Do You Suffer from Separation Anxiety When You Have to Leave Your Cat?

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Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a well-documented psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from those to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment. And while we usually think of separation anxiety in terms of pets being stressed about being separated from their guardians, I think it exists in reverse, too. For most of my adult life, I’ve felt anxious about traveling – and I actually like to travel. I’m not afraid of flying, and I enjoy a change of scenery, whether it’s visiting friends in familiar places, or whether it’s traveling to someplace I’ve never been before.

But traveling means leaving my cats behind – and that’s something I’m never completely comfortable with. And I’m pretty sure that many of you feel the same way.

I have the best cat sitter on the planet. Renée comes to visit Allegra and Ruby twice a day, and she doesn’t just feed them and scoop their litter boxes. She plays with them and gives them plenty of love and attention. She texts me after each visit to let me know how they are. So obviously, there’s absolutely no reason for me to worry about the girls, right? But I still do.

People who don’t understand what it’s like to love a cat may accuse me of having a co-dependent relationship with my cats. And maybe I do. I miss my girls when I’m not home, but more than that, I worry about them being without human company for such long stretches of time in between Renée’s visits, because they’re so used to having me around all day, every day.

I know that they probably sleep most of the day and night when I’m not home. They probably chase each other through the house for a few minutes, and they probably spend some time watching the goings on outside the windows. They probably don’t spend a lot, if any, time worrying about when I’m going to come home.

I’ve learned to cope better with being gone. Knowing that the girls are in such good hands with Renée is a huge help. I try to let go of my need to be in control of the universe, and trust that they will be fine. And I connect with them energetically several times a day, sending them love and letting them know that I’ll be home soon.

I won’t let my separation anxiety stop me from traveling, but I rarely go away for more than three or four days at a time. I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken a real vacation of a week or more, the way I used to before I had cats. And while it sounds tempting at times to do that, I know I’d just be too anxious about being away from my girls to really enjoy it.

So tell me: do you experience separation anxiety when you have to leave your cats? How do you handle it?

 

225 Comments on Do You Suffer from Separation Anxiety When You Have to Leave Your Cat?

  1. Zandra Martin
    September 20, 2019 at 12:53 pm (2 months ago)

    I just switched my cat to a raw diet due to allergies in normal and medicated cat food. I planned a 3 day vacation a month ago not knowing i would have to switch him asap, because he got very sick. He is doing better now but I am so nervous to leave him with my roommate. I paid my roommate to take care of him so I am sure he will, but it makes me nervous leaving my little guy without me.

    Reply
    • Cathi
      September 21, 2019 at 11:02 am (2 months ago)

      Have your roommate text you 2x a day with photos of your kitty and updates. Have your vet on speed dial ready just in case. You can relax knowing you have all the backups ready. You probably aren’t going to need them but good to have all the bases covered. Texted photos help a lot.

      Reply
    • Michael
      September 21, 2019 at 11:53 am (2 months ago)

      I recently bought a wifi camera so I can see my babies when I am away. Helps me

      Reply
  2. Joshu
    September 8, 2019 at 12:49 pm (2 months ago)

    I will be leaving in a few days for a 4-day trip and a helper will make sure my cat is safe and be well taken care of with enough food and water and to clean the litter box as well and as the days pass by toward the trip, I’m getting a little weak and sad of thinking that my cat will be left behind. Me and my cat are best friends, I work from home and we have this bond. I would really love to take her with me but I;m scared that she will be kept in the plane cargo, no way!

    Reply
    • Cathi
      September 21, 2019 at 11:03 am (2 months ago)

      How did your trip go?

      Reply
  3. Angie
    July 8, 2019 at 9:58 pm (4 months ago)

    I will miss my little Bella so much when I’ll go to visit in Israel for two weeks, the country which I came from 4 years ago (I immigrated to Canada). But, then again, even though I know I will miss her like crazy, if I won’t go I might not see my family and friends and the places there that I miss for a long-long time… She’s only 1 year old and loves me so much, that will be the first time I’ll be leaving her for a vacation. And it’s even harder for me and my husband (which came from there as well, so he will visit with me) because we don’t close enough friends and we’ll have to live her in a cat pension for the whole of two weeks. I wish I could go for less time but you don’t visit a country 10 hours flight away for only a few days… And I’m going a year from now, so I must be crazy feeling anxiety already! Does someone has an advise for a new fur-baby mom how to overcome that guilty feeling?…

    Reply
  4. Michael
    May 28, 2019 at 5:21 am (6 months ago)

    Hello everyone,
    for me separation is even harder. I am absolutely unable to go on a holiday even though I am not living alone and the cats would be cared for every day.
    I just cannot go. I went so far as to turn around while boarding the plane.
    There is absolutely nothing I can do about that. I tried so many times, wasted so much money on trips I didn’t take.
    I am so lost at what to do 🙁

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 28, 2019 at 9:48 am (6 months ago)

      That’s pretty extreme separation anxiety, Michael, I can only imagine how hard that must be. Have you considered seeing a counselor to see if he/she could help?

      Reply
      • Michael
        May 28, 2019 at 9:52 am (6 months ago)

        Yes, I am seeing one. Not sure if he can help me. I am sceptical with those things.
        I do hope so however.
        As much as I love my cats, this is not healthy in the long run and I don’t want to start thinking it is their fault at some time in the future.
        Fingers crossed.
        Counselling appointments have such a looooong waiting time though 🙁

        Reply
        • Joanne
          May 28, 2019 at 12:37 pm (6 months ago)

          Oh no Michael, I’m so sorry to hear about this, as well as everyone else’s situation. But I hope everyone can believe their cat/cats will be fine. My husband and I never traveled for over 10+ years because we had 2 dogs and a cat and I would feel so guilty leaving them. Our 2 dogs passed and our tripod kitty was left. We finally did travel for 4 days and he did fine! My brother stayed over, but in the day our kitty was alone and did perfectly fine without anyone. Our cat eventually passed and now we have 3 1-year old cats. We temporarily fostered them at first, but totally failed. We already had a trip planned before adopting them. We assumed they would be back with their foster mom. It was really tough for me, because they were still kittens and not 1 yet. We had my brother come in the morning and the original foster mom coming twice thereafter. I felt so scared and sad because they would be alone at night and I thought they would be lonely. We also set up cameras to see if they were okay and you know what, they were perfectly fine! I cried when I saw them just lying around, playing and finally getting used to my brother and their first foster mom. It is definitely NEVER easy, but please believe and have the confidence they will be okay! And when you return, they will show you that they were completely fine and you were really missed! Stay strong everyone, they adapt better than we do! <3 🙂

          Reply
        • Adri
          November 13, 2019 at 11:38 pm (6 days ago)

          Did you try leaving them with wifi cameras all over the place? I have 3 cats and for me 9s very difficult to leave them too, but kmow9mg that i cam see them whenever I want makrs a huge difference. Why don’t you try that for 8h amd rhen maybe sleep at a friends house for 24h, etc? So yiu knoe yiu sre close enough to go at anytime of somethi g is not right? Rememher the brain is like a muscle that you can train.

          Reply
          • Adri
            November 14, 2019 at 12:08 am (6 days ago)

            Oops. Sorry I sent the other by mistake without correcting it.

            Hi! have you tried leaving them with wifi cameras all over the place? I have 3 cats and for me it’s very difficult to leave them too, but knowing that I can see them whenever I want from my phone makes a huge difference. Why don’t you try that for 8h and then maybe sleep at a friends house for 24h, etc? So you know you are close enough to go home anytime if something is not right? Remember that the brain is like a muscle that you can train. And the reality is that you only need to make sure there’s no way they can get out, they have enough water and food and someone to clean their litter box and if you have more than 1 cat and they get along well, they will be having a great time while you are worrying. Believe me. I have seen them obsessively for hours haha. I would even wake up in the middle of the night to see them (because the cameras have infrared) and they are always fine. As long as you have someone you can call if you see something strange, you and them will be perfectly fine. Enjoy your vacations! The love for our pets should make us happier and better humans not slaves of our fears. In my case, fear is created by my hyperactive mind and not based in reality. All those irrational “What if”s.
            I have left them many times now. The longest was 20 days with a sitter that came once a day. A nightmare for me for the first 5 days but then I saw them having a good time and eating normally, etc so I relaxed and enjoyed my trip.

  5. David
    May 20, 2019 at 7:15 am (6 months ago)

    This article helped a lot.
    I know I am being completely illogical but somehow this doesn’t help.
    Nerina is a Greek rescue cat who was abandoned by her mother at a very early age with a bad eye infection.
    We have a very close bond a despite having ideal care arrangements (a friend who loves the cats and lives in my studio apartment with access to my flat) I still miss her when I go away and I know she misses me.
    She has access to the garden and a brother cat. She will be fine in her own home but still I will miss her.

    Reply
  6. Louise Nash
    May 14, 2019 at 9:33 am (6 months ago)

    I’m the same, I’ve just left to go to the airport for a 2 week holiday, my uncle is looking after our cats while we away and I’m sat in floods of tears right now.

    Reply
    • Cathi
      May 15, 2019 at 11:28 am (6 months ago)

      I know that feeling… sitting in a flood of tears in the airport. I even had security ask me what was wrong. Let us know how it goes. Have your uncle text you if he can daily with photos. That always helps me.

      Reply
    • Alondra
      May 25, 2019 at 4:40 am (6 months ago)

      Me too its ok. Im literally on my way to the airport now and im crying a river. I dont know if imma be okay though.

      Reply
      • Cathi
        November 14, 2019 at 11:50 am (6 days ago)

        How did it go? I’m leaving again this Sunday and already starting to feel the anxiety of leaving my three. AHHH. It doesn’t get easier. I will have my sitter text photos. I need to make my list of three: Best case scenario, worst and probable. Then the breathing… four in, hold four, four out. Surprisingly that helps during the actual trip.

        Reply
  7. Amanda Gildenhar
    April 18, 2019 at 3:42 am (7 months ago)

    I just for the first time left my two cats Harley Quinn and Weasley for an entire week for a vacation with my husband. They were taken care of by my best friend who they know well and appreciate. I cried many times especially at night missing my cats and it honestly ruins my vacations to an extent and I just miss my cats so much and feel so badly for leaving them. We stick together like glue! I’m relieved I’m not the only one who feels this way, but I’m starting to wonder if I’ll be able to ever go to Europe or even hell Texas without missing my everythings the entire time…

    Reply
    • Cathi
      May 15, 2019 at 11:29 am (6 months ago)

      Amanda, how were your cats when you got back?

      Reply
  8. Carolyn
    April 7, 2019 at 7:09 pm (8 months ago)

    One of my cats was injured in a car accident and i nursed him tube feeding him every fours hours. He was always clingy but became more so especially as now he is blind. I did all the tricks that sas recomends and he will now settle if im away. Unfortunately my separation anxiety from him and his brother hasn’t! X

    Reply
  9. Bells
    March 22, 2019 at 5:50 pm (8 months ago)

    Omg I am so glad that when I put into goggle that I’m anxious to leave my cats when I travel, that there were people who felt the same way! I’ve asked my friends whether they get anxious and miss their cats when they travel and they kind of look at me like I am a little crazy! Thank you for actually posting this it made me feel so much better. I am the proud mummy of 6 rescued kitties who are always used to me being around as I work from home! But I am actually due to go on holiday in a month (only for three days) and I get so emotional thinking will it distress them that it sometimes makes me think is traveling worth it. But like yourself I love travelling and luckily my mum is staying with my babies until I return. Thank you for posting this it has really helped.

    Reply
    • Judy
      September 1, 2019 at 12:53 pm (3 months ago)

      I only have one kitty and right before I leave I’m a nervous wreck. I have a good sitter. I had two cameras to watch him and one stopped working so I’m kinda a mess this trip and I’ll be gone 10 days. I know he will be okay but I look forward to getting home. I’m so glad to see others are like this and I’m not crazy

      Reply
  10. Jessika
    February 7, 2019 at 3:22 pm (10 months ago)

    Hi,

    This article was so helpful. My husband and I adopted a cat about 6 months ago and she was unfortunately abused before we got her. Since she has had some unfortunate experiences, she is very reluctant with new people. Since adopting her she has come out of her shell and feels more confident. (I did so much research and tried my best to socialize her in ways that she enjoyed, and most importantly on her time.) She absolutely loves me and my husband and has a bit of separation anxiety if we are gone for too long during the day. We both work full time but I manage to come home during the lunch hour so she can have some interaction…

    Okay enough background 🙂 We dearly love our Ivy and we are thinking about going on vacation soon and obviously this brings me a bit of anxiety because 1. I’m going to miss her and I want her to be happy 2. I don’t want her to be lonely or sad. Thankfully, my mom will watch over her a couple times a day to give her food/water and ensure that she can have some attention and play time. I hate feeling guilty to leave her but I just do. Do you have any other tips when you have gone on vacation to keep a cat that has a bit of separation anxiety happy?

    Thank you again for this wonderful article!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 8, 2019 at 6:43 am (10 months ago)

      Would it be an option to have your mom stay at your house while you’re gone?

      Reply
  11. Cathi
    January 30, 2019 at 1:11 pm (10 months ago)

    I’ve been following the story of Aslan and all your kitties. So glad they are OK. Let us know what we can do to help.

    Reply
    • Hana
      July 14, 2019 at 5:34 am (4 months ago)

      I know that I have been late to update. One of the reasons is I forget the name of this website so I cannot post the comment but now I found it again and I happy to read all the stories in here. I will update about my cat Aslan and all my kitties from time to time.

      Reply

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