Friday, March 24, 2023

How To Reduce Stress In Cats

Moving With Outdoor Cats

How to Reduce Stress for Your Cat’s Veterinary Visit

If your cats are mostly outdoor kitties, you need to keep a few additional tips in mind for the big move. Make sure you have up-to-date vaccination tags and have registered their microchips online. Help your outdoor cats get used to a car-safe carrier by leaving it outside for a few days with your cats favorite treats, blankets, or toys inside.

When you get to your new destination, keep your cat indoors for a few days or up to several weeks. Shell be very nervous by all the new sights and sounds, and you dont want her getting scared and running away.

Keep a comfy bed like the Thermo Outdoor Kitty House in your garage or other indoor room with your cat. Youll ultimately move your kitty and the house outside at the same time. Stay outside with your cat at first and bring her back in every night.2 Helping your outdoor kitty adjust to a move can be a long process, but its worth the time to help her stay safe.

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Signs Of Fear In Cats

Similar to dogs, fearful cats are tense and make themselves appear smaller by lowering their heads and leaning back . Signs of stress in cats also includes looking sleepy and exhibiting hypervigilancealthough cats tend to move the direction of their ears rather than their heads. Agitated cats twitch their tails, and may act defensively if scared. Defensive cats appear to become even smaller, might hug a wall if available, move their ears down/back, and may hiss and react aggressively if unable to run away. Some cats appear to look bigger when alarmed and adopt the classic Halloween cat posture of standing on tippy-toes, with a straight tail and arched back . The accompaniment piloerection in reactive cats is a physiologic response to stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, and looking bigger is a secondary consequence of this reflex. The consequences of looking bigger is understudied, but the profile of a reactive cat should and can be recognised by humans and other animals. It is important for veterinary staff to be aware that a cat rolling on to its side when under duress is more likely preparing to defend itself than requesting a belly rub. The AAFP and the ISFM feline-friendly handling guidelines illustrate the progressive signs of fear and anxiety in cats from early to late stages.

The Halloween cat. Tippy-toes, straight tail, arched back. Source: .

More About Stress In Cats

Just like us, cats are equipped to deal with and recover from situations that cause acute stress for example, being chased up a fence by a dog.

Longer-term challenges, however, such as not getting on with another cat in the household, are much tricker for cats to cope with and these can cause chronic stress.

Chronic stress can lead to behavioural and health problems that might even result in cats needing to be rehomed. So, what sort of things can make cats feel stressed? How can you recognize the signs of stress in your cat and what can you do to prevent it?

Some cats are more likely to suffer from stress than others are. Genetic reasons probably contribute to this, but there are certainly environmental causes, too, such as lack of early socialisation.

Acute stress can be brought about by taking your cat away from home, perhaps for a visit to the vet or to stay in a boarding cattery. While a cat who is acutely stressed often appears very upset at the time, the effects shouldnt be long-lived as long as they have time to settle peacefully back home afterwards.

Other pets can make cats worried, too. While many cats and dogs get on well , some cats find the arrival of a new puppy, for instance, difficult to cope with.

Some cats may suffer from chronic stress if they are bored and frustrated by lack of opportunities to fulfil their behavioural needs.

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Audience: Executive Leadership Foster Caregivers Public Shelter/rescue Staff & Volunteers Veterinary Team

Shelters can be very stressful places for cats, leaving them prone to physical and behavioral problems like weight loss, over-grooming, self-trauma, aggression, withdrawal, bladder problems and upper respiratory infections.

In addition to the suffering experienced by the cats, such problems reduce their chances of being adopted quickly, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.

How To Calm A Cat: Tips And Advice

How to Reduce Stress at the Vet

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Petting a cat has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in humans , but what about when our whiskered friends are the ones feeling anxious?

While some cats are laidback and happy to roll with almost anything, others are easily frazzled by all sorts of situations and experiences. From trembling to hiding, skipping the litter box to excessive meowing, vomiting and even aggression, your cat may be showing you shes anxious more often than you realize.

Here are some tips and advice on how to calm a cat whos scared, stressed, or even just hyper.

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Let Them Eat In Peace

Keep your cats food, water and litter tray somewhere quiet and out of the way. Although not a big deal for humans, fridges, dryers and washing machines make a lot of noise and can be off-putting for cats when they are trying to eat. Similarly, cats can find it difficult to relax when their litter tray is kept in a major thoroughfare such as a hallway or kitchen. Having to pass or step over your cat can startle it during its more private moments, resulting in a more stressed or anxious feline.

Monitoring Cat Behavior: The Signs Of Stress

We often speak to cat owners who are worried about their cats change in behavior. Oftentimes, the animal is acting differently due to stress in the home.

Watch for the following changes to cat behavior, which are likely indicators of stress in your cat:

  • Withdrawn

  • Hiding from you and other animals

  • Lack of willingness to interact with you and other animals

  • Inappropriate urination or excessive marking

  • Excessive/obsessive grooming

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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.

The Role Of Early Socialisation

7 Simple Steps to Reduce Stress in Cats

Genetics and early experiences influence a cats behaviour and its response to the environment. The most significant impact is made by breeders in the choice of appropriate lines to produce confident, social individuals. Rescue catteries, breeders and households breeding non-pedigree kittens will also influence their kittens future behaviour by the quality of early socialisation and habituation to domestic life.

The sensitive period takes place between two and seven weeks of age when particular events are especially likely to have long-term effects on the individual cats development. Socialisation at this time allows kittens to form positive associations with other species, including humans.

At this time the kitten should also be exposed to all the sensory input that would normally be experienced in the average modern home: for example, vacuum cleaners, music, wet and dry food, furniture, carpets, wood floors and litter materials.

Failure to provide the appropriate early experiences could potentially lead to stress when the cat is exposed to humans and domestic environments in later life.

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What Should I Do When I Arrive At The Clinic

Ideally, try to schedule your appointment for a quieter time of the day if possible. If your cat is really nervous, you may want to check in with the staff on your arrival to see if you can bring the cat directly into an examination room rather than waiting in the reception area. Some veterinary clinics have a separate room for cats or a separate entrance. When you are moving the carrier from the car to the clinic, try not to tip the carrier or bang it against any doorways on your way in. Once you are in the examination room, ask your veterinarian if you can put the cats blanket on the examination table. Your veterinarian may suggest taking the lid off the carrier so that your cat does not have to be pulled out of the carrier, or maybe can even stay in it during part of the examination.

Greeting Behaviour Of The Veterinary Staff

Research shows that dogs are very good at reading and responding to signals of human intention and have large vocabularies of human words . However, although humans recognise extreme states of stress and distress in dogs, they tend to misread more subtle signs . In addition to learning what dogs and cats are trying to communicate to humans through movements of their eyes, ears and whiskers, their weight shifts, and body postures, veterinary personnel can also use their own body language to show pets that one is not a threat. Firstly, to minimise stress, care should be taken when initially greeting these animals. Avoid leaning over or reaching for an animal, as this can be construed as menacing . Similarly, avoid squatting down with ones face close to the animal rather, squat from further away and avoid facing head on. Squatting, sitting or standing sideways is less threatening than looming over an animal. Very fearful dogs can be approached by the person moving sideways before squatting down or sitting on a chair and turning obliquely. Direct eye contact should also be avoided . It is also important to allow the animal to gradually get used to personnel, even after a successful greeting. Slow, smooth movements, allowing the animal the opportunity to move away, and awareness of the animals body language will help to minimise stress.

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Relaxation And Cats How Cats Reduce Stress In Humans

It is well known that having a cat as a pet can work wonders for reducing a persons stress levels. Theres nothing like the slow, gentle action of stroking a cat on your lap and listening to it gently purring in appreciative response, to calm the mind and reduce the blood pressure. Conscious of what a tremendous therapeutic effect animals can have on people, carers sometimes bring them into a hospital setting precisely for this purpose.

A cat can work wonders: it can reduce blood pressure and it can provide friendship and comfort for people who live on their own, particularly when they are elderly or infirm and are rarely able to go out.

Q. My mother has decided not to go into sheltered housing because she cant take her cat there. She says hes better at keeping her calm than valium. Is she talking nonsense?

No, shes probably quite right. And if thats the way she feels, it would not be advisable to make her move without her cat, as this might make her nervy and unhappy. Try to find another arrangement that will accommodate her cat.

Q. I havent been well recently and my husband says we should get rid of the cat because he is more work. But I feel that he helps keep me sane. Is this stupid?

No, not at all. Your husband should realise that looking after people isnt only a matter of making them well, but also of making them content and happy, and an animal can play a large part in this process as your experience shows.

How To Calm A Cat After Moving

reduce stress in cats

Relocating to a new home or apartment can be very difficult for cats, who love routine and familiarity. If youre moving with cats, Van de Kieft says this isnt the time to buy a new cat tree or debut a different cat bed. Since a new place will smell different already, bring as much stuff as possible that smells like the cat, so there are familiar things there, she says.

Van de Kieft also suggests plugging in a feline pheromone diffuser a few weeks in advance of arriving with your cat, if you can, to get those soothing scents into the air.

Calder and Van de Kieft both recommend designating a single safe haven room for your cat when moving into a new place. Fill it with all her familiar belongings, and make sure there are separate areas for using the litter box, resting, eating and drinking. Let her get comfortable and used to that room before slowly introducing her to the rest of the new home, ideally one space at a time.

Meanwhile, stick to her usual schedule for feeding and playtime as much as possible.

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The Relationship Between Fear And Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are not the same, and it is important that veterinary staff understand the distinction in order to reduce the incidence of fear in the clinic . Tynes has written a useful article on the physiologic effects of fear: Fear and anxiety share many similar physiologic responses and an animal that experiences fear and anxiety frequently, and is unable to escape from the stimuli, will suffer from stress and its effects. Fear is a normal behaviour. It is an emotional response that occurs when an animal perceives that a situation is dangerous, and is adaptive when it helps an animal escape from a situation that is truly dangerous. Anxiety, on the other hand, is anticipation of future danger that may be unknown, imagined or real. Chronic anxiety is considered to be an abnormal behaviour and can be a serious welfare concern for an animal in a continual state of anxiety.

Life Stressors Of Cats: How To Make Your Cat More Comfortable When Stress Occurs

What is a life stressor?

Life stressors are events and changes in your cat’s environment that may affect her well-being. Our research suggests that some cats are unusually sensitive to their surroundings. These cats may respond to life stressors by becoming uncomfortable, nervous, or fearful. Particularly susceptible cats may even get sick, or develop behavioral problems such as aggression.

We may not realize how sensitive your cat is to something as simple as moving furniture around the room or having company over for dinner. Cats are creatures of habit, and they depend on us to keep their surroundings stable and safe.

When we plan to do something that changes the cat’s surroundings, even for a short period of time, we can help alleviate her stress and discomfort by following a few simple guidelines. The following is a list of common life stressors for cats. It includes guidelines for reducing your cat’s stress level and making her more comfortable in a changing environment.

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Ways To Reduce Stress And Anxiety In Your Cat

Sometimes change is unavoidable for our cats, like moving into a new home, bringing home a new baby, having house guests, or adopting a new dog or cat. All of these can truly rock a cats world and trigger behavior changes. Sometimes even the slightest change can cause some cats to become uncomfortable, fearful, stressed, and anxious. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to reduce anxiety in your cat, and provide a more stress-free environment at home.

Cats are very vulnerable to changes at home, new people, houseguests, home remodeling, and they will often show they are feeling anxious and uncomfortable by hiding more often, vocalizing more, obsessively licking, uncontrollably drooling or chewing, sleeping all day or more than normal, urine marking or even potting outside the litter box. Sometimes external changes in the cats home environment can even negatively impact your cats overall health and quality of life.

Identify Possible Cause of Anxiety

First, identify the situations or changes in the environment responsible for your cats new behavior. Always talk with your veterinarian first about behavior changes and schedule an examination to make sure the behavior changes are not health-related. If you get a clean bill of health and there are no physical problems associated with their new behavior, here are some ways to help your cat become calmer, more comfortable, and happier.

Making Your Home More Comfortable

Lots of Play Toys

Create A Chill Out Zone

How To Reduce Stress In Cats | Though The Cat Flap | S2 | Episode 2

Just as teens retreat to their bedrooms, and adults to their homes, cats need a place they know is theirs, where they are safe, calm and away from the daily feline grind.

Set aside a corner in your home and place a few of your cats favourite toys, blankets and some climbing equipment. Make sure this area is away from anything too loud for the cat, such as the TV, stereo, fridge or washing machine. Remember, nobody likes to feel trapped, especially cats, so make sure they can access this area whenever they need to.

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In The Simplest Terms The Researchers On This Study Basically Found That Having A Cat Makes You Feel Less Stressed Overall And They Were Able To Prove That By Measuring Cat Owners’ Heart Rate And Blood Pressure

According to Medical News Today, the researchers looked at data from more than 4,000 people between the ages of 30 and 75 years old over the course of 10 years. About half of the participants were either current or former cat owners, while the other half had never owned a cat at all. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that cat owners, overall, had a 30 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke compared to people who didn’t own a cat, even when accounting for factors like smoking, diabetes, heart health, and cholesterol levels.

Professor Adnan Qureshi, a researcher from the University of Minnesota who led the study, told The Telegraph that even he and his team were kind of taken aback by the numbers in their findings, too. Still, he said “the logical explanation” for their results is likely that “cat ownership relieves stress and anxiety and subsequently reduces the risk of heart disease.” What’s more, he told the news outlet, he believes that “stroking the pet could cut the level of stress-related hormones in the blood.”

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