What To Do If You Suspect Your Cat Is Stressed
If you have been to the veterinarian to rule out medical causes of your cat’s behaviors and you are left suspecting that your cat is stressed, here are some things you can do:
- Increase interactive play with your cat. Allowing your kitty to exercise his hunter instincts by playing with a wand toy or one that mimics rodent behavior can help him let off steam and feel calmer.
- Give your cat more scratching posts. Scratching helps your cat release stress, so provide good quality scratching posts in prominent areas of the home. Marking his territory this way, in high-traffic areas of the house, will help your cat feel better.
- Consider using Feliway. This product is made to mimic the pheromone that cats produce when they’re feeling calm. When it is diffused or sprayed, cats often feel calmer.
- Be sure you have enough resources available. Cats become stressed when they feel that resources are scarce. This can become an issue, especially, in multi-cat households. Make sure you have enough food and water bowls, cat beds, scratching posts, and clean litter boxes, so your cats don’t have to compete for them.
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Are There Any Other Tips To Reduce My Cats Stress Levels During The Veterinary Visit
Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian, do not feed your cat for several hours before her appointment to reduce the chance for vomiting or letting the bowels or bladder go during the trip.
If you have a kitten, train her to use a cat carrier as a haven early on .
Unlike dogs, who often associate car trips with fun destinations such as the park or trail, few cats go in the car for a pleasant adventure. You can teach your cat to relax in the car by taking short trips that have a positive outcome. For example, put your cat in the carrier, give her one of her favorite treats or toys, and take a short drive that ends up back home. During the entire process, speak to her in a calm and reassuring voice.
For some cats, a Thundershirt®, which swaddles the cat much like swaddling an infant, may reduce anxiety.
One of the most effective ways to decrease your cats anxiety level is to remain calm and relaxed during the visit. Speak to your cat in a calm and soothing voice and reassure her by petting her on her head or stroking her in her favorite spot.
If Your Normally Social Cat Has Begun Hiding Beneath Furniture Or Blankets They Could Be Stressed Out
“Cats are evasive by nature and love to find places to curl up for long cat naps,” said Arndt. “But if your cat is suddenly hiding, it can be a sign that your cat is experiencing stress.”
Arndt advised that providing perches or cat trees can help, as cats often feel more comfortable when they are up high. Allowing your cat to have a safe room in your house where they can go to relax is also a good idea.
“Consider using a baby gate and cutting a small hole in the bottom, just large enough for your cat,” said Arndt. “This lets your cat escape stressors, such as a new pet that has just been brought into the home.”
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Play With Your Cat More
Engage your cat’s mind more frequently. Cats may be stressed if they have too much pent-up energy. Get out a feather wand toy and encourage your cat to chase you around the house. Try clicker training. You can even set up an escape-free, enclosed cat tent outside and take your kitty out there every day to engage her mind more.
Stressed cats can make everyone in the home feel stressed. By finding the source of the stress and helping your cat deal with it in a healthy way, you can leave everyone feeling happier, including your fur baby.
Causes Of Stress/upset In Cats
And while a grumpy kitty every now and then is to be expected , if it happens more often than usual, it might be time to try and get to the bottom of why. Is your cat stressed or maybe unhappy? Here are some causes to consider.
- Environmental changes, such as the introduction of a new household member or change in the physical environment
- A sudden change in daily routine
- A “boring” household environment that doesn’t allow for normal cat behaviors like hunting, scratching and territory “marking”
- Conflicts between cats or other animals caused by the introduction of a new pet into the household
- The loss of another companion pet or owner.
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Surprising Things That Stress Cats Out
A stressed-out cat makes for a stressed-out owner, especially when you cant figure out what exactly is causing your pets anxiety.
Unfortunately, many signs of anxiety in cats only make life harder for you and your pet .
While some cat stressors make perfect sense , others are easy to miss because they simply dont seem like significant sources of stress to pet owners.
If youre wondering whats gotten under your cats skin, read on to learn some of the most unexpected cat stressors you might encounter. Plus, learn how to deal with them to give you and your cat a better life.
Spend Quality Time With Your Cat
Spending some ‘one-on-one’ time, sitting quietly with your cat, can help reassure him. Gently stroking your cat, from head to tail, will also help to relax him. Making a fuss of your cat or rewarding him with a treat, when faced with a stressful situation, can also help change his perception from a negative to a positive outlook.
Also, make sure that your cat is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. As Barney is reluctant to go outside now, I tend to let him out while I potter around in the garden. My presence helps him to build up his confidence and he is beginning to become more independent.
Encourage your cat to play with a variety of cat toys. Neko Flies cat toys are very popular but there are plenty of others to choose from. You should also try and rotate the toys every few days so that your cat does not become bored. You can also purchase cat toys that contain catnip. Just be careful to monitor your cat’s reaction to catnip as it may stimulate aggression in male cats.
Cats love your undivided attention.
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Trained Cats Who Begin To Have Accidents Outside Of The Litter Box May Be Experiencing Stress
“When a cat stops using the litter box or is inconsistent about using the litter box, it can be a sign that your cat is experiencing stress,” Arndt told Insider.
Instead of punishing your cat for having an accident, Arndt suggested making an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any medical problems.
You may also want to try increasing the number of litter boxes in your home or changing their location, since some cats may be uncomfortable sharing a litter box with another cat or using a box placed in a loud area.
What Does Anxiety Look Like In Dogs
Anxious dogs may show behaviour change, such as isolation and withdrawal. Or they may display manic behaviours, such as persistent barking, whining, pacing or even self-trauma, such as excessive grooming. Dogs may also become destructive chewing furniture, or urinating or defaecating inappropriately. Stress can include clinical symptoms such as diarrhoea, reduced appetite, shaking and panting.
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How To Calm Cat Anxiety And Stress
During these worrying times of COVID-19, everyones life is being affected, including your pets. Cats are usually independent creatures so their day to day life should not be overly changed by the current lockdown.
However, it is important to stick to normal routines with your cat as much as possible and be aware that a change in your behaviour can have an impact on your cat. Animal behaviourist Inga MacKellar shares her advice:
We asked animal behaviourist Inga MacKellar for the signs to look out for if your , and how you can help. Here are some tips on using your body language and surroundings to ease your pet’s distress.
Watch Out For Behavioural Problems
It may seem like the encounters are nothing more than a hiss and a spat every time your new dog gets close to puss and you might think in time the two of them will get on. However, you need to keep an eye out for any changes in your cat’s behaviour which could be due to stress. This is typically bought on by the presence of the new canine companion with some cats pulling out their fur in clumps which results in them developing bald patches typically around their back legs and tails. This over-grooming can develop into a real problem which is explained below.
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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.
How Do I Tell If My Cat Is Anxious Or Scared
If your cat is anxious or scared, they are likely to use these basic strategies to help protect themselves:
If your cat is confronted with something they find frightening, their first instinct will most likely be to remove themselves from the situation. Your cat may either turn and run or move very cautiously while keeping their eye on the potential threat. In both cases, your cat will seek out the nearest point of safety, usually either a hiding place or somewhere up high.
In general, if your cat is already fearful or anxious, they are only likely to behave aggressively if their preferred option is not available for example, your cat may feel trapped or that they have limited options in terms of retreating to safety. Alternatively, your cat may have previously learnt that a pre-emptive attack is the best way to protect themselves. In both cases your cat may just growl and hiss but could also swipe or bite.
As an alternative to fight and flight, your cat may freeze when they are either startled by something, or when they do not have the option to retreat to safety. Your cat may also use this strategy to buy time whilst your cat decides what the best course of action to take next is .
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How To Reduce Stress In Cats
This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as Dr. B to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with three locations, South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA accredited hospital and Bostons first Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 290,184 times.
Can I Give My Cat A Sedative Or Anti
If your cats stress or fear is profound, AND she has no health concerns, your veterinarian may recommend giving some sort of prescription medication before the visit. However, most sedatives have side effects, and using them may not be in the best interests of your cat. Please see the handout Medications to Reduce the Stress of Veterinary Visits for Cats for more information.
With regard to complementary medicines, the marketplace is full of products that claim to treat anxiety. While natural products are often thought of as benign, this is not always the case, particularly when it comes to treating cats, who have different metabolic processes than we do. Please speak to your veterinarian for more information.
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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.
What Should I Ask A Vet About Prescription Diets For A Stressed Dog
An initial conversation with a vet should not focus just on the stress of your dog. The vet will want a full understanding of your pets medical background to make sure there are no underlying conditions. They will also want to know about the environment and routines for your dog including what they eat, where they live and their exercise routine. This will give a clear picture of some measures that may be important to reduce stress in order for other treatments and diets to be effective. Diets for stressed dogs are a relatively recent development, and may be useful in helping reduce stress in the long term, if other changes cannot be made to the dogs environment or routine.
Dr. Liz Barton qualified in 2004 from the University of Cambridge. She has a varied career treating all creatures great and small in the Lake District. She did an internship at a specialist centre, emergency night shifts and shelter medicine. Her clinical passion is diagnostics and getting to the bottom of an animals illness, in order to help them get better as soon as possible. Dr. Barton is also passionate about supporting the people in this caring profession, and has written extensively wellbeing and supporting families. She was elected onto the board of the Society of Practicing Veterinary Surgeons in 2019 to co-ordinate the national vet wellbeing awards. She has two dogs and a rescue cat with no tail.
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How To Help A Stressed Out Cat
If your cats behavior changes suddenly in any way, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. He or she can rule out any underlying medical issues as well as make recommendations to help lower your cat’s stress level. Here are some tips for helping to alleviate stress in your cat:
- Play/exercise with your cat regularly Physical activities like a game of “chase the mouse” or “follow the feather” are a great stress reducer for cats.
- Create a safe zone Set apart an area or secret hiding spot in your home for your cat to escape high-stress events like thunderstorms and parties. In a multi-cat household, blocking the line of sight between cats with a solid barrier can be useful, especially when one cat tends to bully or aggravate the other.
- Choose a high quality cat food Your cat’s diet is an integral part of his health and wellbeing. Providing your cat with a diet that is not properly balanced for his or her life stage and lifestyle may cause unforeseen repercussions that may lead to anxiety and stress.
How Do You Treat Severe Anxiety In Dogs
If anxiety is severe and behavioural training and home modifications have not helped, then medication may be needed to suppress anxiety. Some dogs may need this for short periods, such as going into kennels, recovering from surgery or during fireworks season. Other dogs may have to be maintained on medication for prolonged periods. It is best to try to wean them off medication over time, as other anxiety-relieving measures are put in place, since behaviour modifying drugs do have side effects.
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