While cats are generally very independent and require little care when left alone, there's always the chance you may need to board them when you're gone for an extended period. Unfortunately, cats may suffer from separation anxiety or aggression towards handlers or other cats when boarded. Here's what you need to know about how to treat these behaviors.
Dealing With Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is caused by a wide range of problems, chief among them being separation from their owner. This is especially true if you and your cat have formed a real bond. Your cat could struggle to be left without you and may suffer from severe anxiety. This anxiety can cause a variety of problematic symptoms when they are placed in a boarding center, including:
- Excessive grooming
- Voiding outside of their litter box
Calm your cat's separation anxiety by desensitizing them to the idea of being without you and utilizing these simple tactics:
- Playing with them at the boarding center to make it seem more "fun"
- Integrating boarding center members into play and care activities when at the center
- Pack a favorite treat to send to the center that will remind them of home
Eliminating Aggressive Behaviors
When placed in the new environment of a boarding center, your cat may show aggression directed at handlers or other cats. This aggression comes in several different categories, including aggression during play and over-stimulation caused by excessive petting. Those two behaviors are relatively easily handled by avoiding excessive playing and petting.
Territorial aggression will be more problematic. If your cat is excessively territorial, it will try to claim the boarding center as its own personal territory. As a result, it may lash out at handlers and other cats to defend against what it considers to be aggressive invaders.
If your cat shows territorial aggression while at the boarding center, you need to give your boarding center permission to use distraction tactics. These tactics are designed to break the cat's concentration and let them vent their aggression in a safer manner. Some common distraction tactics include:
- Loud hissing to imitate a mother cat
- Giving the aggressive cat a fluffy toy on which it can vent its anger
- Use a whistle or a "tweeting" bird toy to capture the cat's imagination
You can also integrate these tactics in your home if you see your cat acting territorial or aggressive with other pets or members of your family. This will help break their behaviors and make them easier to board. For more information, check with places like the Academy Of Canine Behavior.