Do Cats Really Miss Us When We’re Gone?

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I have two cats; a male and female Maine Coon. Our girl, Emerald, is a complete scaredy cat. She came to us from a Cattery and had been a breeder for her first three years of life. She’s the most affectionate little thing, but we don’t think that she saw much of the Cattery owners as she runs when she first sees someone appear in a room. Needless to say, she doesn’t appear to care overmuch when we come and go.

Then there’s my Charlie Bear. He came to us as a kitten, and is the most dog-like Maine Coon you could ever have. He runs to the front door when he hears a car pull up, he follows us around the house, and he greets us at the door when we return home each day. He is my beautiful little man.

As a Veterinary Nurse of many years, I have seen countless cases of canine separation anxiety. Dogs have been domesticated for so long that they often all but live for their human companions. I taught Puppy Preschool for much of my nursing time and educated many a new dog owner of the do’s and don’t to help minimize the likelihood of their pups developing such a traumatic psychological issue. But what about cats? Do they care when we go? And how do we best deal with their feelings?

The owner of the cat in this video has shown that his cat vocalizes her distress and confusion at his absence. It’s enough to make anyone feel terrible that they have to leave for work each morning! So here are some tips that can help your cat to feel better while you’re away:

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  • Special toys: If there are particular toys that your cat loves, only allow your cat access to them when you’re not there. This can help to lessen the distress by distracting them with something positive that they enjoy. But a highly strung cat can also see these as a pre-cursor to your leaving, and can begin to show signs of stress upon seeing the toys. You know your pet best, so watch them closely, and adjust your routine accordingly.
  • Don’t make a big fuss of your cat just before you leave, and as soon as you get home. By fussing over them and laying on the love, it will only make them feel your absence that much more keenly! Instead, ignore them for 10mins either side of your departure and arrival. This will help to show them that it’s not always exciting and perfect when you’re home, and that it can be just as boring in your presence as it is in your absence!
  • Consider using synthetic pheromone sprays or diffusers. These can help to settle your cat and reduce their stress, making it easier for them to cope while you’re away.
  • Keep your cat guessing. Don’t always only leave to go out for an eight hour day at work – pop out for little trips, too. This will help to keep your cat guessing, and show them that you always come back.
  • Consider another cat as company. Now this doesn’t always work, as there is no guarantee that cats will get along. In addition to this, two cats can mean double trouble. But some cats can enjoy the company, and this can help to reduce, or even alleviate, their loneliness all together.

Do cats miss us when we leave?

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