August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

It is a common belief that cats are not social. This is not true! Newer studies have shown that some cats crave human social contact just as much as dogs might. The bond between a cat and their caregiver can be very strong, and therefore cats sometimes become upset when left alone. Vocalization or excessive meowing might occur when your cat is confined to a room and cannot get to you. In more severe cases, your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety when left alone.

Separation-related problems can be triggered by some sort of life change. This includes rehoming, a stay at a boarding kennel or vet hospital, or a death of a key family member. A change in routine, such as caregivers on vacation, or caregivers going back to work leading to longer absences, can also trigger such problems.

Symptoms to look for include excessive and/or distressed vocalization and behaviors. It could also include destruction of property or house soiling. To find out for sure what your cat does when you leave the home, set up a webcam or video camera and record your cat when you leave them alone.

Many separation-related problems can be solved with schedule adjustments, more activities for your cat, or a carefully selected feline or canine buddy. A video assessed by a professional will help guide an appropriate treatment plan to improve the welfare of the cat.

This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®.