7 Natural Ways to Ease Cat Anxiety

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

If there’s one thing any cat owner wants to avoid, it’s a stressed out cat.

Whether it’s a trip to the vet, moving to a new home, or too much noise, stress can result in a number of unsettling (and unwanted) feline behaviors. Hiding, excessive grooming, not eating, and aggressive actions such as hissing,  growling, and even biting are just some of the classic symptoms of cat anxiety.

And then there’s the number one behavioral issue that veterinarians see in stressed cats – peeing outside the litterbox.

But the stress doesn’t stop there. These behaviors also tend to cause anxiety for cat parents, who just want to know how they can help their pets relax, without resorting to Kitty Prozac.

If the situation is litterbox related, and you’re a multiple cat household, the solution may be as easy as getting more litterboxes. Other behaviors may pose more of a challenge. Getting a cat to calm down is often easier said than done—but with a little trial and error, and a healthy dose of patience, it can be done. Here are a few natural approaches to cat anxiety relief that I recommend trying:

Calming Pet Treats

One of the most popular choices for reducing cat anxiety and nervous behavior is through calming pet treats with targeted nutrients that support healthy brain and nervous system function.

Used daily or in times of stress—they’re safe either way—calming pet treats are considered one of the best natural cat anxiety remedies on the market today, for a variety of reasons.

For starters, they come in flavors cats like, including chicken and turkey. They’re also easy for cats to digest, and they’re made with ingredients that have been shown to help reduce feline stress.

One of those ingredients is L-theanine, a supplement used to reduce anxious feelings in both humans and animals. Another is the Colostrum Calming Complex Biopeptide Blend, or C3 Blend. It’s a specially filtered mixture of proteins and fatty acids from bovine colostrum that helps promote calm and lower the amount of anxious and excessive brain activity in your cat. You’ll find it in all chews that actually work. If using calming pet chews as treats, be sure to stay in line with recommended dosages on the product label.

Pheromone Sprays

These products are created in a lab to mimic the pheromones naturally produced by cats, which trigger the cat’s body to relax.

You can use them in diffusers that you plug into a standard wall outlet, or you can spray them directly onto a cat’s bed or other object they come into contact with. Some pheromone products claim success rates of over 90 percent, but it’s difficult to verify those numbers because the studies are often conducted by the manufacturers themselves. Still, many cat owners use pheromone sprays regularly and say they do lessen anxiety-related behavior.


This may come as a bit of a surprise, since most of us tend to think of catnip as a stimulant, not a relaxant.

While it’s true that many cats respond to catnip by getting high and going crazy, that effect is usually short-lived. What we don’t notice is how quickly most cats settle down for a recovery nap when the high wears off.

You can use that natural exhaustion to your advantage if you know you have to do something with your cat that it finds stressful—like getting into its carrier for a trip or visiting the vet. Just give your cat a dose of catnip about 15 to 30 minutes before you need kitty to calm down. They’ll end up naturally running off a lot of the energy they would use to fight against the stressful experience.

Even if you’re not planning to go anywhere with your cat, a little catnip can help take the edge off of stressful events like parties, home repairs, or anything that temporarily upsets their environment or involves having extra people in their territory.

Pretty much any dried form of catnip will do – as always, I advise opting for organic varieties when you can find them. However, if your anxious cat is also prone to having a nervous or sensitive tummy, you’ll probably want to keep the nip in a small pouch or toy, to avoid any nausea or vomiting that may come from eating the herb.


Another calming option for your cat is earthing (also called “grounding”). I’m a huge believer in earthing as a way to reduce the effects of stress in people, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t also work for kitty.

Earthing is the simple process of reconnecting the body with the natural energy in the ground beneath our feet. Even though we don’t feel it, the Earth emits an electrical charge that, when transferred through the skin, helps balance the autonomic nervous system (our “stress center”). All you have to do is be in direct contact with a naturally conductive surface—soil, water, sand, or stone—for at least 20–30 minutes. (Barefoot is best.)

If your cat spends time outside, earthing is a natural part of its day. If your feline is indoors only, Earthing is still possible—if you can get them to sit or sleep on a grounding pad or sheet.

Grounding pads and sheets bring the Earth’s energy indoors through the ground port of any three-pronged power outlet. The trick will be getting your cat onto it, since anxious cats are often wary of new things.

The first thing I would try is using the pad or sheet yourself, so it absorbs your scent. This should make it more attractive and less threatening to your cat. Who knows—maybe your cat will join you for some cuddle time!

A couple other tricks include sprinkling some catnip on the pad or sheet or placing your cat’s food bowl in the center, so your cat is grounded while it eats. If you’ve got any more tips on this, be sure to post in the comments section below! 

Safe Spaces

Few things are more stressful to your cat than feeling like they can’t get away from a threat—whether it’s the dog, the vacuum, or other people in your home. Energetic toddlers, in particular, tend to scare cats into hiding.

You can reduce your cat’s anxiety by making sure that it has places to go that are out of the path of activity, and where your cat can keep track of what’s going on but still feel protected. This is why a lot of cats like to sleep on chairs that are tucked under tables and—if they can reach it—the top of the refrigerator.

At the same time, you don’t want your cat to spend its life under your bed, either. Investing in a cat tree (the higher, the better) can help. I’ll admit they take up a good amount of space, but that’s exactly what you’re creating for your stressed-out kitty, right?

Place the cat tree in an out-of-the-way corner or near a window, whichever your cat prefers. Just make sure that when your cat is on the tree, you leave them alone so they come to associate that spot with calm and safety. Alternately, your cat might also appreciate a simple cardboard box to climb into, somewhere away from all the hubbub.

Old-Fashioned TLC

Sometimes the answer to your cat’s anxiety is the same thing that calms you down—the reassuring touch of a loved one.

If your cat is showing signs of anxiety, make time to be with, play with, and pet him or her. Cats may be solitary animals, but they still need interaction with the people they’re attached to. Being ignored or pushed away can exacerbate their feelings of stress.

I’ve always believed in the healing power of love and the “laying on of hands”—not as a substitute for scientific medicine, but as a fortifier of medicine. When I was still in active practice, my patients who had supportive and loving connections always had better outcomes than the ones who didn’t. I believe the flow of loving energy between pet and pet parent through touch can be just as potent—for both parties!

Follow your cat’s lead when it comes to interaction and touch. Some are real cuddlebugs, and others are satisfied with a quick daily ear scratch. You don’t want to overdo it because too much contact can also be stressful. This is about finding the right balance.

So, the next time your cat walks into a room where you are, say hello and ask it what it wants. Then listen intuitively for the answer.

Bach Flower Remedies

A form of vibrational medicine developed by Edward Bach in the early twentieth century, Bach Flower Remedies are flower essence tinctures that you spray or drop under your tongue.

Bach has a Rescue Remedy product specifically designed for dealing with stress which contains 5 different flower essences. I’ve personally used and recommended it for humans, and believe it helps people manage stress. Bach now has a pet Rescue Remedy product available, which can be mixed into your cat’s food or water, or squirted into his or her mouth or lip fold. If getting your cat to consume flower essences proves difficult, you can also rub the essences into your clean hands then stroke your cat’s body and ears, adding a dose of TLC.

Specific, individual flower essences may also be useful for dealing with a newly adopted cat with anxiety. For a cat that has been abused or neglected, for example, some vets recommend a combination of Aspen, Larch, and Star of Bethlehem. Along with gentle but firm training, Chestnut bud and Walnut essences can be useful with animals that bite or nip.

Valerian, Chamomile, and Other Calming Herbs

Many herbs that are popular stress relievers for pet parents are gaining popularity for pets themselves. Before you make that leap, though, talk to your veterinarian about whether the product you’re considering is safe.

In some cases, the oil form of herbs can be toxic—which means essential oils and raw plants are definitely out. Teas and tinctures can also be problematic because the active compounds can be too concentrated. What seems just right for you may be way too much for your feline’s liver to handle. It’s just better to be safe than sorry.

Most of all, be patient with your cat as you try these different options. The last thing you want to do is cause your feline friend even more stress by getting angry and frustrated. Stay open and positive, and you’ll find the anxiety solution that works for your cat.

This “7 Natural Ways to Ease Cat Anxiety” article has been reviewed and approved by Veterinarian Emily Wilkinson, DVM, and was co-written with Emily Parker, who runs the all-things-cats website, Catological.com. Parker’s mission is to help cat parents love their kitties better. She’s had lots of practice walking the talk, as she spends a lot of her time loving and caring for her rescue kitties, Gus and Louis (Gus only has one eye, but he’s very handsome!). She likes to explore her city to find new coffee shops and always hopes to run into an outdoor kitty or two.


© 2018 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.

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  1. Betty Holzwarth

    on December 28, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    I am in a troubling situation and grieving the loss of my husband after 33 yrs of marriage! I have 2 dogs and 2 cats and I feel terrorized by them all since a long distant move 10 mos after my husband died! The one devastating change is the loss the cats have been feeling, Chuck never came home from hospital in another state!

    I just moved here to Md in Oct! I cry everyday over my loss and I yell when the cat s have sprayed everywhere near their litter Box! I have tried everything! I am so depressed I have suicide thoughts! I saw a new doctor, moved here yesterday and she is recommending a grief counselor! And trying to help me with this depression! All pets are being unbearable to live with, especially the cats! Last night after a long day I pull the covers down and see 2 huge pee spots! I did not settledown until 3am this morning then my load ass big younger cat is a talker and fucking woke me up! I am fucking angry over the fact that I am in a battle with pets that are supposed to bring me comfort but have brought me
    Pain and agony! Who the hell wants to wash sheets and clean their messes when it is bedtime and it seems those discoveries of piss, shit, and hair balls is when I am the most exhausted. This is a long story! Many more traumatic happenings but it would take the entire day! I am doing everything right from trying new self cleaning litter boxes, and various other litter boxes I bought from Chewy! I resent that all of this is dumped on me and I can no longer put up with this! My knee is in pain all the time, these pets get treated royalty and I consider thef*&king spoiled rotten, but they are affecting my peace of mind and preventing joy
    What is so sad is Ibased this move on being able to take my cats and dogs! Expensive decision because I have a mortgage again, I have fraud alerts constantly and info was taken during the big Anthem Breach and I am part of that! It is more than difficult keeping up with finances and paying expensive ground rent for this 55+ community! The move was horrible because the movers did not care and ran out of boxes and wrapping ending up leaving some things behind! Broken monitors, etc! There was a good reason I had to move this year from Central Northern PA, had to take the seller of the home to court by myself! I won, but nothing near what my husband and and I spent on hotels and water testing etc , Life has been a nightmare

  2. Alona

    on February 17, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    It sounds like the reason your pets are misbehaving is because they are stressed. It seems like you are overwhelmed and grieving, and so are they. I know this can be difficult because I’ve been caught in a similar cycle. (Too many tragedies and stressors in a short period of time to fully explain here but some of the major issues include: After moving from Maryland to PA, getting divorced because my husband refused to stop committing adultery, finding out he was sexually abusing our 5 year old daughter, then having to fend for myself as a single mother of three kids who were grieving and had developmental delays, behavioral and emotional problems from anxiety [read: constant tantrums, destructive behavior like breaking windows, putting holes in the walls, chewing things, etc.], sensory processing issues [read: sensitivities to touch, sound, light, textures, etc. – meaning many tantrum triggers], digestive problems causing frequent diarrhea and vomiting – this was a daily battle for a while, and severe eczema that led to infections. Meanwhile, my stepdad was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He fought for a year, but didn’t beat it. So, not only did I have minimal help, but was trying to help him and my mom while barely keeping my head above water. I also completed my student teaching practicum during this time, which was a ball of stress in itself. During this time, my ex flip flopped between taking a plea or going to trial (which would mean my daughter and myself having to testify in court). We’re still waiting, three years later, to find out what will happen with the criminal trial. He has been out on bail and the possibility of him retaliating or running off are always looming. On top of that, one of my cousins went missing and was found to have been murdered. I’m only 28, but have always had issues with depression, anxiety, and fatigue (probably from growing up in a family rife with drug and alcohol abuse, even though I avoided it for myself), which made all of this even more difficult. There were other things, but those were the main “biggies”. Not trying to get a pity party, but just wanting you to know, I can relate to going through a lot and trying to deal with animals.

    I have a one year old dog, 3 ferrets, a snake, a fish tank with various things in it, and 7 cats. The caged animals don’t cause much of an issue, but my cats are very stressed from the chaos in the house. Mainly, my youngest cat, who is 3, is an F3 (third generation) hybrid – Savannah. So, she is very high energy and territorial. Despite being spayed, she sprays everywhere she possibly can get to and jumps on the other cats to attack them, which causes everyone to get stressed, then makes her more stressed.

    Finding pee on the bed when you’re about to go to sleep is especially frustrating. Been there, done that. I’ve added extra litter boxes all over the house and stick puppy pee pads to the walls and other places any animals pees. It helps, but it’s financially burdensome. Reducing the stress in the house in general has helped some. I take an ashwaghanda supplement to help with my anxiety, which doesn’t change the circumstances, but at least I can respond more calmly. It helps me sleep too. I know if I can get into a better routine and do a little strength training, that would help some as well.

    I’m trying to find ways to reduce stress for my cats, which is why I was on this page. I’ve tried everything in this article already, but sometimes it’s not enough. I keep hoping for the day my cats stop peeing on things.

  3. Clara

    on May 5, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    Hi ,
    I came upon this site, as I too have a cat that makes my life a living hell( put nicely) There has been moments of peace. My cat is a pee baby. From the moment my son asked me to watch her *for a little while 17 years ago*, she came into my home peeing on everything. She attempted to pee on my bed once. I took her off my bed and said “NO”. She never did try again. She has however , peed everywhere , and on everything else. I know part of that was coming into a multi-cat home. And she displayed that again when I added another cat she hated*now passed on*. However , lately, she is doing it again. I have just 2 cats, my other one I have had for 13 years, there is nothing new going on. She not only is peeing on every available throw rug, she is pooping outside the box now too! I stepped in it today..HORRIBLE( I have 2 large cat boxes, cleaned twice daily, that’s not the issue)
    I wanted to write you and tell you to try Feliway. I did in those horrible peeing times and I guess I’m going back to it. I came upon this website hoping they had come out with something new ( I have also tried Bach’s with no success) . The Feliway did help, and I will tell you I sprayed it like a mad woman, anywhere I saw her sniffing, lingering too long, or walking by, I was so fanatic, I sprayed it. it did help, but again, it was staying on her at all times til finally something kicked in. It’s stress, and I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just old age. And from reading your comment’s, sounds like stress too, not only for you, but your cats. I feel your pain. If you go to your vet, they can put them on Xanax, or Prozac type medications, and this may be my next move too if this doesn’t help me . Good luck everyone. Me too!

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