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.
How To Recognize Stress In Cats
There are a number of behaviors to be aware of when it comes to recognizing stress in cats. Find out what can cause stress in cats and how this can be combated.
Has your cat been acting strange? Has it been hiding at the sound of the doorbell, or acting cautious and upset with family members or houseguests? Maybe your cat has been urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. These behaviors can all be signs that your cat is stressed.
What causes stress and anxiety in cats?
One way to determine whether your cat is stressed is to look at a situation from their point of view. While having a houseguest might be exciting for the owner, it’s a new smell, a new person and a disruption in routine for the cat. Other common causes of stress for cats include new pets, new babies, remodeling, construction, storms, or general changes to their routine.
How to recognize stress in cats
Cats exhibit stress in a variety of ways. They may have skin, bladder and/or gastrointestinal issues. They may also urinate outside their litter box, vocalize excessively with growls or hissing, act aggressively toward people or other animals, or groom obsessively. Some cats have even been known to lick themselves bald from stress.
Helping prevent or alleviate stress in cats
Visit Your Vet
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.
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Over Handling Of Cats
Cats can enjoy being stroked, but every cat is different. Some like being stroked a lot. For others it will be strictly on their terms only!
Being stroked or picked up when its not wanted or enjoyed is stressful for them. And although many cats will enjoy the company of younger members of the household, some very young children can be overly enthusiastic when it comes to stroking cats and this persistent attention can be very stressful.
Signs That Your Cat Is Sick
Illustration: The Spruce / Ellen Lindner
Could your cat be sick? It may be difficult to know if subtle changes in your cat indicate a health problem. Cats are experts at hiding illness. In the wild, this instinct can protect them from predators or other cats that might be a threat. Today’s house cat has the same tendency to avoid vulnerability, even if the only potential threat is a housemate. Even cats in single-pet homes tend to have the instinct to self-protect.
There is another reason why cats and many other animals are less likely to show pain or illness: They simply do not have an emotional relationship with their discomfort. Animals tend to accept the pain or illness as the new normal and move on. It may not be until they are extremely ill that their sickness becomes obvious to humans.
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How To Help My Stressed/anxious Cat
The best method is to remove the cause of your cat’s stress/anxiety from your home, but that method is no use if you have a new pet or newborn baby!
Gradually introducing your cat to the sound, smell and sight of your new pet/baby can help to reduce stress.
Make sure your cat has somewhere safe to retreat to – away from the source of stress. Keep their food bowl, litter tray and resting area separate, and provide high-up areas for them to perch on.
If youve done all you can to ease your cat’s anxiety but symptoms persist, it could be worth talking to your vet about a calming aid such as Vetpro: Stress & anxiety.
Reducing Stress For Your Cat
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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:
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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Signs Your Cat May Be Stressed
A cat in a crouched, tense body stance with its tail tucked in, head lowered, and pupils dilated is a stressed cat. Some cats will become vocal or aggressive . Other cats may just hide, preferring solitude under a bed or other similar safe spot.
When there is a constant or recurrent source of stress, you may see signs of skin, gastrointestinal, or urinary issues. Some cats will obsessively groom themselves, to the point they may become raw and/or bald in areas. There could be vomiting or diarrhea, a change in appetite, or the cat may suddenly start urinating outside of the litter box.
Sudden changes in behavior warrant a trip to your vet to rule out any potential medical causes. For example, a cat that does not typically hide under the bed should be considered potentially sick and be checked by your vet before deciding if the behavior is stress-related. A cat that is suddenly grooming constantly may have a skin infection, allergies, or fleas and should head in for a checkup.
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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How To Help A Stressed Cat
Worried about your cats symptoms or change in behaviour? While there are a lot of things you can do at home to calm a stressed cat, planning in a visit to the vet should be top of your list.
If youve found a problem with your cats physical health, such as weight loss or issues toileting, it is even more important to get them seen quickly.
Your vet may suggest things you can do at home to keep your cat calm, such as altering their environment or changing their routine.
Cat Stress Relief: Tips And Tricks
In order to provide your cat stress relief, Kornreich recommends pet parents do the following:
- Establish a schedule and try to adhere to it.
- Remove known stressors from your home.
- Avoid sudden changes in your cats environment.
If you cant remove a stressor , consider keeping them in separate rooms and then gradually reintroducing them in a neutral space, which can sometimes help ease cats into a better relationship, says Kornreich.
Beyond this, make sure to provide plenty of environmental stimulationsuch as interactive toys and puzzle feedersto prevent boredom and offer your cat a place to climb and hide away, like a comfortable basket on a shelf, says Collier.
If youre concerned about a stressed-out cat in your household, remember that chronic stress can lead to health issues over time. In order to figure out the best cat stress relief solution for your situation, call your veterinarian and consider asking for a referral to a cat behavior consultant.
Sometimes, pheromone sprays and diffusers as well as prescription medications can help treat more serious cases of cat stress.
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.
A Dog Who Is Trembling And Pacing Is Highly Distressed
Shaking and pacing back and forth are signs that a dog is feeling extremely uncomfortable and seeking a way out of their current situation.
“Trembling and pacing are indicators of stress. It’s a fight-or-flight behavior The dog is looking for an escape route,” said Farrell.
If your dog is trembling and pacing, it’s important to immediately act to either remove the source of their anxiety or allow them to move away from whatever is causing them discomfort.
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Reasons Why Your Cat Might Be Stressed
Stress and anxiety can have debilitating effects on a human’s health. Stress in cats acts much the same way. Not only can it exacerbate existing physical conditions, but it can lead to a number of problems often considered behavioral, such as litter box avoidance, aggressive behavior, or depression and withdrawal.
Whenbehavioral problems suddenly appear, savvy cat owners soon learn to look first for signs of health problems, such as urinary tract infections with litter box avoidance, and next for stress factors, such as changes in the environment.
How To Tell If Your Cat Is Stressed And What Are Possible Causes
over a year ago
I’ve heard some people talking about how their cats are stressed out and stuff, and I was like: “What”?
I never thought about this. I never even knew that my cat can be stressed and what would she even be stressed about? I know how I’m acting when I’m stressed out and I doubt that cats can do the same like, yell at the people all the time and curse them.
What if my cat is stressed and I don’t know about it? I want to know when it happens so I can help her.
So can you please tell me how to tell if your cat is stressed and what are possible causes?
over a year ago
Hey there Mima.
It is very easy to determine is your cat stressed or not. Cats are just like us they can be stressed by several reasons. Here are some signs:
- Your cat is urinating inside of the litter box,
- She is having diarrhea and some other digestive issue,
- Excessive scratching can be indicator of behavioral issues,
- She is meowing too much,
- She is hiding all the time,
- She doesnt want to eat,
- She sleeps too much,
- She is aggressive.
A lot of things can be the cause. For example, moving out, taking her space, new pet in the house
Dog Whisperer346764 over a year ago
Love-is-pet346786 over a year ago
I can talk about this for a whole day since all of my cats went through this period 🙂 Yes, all of my cat were stressed :/
I believe that this is normal thing.
Let me tell you when I found out that my cat is stressed for the first time, my first cat.
This is one of the main causes.
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Urinating Outside Of Their Litter Box
Uh-oh, did kitty make a mess? Sudden and unexplained changes in your cats bathroom habits can be a clear indication that your cat is experiencing stress. This stress signal is easy to spotand smelland shouldnt be taken lightly. If bathroom accidents become a new habit, its best to take your cat in for a medical examination at your veterinary office.
Is Your Cat Freaking Out
Stress can make anyone a little crazy, even our cats. The tricky part is while the anxiety and fear associated with stress affects our cats in much the same way it does us, most cats tend to hide and mask their inner turmoil. Even worse, stress can be an indication that your cat has a health issue. According to Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist, chronic stress can even “suppress the immune response, causing a broad range of illnesses.” Here are some signs of stress you’ll want to watch out for in your cat, especially if they occur suddenly.
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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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Make Their Home A Sanctuary
You can also make your home feel like a safe sanctuary for your cat. Often, cats will feel stressed because they are not comfortable, say the experts at Cornell University. They may not have a safe space to retreat to when they feel anxious, or they may feel overwhelmed by all the activity in your home. You can create a perch, a cat cave like Feltcave, or hidey hole for them, using cat trees or cat bed caves. These are products that can be found in your typical pet store, and they can give our cat a safe location to hide away. Hiding is part of a cats instinctual behavior, as hiding helps wild cats find prey and remain safe. One of our favorites is the Great White Shark Bed from The Cat Ball .
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