My wife recently took a job that involves travel, and our 4-year-old tabby seems very nervous while she's gone — he gets clingy and very vocal, and paces around the house until she returns. What can I do to calm him down?
The first thing I would recommend is to add some enrichment to your cat's everyday life. Provide things your cat can explore. They can be as simple as boxes and paper bags of all sizes, and to make them special, you could hide a treat of food inside. Cat toy wands are great, too. If you engage your cat in wand play, follow up with a teaspoon of warm canned cat food, which makes the hunting behavior they exhibit rewarding to them. Be sure both you and your wife participate so that your cat doesn't just associate these things with your wife.
Feeding time can turn into enrichment time, too. Instead of putting dry food in a cat dish and calling it a day, pour some in an empty water bottle, replace the cap, cut holes slightly bigger than the size of the kibble in the bottle, and let your kitty go to town.
Finally, consider adding a second cat as a companion. There are plenty available at local shelters. My last recommendation is to seek a behaviorist.
This week's expert is Dr. Mary Zink, veterinary medical director, Baltimore Humane Society. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org