether or not a kitten outgrows separation anxiety largely depends on you. Although some kittens are more prone to separation anxiety than others, your behavior determines whether the kitten learns to live with separation or continue feeling anxious when it happens.

With the right course of action, it is likely that your kitten will outgrow separation anxiety. So, it’s important to read the rest of this article to learn exactly what you ought to do to help your kitten outgrow it.

Kittens cuddling together
Image Credit: 12222786, Pixabay

Signs of Separation Anxiety in Kittens

One reason why separation anxiety is a more common topic for dog owners is that separation anxiety shows itself in more subtle ways in cats. Some common signs that your cat or kitten is experiencing separation anxiety include:

  • Vocalization
  • Refusal to eat
  • Excessive grooming
  • Going to the bathroom outside of the litter box
  • Follows owners from room-to-room when home

What Causes Separation Anxiety in Kittens?

It’s important to understand some common causes for separation anxiety in kittens. Although many cats act like solitary creatures, all cats need a bit of connection, especially kittens. Because kittens are young and inexperienced, they’re more naturally anxious because they are more likely to die in the wild.

Still, there are causes for severe separation anxiety in kittens. For example, certain breeds are more likely to experience separation anxiety because they are more reliant on human interaction. Siamese and Burmese cats are just two breeds that this applies to.

The kitten’s first few days in the world can lead to separation anxiety as well. If a kitten was weaned or rehomed too early, the kitten often lacks independence and confidence because it did not learn the skills from its mother. Accordingly, the kitten has separation anxiety when left alone.

The separation anxiety can be furthered by your behavior. If you are constantly reassuring your cat or acting clingy around it, it is much more likely to experience separation anxiety when you leave. Similarly, indoor cats that lack stimulation often experience separation anxiety to combat boredom.

European shorthair kitten
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Kittens

Preventing separation anxiety in kittens is the best medicine. If your kitten does not show any signs of anxiety, it’s best to keep that behavior going. Preventing separation anxiety in kittens isn’t too difficult. Here are some things to do for prevention measures:

  • Only get a kitten from a home or area where it has been socialized properly.
  • Do not get a kitten if it is younger than 9 weeks old.
  • Provide your kitten with a lot of toys to play with while you are away, such as cat trees, scratching posts, and toys.
  • Allow your kitten to play outside at times.
  • Provide mental stimulation for your kitten, like treat puzzles or hide and seek.
  • Keep a consistent routine that doesn’t include a big fuss whenever you leave or enter the home.

These tricks aren’t guaranteed to prevent separation anxiety in kittens, but they are likely to work.

How to Treat Separation Anxiety in Kittens

In the case that your kitten is already experiencing separation anxiety, there are some things you can do to reverse the behavior. It’s important to act as quickly as possible as soon as you detect the behavior. Unfortunately, treating separation anxiety can be difficult to cure, especially once the cat has reached adulthood.

  • Create a routine if you have not already. Cats are much more predictable creatures than dogs and thrive in routines.
  • Buy more toys that offer physical and mental stimulation for your cat.
  • Keep the TV or radio on when you leave.
  • Do not make a big deal whenever you leave the home or come back to it.
  • Create your kitten a safe space that it can go to whenever you leave. Most kittens with separation anxiety prefer high points because it gives them better visual access. You can put a cat bed on a cat tree or on some high shelf that they can get to.
  • For severe cases of separation anxiety, you can use some sort of calming supplement. This is a short-term method, but it can keep your kitten calm while you are trying to reverse the behavior. Talk to your vet before selecting any calming supplement to ensure it is healthy for your cat.

If none of the above-mentioned tips work, contact a professional feline behaviorist. The behaviorist will be able to assess your home to see if there are any things you can do differently.

american shorthair kitten
Image Credit: Top Photo Engineer, Shutterstock

Signs Your Kitten’s Separation Anxiety Is Something More Serious

Although uncommon, severe cases of separation anxiety can be other medical conditions in disguise. If your kitten’s separation anxiety seems unrelenting and the cause is difficult to pinpoint, it’s always a good idea to take your kitten to a vet.

Final Thoughts

Separation anxiety in kittens is something that needs to be taken seriously. Although kittens can outgrow it, it can be difficult if you do not act accordingly. So, you need to act quickly to help reverse the behavior. If possible, it’s easier to prevent separation anxiety than to treat it.

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Featued Image Credit: uzhursky, Shutterstock

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