How To Know If A Cat Is Stressed
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 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 90,485 times.
Are you stressing over whether or not your cat is stressed? It’s easy to tell when a cat is reacting to a stressful momentit arches its back, flattens its ears, hisses or growls, even urinates on the spot.XResearch source But chronic stress isn’t so easy to pinpoint. If you are wondering if a change in your household has negatively affected the family cat, follow these steps for diagnosing the problem.
Ok So How Can I Tell If I Am Stressed
If you suspect you might be stressed or if you have been told by others that you are stressed, dont ignore it. Take our simple test below to ascertain whether you are stressed or not.
Simply go through the list below and tick, honestly, each bullet point that applies to you.
- You feel less eager to go to work after the weekend
- You are less patient with others
- You often are moody
- You have stomach problems
- Your blood pressure is higher
- You have lost a lot of weight
- You have gained a lot of weight
If you have ticked less than 4, you might just be exhausted rather than stressed.
If you have ticked more than 4, theres a high chance you are stressed.
Now that you know if you are likely to be stressed or not, lets try and find out how much stress youre under.
Is This Quiz Accurate
This stress level test is not meant to be used as a diagnostic tool.
Based on your answers to the questions, youll receive a result that gives you an idea of how stressed you are. But the results wont tell you whether your health is at risk from the stress youre experiencing.
If youre concerned about your stress levels, the physical symptoms of stress, or youd like a health screening, consider seeing a trained medical professional, such as a doctor or mental health professional, for help.
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Understanding Stress Is The Key To Keeping It Under Control
Youre up against a deadline at work. Your kids are fighting as youre trying to finish an assignment. You are stuck in traffic and have dinner in the back seat. On top of all that, your email pingsyoure late to pay your credit card bill. Your heart rate spikes, you start sweating, and your mind begins to race.
If you felt yourself respond to the thought of being in those situations, youre experiencing a reaction to stress. While we all experience stress each day, an unhealthy amount of stress can be dangerous to both our physical and mental health.
When To Seek Professional Help
Many teens arent able to say, Im stressed and this is the reason why. Therefore, their behaviors often signal how theyre feeling.
If you suspect your teen is struggling with stress, start a conversation about it. You may also want to teach your teen some simple stress management techniques.
If your teens stress seems to be interfering with school, family, household responsibilities, or friends, it may be time to seek professional help. Symptoms lasting more than two weeks could be a sign that your teen may have an underlying mental health problem, like depression or anxiety.
Talk to your teens pediatrician if you have concerns about stress. Its important to rule out any physical health issues and to discuss treatment options. A physician may refer your child to counseling.
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Read ‘how To Manage And Reduce Stress’
Stress affects us in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally, and in varying intensities. Research has shown that stress can sometimes be positive. It makes us more alert and helps us perform better in certain situations. However, stress has only been found to be beneficial if it is short-lived. This guide aims to give you tips on how to manage and reduce stress.
Stress affects us in a number of ways, both physically and emotionally, and in varying intensities.
Research has shown that stress can sometimes be positive. It makes us more alert and helps us perform better in certain situations. However, stress has only been found to be beneficial if it is short-lived. Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to illness such as heart disease and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
During situations that make you feel threatened or upset, your body creates a stress response. This can cause a variety of physical symptoms, change the way you behave, and lead you to experience more intense emotions.
People react differently to stress. Some common symptoms of stress include: sleeping problems, sweating, or a change in appetite.
As a result, you may experience headaches, muscle tension, pain, nausea, indigestion and dizziness. You may also breathe more quickly, have palpitations or suffer from various aches and pains. In the long-term, you may be putting yourself at risk from heart attacks and strokes.
When you are feeling stressed, try to take these steps:
Stress Effects On The Body
Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Stress effects on the body.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stressthe bodys way of guarding against injury and pain.
With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress.
Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. For those who develop chronic pain conditions, stress-relieving activities have been shown to improve mood and daily function.
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Youre Perpetually Sick And Just Cant Seem To Get Over It
If it seems like every week youve got a cough, sore throat or a fever, you might want to blame your workload and not just your sneezing coworker. When we are under extreme pressure, our bodies secrete a stress hormone called cortisol that can help us short-term, says Richard Colgan, MD, professor of family and community medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of Advice to the Healer. But if youre stressed out constantly, these hormones arent as helpful and can become depleted over time. Colgan says cortisol and other hormones are components of the immune system that help the body cope with stress. But when these hormones are withdrawn, we become more susceptible to sickness.
And the side effects dont end there. Stress can also slow wound healing, contribute to the reactivation of latent viruses and increase vulnerability to viral infections, says Keri Tuit, clinical psychologist at Yale University.
What to do: Listen to your body when you feel tired or drained. Make time for rest and extra sleep. Whether you recently spent time traveling or finalizing a huge work project, allow your body the time it needs to recover.
A tired body is not well prepared to cope with stressful situations and ward off illness.
When To See Your Gp About Your Stress Levels
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
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How Much Stress Is Too Much
Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, its important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is too much differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with lifes punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.
Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:
Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, lifes pressures dont seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.
Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, its easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your lifethat youre at the mercy of your environment and circumstancesstress is more likely to knock you off course.
Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If youre generally hopeful and optimistic, youll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.
The Link Between Stress Anxiety And Depression
Stress and anxiety are often associated with one another. Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions in which chronic stress is believed to play a role in their development.
Both conditions occur more frequently in individuals who suffer from long-term stress. This makes it especially important to be able to recognize the symptoms of both illnesses.
Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Significant feelings of nervousness, danger, panic, or dread
- A heart rate that rises without a clear cause
- Regular sweating, clammy palms, and cold feet
- A feeling of trembling or muscle twitching
- Significant problems focusing or thinking clearly
- Trouble sleeping at night
There are numerous types of anxiety that present differently in different people. Anyone who is experiencing the above symptoms should discuss them with a licensed health care professional.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in sleep habits, either sleeping significantly more or significantly less than usual
- Significant changes in appetite, either eating significantly more or significantly less
- Major changes in weight that were not intentional
- Major feelings of guilt over something that is not that persons fault
- A significant loss of enjoyment in activities that once brought pleasure
- Increased consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs
- Thoughts of hurting oneself or others
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Breathing And Relaxation Exercises
Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. The playlist below will help you to understand how stress works and start feeling better. These exercises can be done anywhere and are designed to help you feel more relaxed in general, as well as helping you feel calmer if you are becoming stressed.
This playlist is free to download, and you can also stream it using the Soundcloud website or app. You can download and listen to individual tracks if there are particular exercises that work best for you. If you’re listening to it for the first time, it’s best to start from the beginning.
To access a BSL version of this playlist, .
Find out more by checking out these 10 stress busters.
Why Its Important To Know Your Level Of Stress
Caregivers often say Its ok, Im fine, I can handle it. or My friend Joan is in a much more difficult situation. Most of us are in denial about how much stress really affects us.
Theres a story that says if you put a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will jump out immediately. But, if you put the frog in a pot of cold water and slowly raise the temperature, it wont even notice the heat until its cooked.
Many caregivers are like the frog in the story.
To avoid being boiled alive like the frog, its important to be aware of stress levels and how theyre changing over time.
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How Stress Can Make You Feel
If you are stressed, you might feel:
- Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up
- Over-burdened or overwhelmed
- Like your thoughts are racing and you can’t switch off
- Unable to enjoy yourself
- Like you’ve lost your sense of humour
- A sense of dread
- Neglected or lonely
- Existing mental health problems getting worse
Some people who go through severe stress may experience suicidal feelings. This can be very distressing.
If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it’s a mental health emergency.
How Can I Help My Dog Handle Stressful Situations
In order to differentiate stress signs from normal behavior, you must be familiar with your dogs regular demeanor. Then you can tell if he is licking his lips because he is anxious or because he wants a treat.
When relaxed, he will have semi-erect or forward-facing ears, a soft mouth, and round eyes. He will distribute his weight evenly on all four paws. Distinguishing normal behavior from stress signs will help you quickly and effectively diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
“If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor.”
If your dog is stressed, first remove him from the stressor. Find a quiet place for him to regroup. Resist the urge to overly comfort him. If you want to pamper him with petting or treats, make him earn them first by performing an activity . Responding to routine commands distracts the dog and provides a sense of normalcy. It is amazing how comforting sit, down, and heel can be to a worried dog.
If your dog becomes consistently stressed, see your veterinarian. After ensuring that your dogs behavior does not have a medical basis, your veterinarian may refer you to a trainer or veterinary behaviorist to evaluate stress-related issues. They may also prescribe anxiety-reducing medications if appropriate.
|Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Lynn Buzhardt, DVM|
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Your Back Or Neck Is Always Aching
If youve got knots in your shoulders, a stiff neck or your lower back cramped up after a long day, it could be the constant of a job or personal situation, not just the position you sit in during the day. High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms, says Dr. Colgan. And stiff muscles in your neck can also lead to headaches, he says.
If your back pain developed after an accident or emotional trauma, it could also be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder . The National Institute of Health recommends talking to your primary doctor, as many people arent able to heal their back pain until they deal with the emotional stress thats causing it.
What to do: Many relaxation techniques can help with stress reduction, including guided imagery, taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, meditation, massages and yoga, says Tuit. Try devoting time for stretching breaks throughout the day to help prevent muscles from tightening up. Make time for some of these yoga poses to unwind at the end of the day.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Stress
Many daily strategies can help you keep stress at bay:
- Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation. Programs are available online, in smartphone apps, and at many gyms and community centers.
- Take good care of your body each day. Eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep help your body handle stress much better.
- Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life.
- Accept that you cant control everything. Find ways to let go of worry about situations you cannot change.
- Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
- Stay connected with people who keep you calm, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with practical things. A friend, family member or neighbor can become a good listener or share responsibilities so that stress doesnt become overwhelming.
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