First Recognise The Signs
1. An unhappy cat will often twitch the end of her tail as a warning sign, just before stress sets in. Her claws may also come out in self-defence.
2. If your cat feels unsafe or threatened, she’s likely to hide and crouch down to make herself seem as small as possible. That way she’ll feel less visible to any potential dangers.
3. A stressed cat may mark her territory by spraying while standing with her tail quivering in the air.
Surprisingly Stressful Things For Cats
Cats are creatures of habit and do not like change, says Dr. Karyn L. Collier, medical director of wellness medicine at Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey. As such, minor changes to your environment that might not bug you could send your cat into a stress spiral.
Here, a few surprising sources of cat stress and how to help your cat relax:
Cat Anxiety: Understanding Your Stressed Cat
You may tease someone for being a “scaredy-cat” or even get a chuckle when something startles your kitty and makes them jump. But a fearful, anxious cat is no joke. Cat anxiety can be a serious problem, especially if left untreated. If you think you might be dealing with a stressed cat, keep reading in order to understand what’s going on with your kitty and how you can help them.
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Can You Hear Me Meow
If your cat is stressed, they will likely announce their frustrations by becoming increasingly vocal. This is their way of telling you, hey, human, something is not okay in their language. Keep watch for this, and this sign of stress might be clearer to spot should your cat naturally be soft-spoken. , then this sign might be naturally dismissed by you as their owner.)
Cat Behaviors That Mean They Are Mad
In general, longer and lower frequency sounds â think of growls and hissing â signal cats want distance and warn of potential aggression, Pankratz says. These contrast with happy sounds, like meows and chirps.
To know if a cat is feeling stressed or threatened, experts say signs to look for include:
- Ears pinned back
- Tail swishing
Eyes can also indicate aggressive or attention-seeking behavior in cats.
âThey will make intense eye contact as either a confrontational gesture or to get your attention,â DeVoss says.
A catâs mood can also shift abruptly from contentment to irritation. For example, if you want to know when to stop petting your cat, pay attention to its tail.
âThe tail will also tell you when they have had enough of your petting it will begin to swish or twitch at the end as a signal that they want you to stop what you are doing and they find it irritating,â DeVoss says.
If you observe these behaviors, the best thing to do is to physically move away from your cat to give them time and space.
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Emotional Stressors In Cats
Most of the environmental changes resulted in emotional stress in cats. One way of understanding this is that environmental changes are the cause and emotional stress the effect. There are other emotional stressors, including:
- Fear. Fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornados are classic examples of fear-resulting stressors. Although many of these environmental stressors cannot be predicted, it is still essential to have a plan for dealing with an emergency before it happens by preparing your cats for disaster. Predictable fear-associated stressors, such as noisy festivities like Halloween, 4th of July, New Year Eve, can be planned for ahead of time. Keep cats confined to an interior room on such occasions, with low lights and soft music playing. Fear also is sometimes exhibited when one cat is being “picked on” by another. A classic example of the factor is the cat that is “trapped” in a closely confined litter box by another cat. The end result, of course, is litter box avoidance. You can help ameliorate this situation by giving the “victim cat” its own uncovered litter box with plenty of opportunities for escape.
You Cat Has A Lot To Say
In general, cats meow to communicate with their humans versus each other. If your feline friend is trying to get your attention with excessive meowing, and you’re not sure what kitty wants, they might be trying to tell you that they’re feeling dark and twisty. “If your cat has become excessively chatty in their meow language then this definitely means they are trying to tell you something,” iHeart Cats explained. “Often this vocalization will sound very troubled, something like a distress call that they need you as they are desperately trying to get your undivided attention.”
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Give Kitty A Fresh Outlook
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Recognising Stress In Cats
It can be worrying if your cat’s behaviour changes, especially if you don’t know why. Behavioural changes in cats can often be down to stress, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs as soon as possible, even when they’re subtle.
Stress can affect your cats quality of life. It may make medical issues worse and it can also cause medical problems, like stress cystitis, which is a painful and potentially dangerous problem for cats. So its important to be able to notice when your cat is showing signs of stress so you can help them.
If your cat has a phobia or something upsets them, you may see obvious signs that theyre feeling stressed. But if your cats stress has built up slowly over time, it can be harder to realise, especially if youre not sure what to look out for.
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Create A Peaceful Mealtime
It starts with feeding a high quality food thats appropriate for your cats age and health. Next, create a peaceful mealtime setting by keeping the feeding station clean and inviting. Use a food bowl thats a comfortable size and shape and doesnt cause your cats whiskers to get squished. Locate the feeding area in a quiet place thats free from sudden noises. Place food and water a little distance apart as many cats dont like water right next to food. In a multicat household, give each cat an individual food bowl because cats arent social eaters. You can discourage one cat from nosing another cat out of the bowl if they each have their own separate dishes. If necessary, feed cats in separate rooms to reduce stress.
Your Cat Won’t Use The Litter Box
If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box and starts peeing in other places in your home, they’re trying to tell you something. Once you’ve ruled out any physical medical problems, like a urinary tract infection, have tried different litters, and added an extra litter box with no success, it’s time to consider that your cat is anxious.
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What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Is Stressed
If you think your cat is stressed, its best to contact your vet for advice. They can check for any medical causes of their symptoms and recommend ways to help them.
Its also a good idea to contact an ABTC certified behaviourist, especially if they seem to be stressed all the time, theyre showing aggressive behaviour or you think the stress is impacting on their quality of life. Find out more about helping an anxious cat.
Cat Stress: Is My Cat Stressed Out
Since cats do so much to help our stress levels, its important to remember that they can get stressed, too.
Some stressful situations can be good for keeping a cat engaged and stimulated allowing your cat to feel new sensations through play and exposure to the outdoors is a positive example of stress. But chronic stress can lead to health issues in your cat.
Watch for the signs of chronic stress, like changes in your cats appetite or sleeping patterns, a drop in energy, or withdrawal. If you see any of these symptoms, check with your veterinarian to eliminate any medical problem.
But if your veterinarian thinks its stress-related, here are some common causes of chronic cat stress, along with ways to help manage your cats anxiety.
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Use Cat Calming Products
We have had great success with our cat Barney by using a Feliway plug-in diffuser which is supposed to have a calming effect on cats. It works by emitting synthetic pheromones, which it is claimed, can help reduce anxiety and stress in cats. The smell mimics a cat’s own pheromones which helps a cat feel safe and secure. You simply plug the diffuser into your plug socket, in much the same way as you would do an air freshener, and forget about it.
I have to confess that this can be a fairly expensive method to employ. Firstly, you need a minimum of one diffuser on each floor, depending upon the size of your home. In addition to purchasing refills on a monthly basis, you will also need to replace the diffusers themselves, typically after six months.
Due to the potential fire hazard, I personally have a problem leaving the diffusers plugged into the mains overnight, or when I am not at home. They do become warm to the touch and I prefer to give them time to cool down. I am sure that the fire risk is extremely low, but this is my preference. I have not experienced any adverse effects from my cats, as a result of doing this and it also makes the refills last a little bit longer.
Of course, there are several other different types of calming products available which may help with your cats anxiety. These include cat calming collars and natural supplements such as Bach Pet Rescue Remedy, vitamin B calming chews and liquids.
A Change In Your Work Life
If you get a new job, change shifts, or start getting home later than usual, your cat could start to pick up on these changes and get nervous. The reason is simplecats like for life to go according to schedule, and any change can trigger stress.
How to help: If possible, ease your cat into your new schedule by making gradual adjustments, or help her ride out the transition process by making sure she has access to a place where she feels safe and lots of playtime when you are home, says Gunn-Moore.
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How The Holiday Season Could Be Stressing Out Your Pet
The holiday season is both fun and magical but it can also be very stressful and when it comes to our pets, they arent free of the stress of the hustle and bustle either. In fact, there are multiple things about the holidays that can end up stressing out your pet. Here are the different ways your pets may experience stress and some ways to help them feel better.
Whats Affecting Your Pet and What You Can Do to Help Them
- Learn to Recognize When Your Pet is Stressed – For your cat, it could look like the following:
- Lack of appetite
2. Stick to Their Routine – The holidays present an interesting conflict in which our time is filled with errands and events. With all of these things pulling us away from our norm, its important that one thing remains the same, that your pets schedule remains the same.
3. Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree – Before humans started domesticating cats and bringing them into their homes, cats enjoyed using trees for hunting. This makes them curious about the tree and can present some new behaviors from them. Heres how to prepare your tree for them.
- Anchor Your Tree
- Block Off the Tree Water
- Avoid Glass and Sharp Objects
4. Create a Chaos-Free Space for Your Cat – Its important that your cat has somewhat of an oasis to escape to when theyre feeling stress. Make sure you create this space for them to enjoy when the anxiety sets in.
What Can I Do To Help Relieve Or Prevent Stress In My Cat
If you can provide care for your cat that respects its needs, both as a species and an individual, you stand the best chance of preventing or reducing chronic stress. Always remember things that stress your cat could be things that you dont find worrying at all.
Cats, being responsible for their own survival, are constantly risk assessing, looking for the presence of threat and danger in every new location or social encounter. They are therefore reassured greatly if their lives consist of familiar routines and a degree of predictability as they know, historically, that these are safe. Being predictable in your behaviour and creating daily routines is a great stress buster.
The number of cats you keep should be considered carefully, particularly if the local area already has a significant resident cat population as this can represent additional pressure.
The number of resources you provide for your cat within the home should always be sufficient to satisfy needs. A good formula to use in order to calculate the appropriate quantity is one per cat plus one extra, positioned in different locations. See our information on making your home cat friendly.
Its unrealistic to expect a life for your cat that has no potential stress triggers but appreciating what those triggers might be and keeping them to a minimum will reduce the likelihood of any problems developing as a result of chronic stress.
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Treatment Of Stress In Cats
Once medical causes for the behavior are ruled out, treatment of stress in cats relies partly on trying to determine its source. Below are some general ways to combat feline stress in your home.
Some cats need anti-anxiety medicine to help them break the stress cycle. These medications do have potential side effects and must be carefully dosed. Your veterinarian can help you determine whether one is necessary for your cat and, if so, prescribe it. Never give your cat any medicine without your veterinarian’s approval. These medications work best when used for a short period of time in conjunction with the modifications described above.
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Eliminating Outside Of The Litter Box
Cats that are stressed often wish to mark their territory it helps them feel better and more secure. If your cat suddenly begins eliminating outside of the litter box, it might be because of stress.
Of course, other things can cause inappropriate elimination in cats, like litter box location aversion, a box that isn’t kept clean enough, or a medical problem. If your cat suddenly begins eliminating outside of the box, have him checked out by a veterinarian consider stress as a cause after medical conditions and litter box issues have been ruled out.
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Cat Stress Symptoms And Relief
Whether you’re getting a new piece of furniture, going on a vacation, or having family over to visit, a little change of scenery can be just what you need. But from your cat’s point of view, these traditionally “fun” activities can bring new stress. And that stress can lead to destructive behaviors as cats try to adjust to the change. Here’s how you can help your cat navigate unexpected changes and deal with all that stress successfully.
Signs That Your Cat Is Stressed
Most of us experience stress and anxiety at times. It certainly isnt fun! Just like us, cats can also feel stressed. Fluffy may not have to worry about her job or paying bills, but she can still suffer from anxiety. Some of the things that make our feline friends nervous include loud noises, strangers, changes in ownership, and moving. New roommates, whether human or animal, can also make kitties uneasy. Your furry pal cant tell you if shes feeling stressed, but her behavior may clue you in. Read on to learn about some of the most common signs of feline stress in this article from Fairfield Animal Hospital, your local Cy-Fair veterinary clinic.
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Cat Behaviors That Mean They Are Stressed
âThe main warning sign that I see for when a cat is not feeling well is hiding and avoiding social interaction,â Hicks says.
If your cat displays these anti-social behaviors, itâs possible theyâre feeling sick or stressed and need to see a veterinarian.
Delgado agrees. âA cat who spends most of their time under the bed is a cat who does not feel safe, and that is a sign that something is amiss,â she says.
But remember that each cat is unique â Itâs important to keep in mind that these are all general guidelines, not hard-and-fast rulebooks to your catâs mind. Each cat is individual, and a sign of happiness in one cat could be a sign of distress in another.
âSome cats will purr when stressed âsay, at the vet’s office â or even when in pain, so it’s hard to say âevery time your cat does X it means Y,ââ Delgado says. âFor example, tail swishing can indicate excitement or agitation, but some cats are just more âswishyâ than others, so that has to be taken into consideration as well.â
Thereâs no cheat sheet for your cat, but if you pay attention to your petâs normal behavior â what they like to do, how much they eat, and their level of play and interaction â youâll generally notice when things are amiss.
âIf you are seeing changes in their typical behaviors, then yes, something is likely amiss,â Delgado says.