Charlie was my future wife’s cat of 4 years. Some 6 years back, when we moved in together, Charlie was aloof and avoided me, at least initially. Once she realized I was here to stay, she began accepting me. At first, a bit stand-offish, but slowly accepting me to the point that she would lay on my lap to the dismay of my wife. My work at the time was on the road, with periods of time in the home. We soon noticed that when I was away, Charlie would groom herself excessively, to the point of producing a bald spot on her flank. When I was home, the excessive grooming would stop. On my retirement, the only time we were away was every two months, my wife had to return to the hospital she worked for to do their payroll. We would be off for 2 -3 days every 2 weeks. On our return, we would find that Charlie had vomited all around the home, and on our bed. The reason we know this, once on arrival in the home, we walked in on her vomiting. Whenever we brought out our suitcases to pack for our trip, Charlie would hide out, under the bed, the sofa, or under the dining table to avoid us.
It took some time but Charlie and Bubba became great buddies. The only sign with him was on our return he would not let us out of sight. If you went to the restroom, he had to also be there. He would walk with me, rubbing up against me, to the extent as to nearly trip me.
In doing research, all of these are signs of separation anxiety in cats. Speculation of the cause range from genetic to environmental factors being included. Some say being orphaned or being weaned early may predispose the development of separation anxiety. As this subject gets more study, there could be more info garnered.
Things to do would be subjective. The first thing would be to have the veterinarian do a complete physical to ensure that the behavior is not due to some underlying physical issue. This may involve blood work, urinalysis, thyroid testing, or a blood pressure test.
Some other suggestions include making the time of passing less stressful by making changes in the normal routine. Some experts suggest that for 15 minutes before leaving and upon return home, the operator should dismiss the cat. Leaving a distracting toy can be helpful. Someone suggested hiding yummy treats in a variety of places in the home. A kitty tower with toys attached near a window could help. Sometimes they just enjoy seeing what’s going on outside.
Some experts have stated that in some situations the short-term use of anti-anxiety medications may be needed. You must be aware that these are not labeled specifically for use in cats and should / must be prescribed and monitored by your vet.