Helping A Stressed Cat
If youre concerned about your cats behaviour and are struggling to reduce stress, you might be referred to a qualified behaviourist who can identify the underlying cause of the stress and design a tailored behavioural plan for your cat. Make sure the behaviourist belongs to a regulated body like the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. Theyll be able to focus on the issue with your cats behaviour and help them to manage.
One way to help reduce stress is a plug-in pheromone diffuser like Feliway. You simply plug it in the room where your cat spends most of their time and it can help them to reduce their anxiety. However, it should be used in combination with medical and behavioural advice as it is one piece of the puzzle to help. It may not be that effective when used as a stand-alone treatment .
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.
Helping Your Cat Avoid Stress
While banishing all stress from your cats universe may not be possible, a cat owner who really understands his cat may be able to avoid certain stress-causing situations, Reimers says. Get to know your cats personality so you understand what makes him happy. Giving lots of attention and playtime may help him feel secure and alleviate boredom.
She adds that regular vet checkups are a must so you can stay on top of illnesses and help your cat through the aging process by providing for his medical needs.
Blass suggests keeping stress at bay by making any changes gradual ones.
When your cat needs to accept a new pet or baby, do not just throw the two together and hope for the best. Acclimate slowly so your cat can get used to the idea before she has to see the other cat or baby, she says.
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Causes Of Stress In Cats
The main things that we know about that cause signs of stress in cats include:
- Too much competition for resources. This most often occurs in multi-cat households when cats feel like they must compete for food, water, clean litter box space, scratching post real estate, or time with their humans.
- Inadequate territory. If a cat doesn’t feel like the master of a piece of territory, he might become stressed. This is usually the case when he doesn’t have a good scratching post to mark, or there are other cats in the home that bully him out of spaces.
- Changes in the household, including the addition or removal of pets or people. Cats are sensitive to change, and it can stress them out. In fact, when people in the house are feeling stressed, the cats often exhibit signs that they’re stressed, too, indicating that our emotions can rub off on them.
- Remodeling or other noisy events in the home. Most cats are not fond of loud noises, so remodeling projects, loud parties, and other noise can cause them stress.
- Veterinary, grooming, or kennel visits. Traveling in the car, being in an unknown space, and being handled by strangers can all work together to result in stress for some cats.
- Boredom. Cats that are bored and don’t have an outlet for their energy, especially their predator instincts, can become stressed.
Urinating Outside The Litter Box
Your initial reaction to a “potty accident” may be to yell and scream. Don’t! Cats that urinate outside the litter box are trying to tell us something. He or she may be stressed due to rearranged furniture, loud noises, an unclean litter box, or several other factors. Your cat may also have an underlying health issue causing the inappropriate urination. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist to help find the problem.
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Causes Signs And Treatment Of Stress In Cats
Stress is fairly rampant in today’s world. While it can be a good thing when we need to fight or flee for our lives, it can have adverse health impacts when it’s chronic and doesn’t let up. It can also negatively affect a person’s behavior and relationships.
Stress can have negative physical and mental on cats, and it can negatively affect their relationships with other pets and humans in the home. While they don’t get upset about the same things we do, our cats can experience chronic stress, which isn’t good for them.
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:
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Other Signs Of A Stressed Cat
You may notice your cat sits differently, their facial expression changes or they exhibit strange behaviours.
- Often crouching and looking tense indoors
- Ears rotate backwards frequently or flatten downwards
- Wide open eyes with very dilated pupils which makes their eyes look black
- Staring at the floor with a fixed, glazed expression
- Rapid frequent grooming that usually lasts around five seconds, starting and stopping quite suddenly
- Frequent head shaking
- Rippling, twitching skin on their back
- Exaggerated swallowing and quick flicks of their tongue onto their nose
One of the best ways to protect your cat against possible stress is to try to anticipate the sorts of things that might cause them stress in the first place . Once you have identified possible sources of stress, you can then manage the situation or environment in a way that helps reduce the chances of your cat suffering.
Is Your Cat Stressed Out
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When I talk to some people about how stress affects their cats, I sometimes get very strange looks. Back in 1982 when I first started my cat behavior consulting business, the idea of stress in cats was pretty much unheard of. I even remember being laughed at when my first book came out in 1990. Cats experiencing stress? What nonsense! These days, the veterinary world is doing more and more to educate clients about stress in cats and veterinarians work hard to minimize stress in the clinic setting. For some cat parents though, even with more information available about how stress affects cats, the idea their pampered pet could have anything to feel stressed about is a ridiculous one. Is it really ridiculous? Absolutely not. All animals are capable of being stressed and it can be potentially dangerous so its important to learn the signs and evaluate your cats situation to see if theres anything that can be done to keep stress levels to a minimum.
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How To Calm A Cat
1. To feel safe, your cat needs to have their own space and an easy way to escape if it all gets too much. Don’t crowd them or make a fuss instead, give them room to move away and do their own thing, then wait for them to come back on their own terms when theyre ready.
2. Your instinct might be to comfort your cat by stretching out your arm to stroke them, but they could see this as a threat and lash out with claws or teeth. Instead, give them some space and keep a watchful eye over them from somewhere close by, then save cuddles for a more relaxed moment.
3. Once your cat seems less stressed and more like their usual self, try to engage them in play from a distance. Use a fishing-rod toy or roll a ball for them and they will join in if they no longer feel like there’s danger looming.
What Can You Do To Prevent And Manage Stress
There are things you can do to prevent your cat from becoming stressed, both acutely and longer-term, and there are ways you can help your cat if you think they could be suffering from stress.
From time to time, your cat might encounter situations beyond your control that will cause them acute stress. Giving them time to calm down in a quiet, safe place, and allowing them to come to you if they want physical reassurance is often all that is needed. For those acute stressors over which you do have control, such as a visit to the vet or to a boarding cattery, you can put some plans in place to help your cat to cope.
Getting your cat used to their carrier while theyre still young is an easy way to make a big difference. Its better still if they are happy to walk inside to look for a treat when you open the door for them. Picking them up, bundling them inside or, worse still, having a fight each time you need your cat to go inside their carrier, isnt a good way to reduce stress levels!
If your cat goes to stay in a boarding cattery, find out whether they can take some of their own things with them, such as bedding. You can also ask whether the cattery offers short taster stays. If you leave them there for a longer stay in future, your cat will already be familiar with the new environment and will know that youre coming back for them.
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Understanding The 5 Categories Of Stress Beliefs
With the COVID-19 virus drastically changing the behavior of humans, especially by keeping many of us home more than usual and changing our daily routines, it is no surprise that our cats’ lives have also been disrupted. How can you help reduce your cats stress? First of all, step back and try to think about things from your cats point of view, and see if you can identify what might be causing discomfort. Empathy and understanding are the first steps.
Here are a few ideas for relieving your cats stress:
- If you think your cat might be overstimulated by more human interaction than usual, make sure they have a safe and quiet place they can go for some alone time.
- If you have more than one cat, you can make sure that there is plenty of food and affection to go around.
- Environmental enrichment can help your cat feel better by giving them interesting things to do.
- Some cats respond well to pheromone diffusers, which mimic the smells that cats leave behind on your hand, leg, couch pillows, or whatever else they rub their cheeks on.
- Make sure your cat is having fun and has ample opportunity to play. Here are more ideas about having fun with your cat: Fun things to do with your cat at home.
Facebook image: Koldunov Alexey/Shutterstock
And if you are looking for more information about COVID-19 and our pets, here are a few links:
How To Know If A Kitten 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 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 14,923 times.
All cats experience stress, but too much stress can be a bad thing. Cats show that they are stressed through changes in their behaviors. To know if your cat is stressed, look for physical changes like lack of appetite or changes in urination. You should also notice any behavioral changes, like excessive grooming or isolation. Finally, figure out if your home has experienced any recent major changes that may lead to stress.
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Stress In The Older Cat
Stress is a big factor in managing the health of a senior cat, or any cat with a serious physical condition. Cats with weakened immune systems, such as FIV or FeLV patients, do not thrive under stress.
Older cats and cats with a chronic and/or terminal disease do much better in a quiet setting, with a minimum of environmental changes. It would be very unwise to bring home a new kitten or a noisy dog under these circumstances. A hospital or hospice situation with tip-toeing and hushed voices is not necessary, but loud noises and sudden movement should be avoided, if possible. If there are children in the house, a discussion might be in order, not only to enlist their help in reducing stress to the older feline patient but also to help prepare them for what will inevitably come.
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
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What Are The Signs Of Stress In A Cat
There are numerous cat stress signs to spot although theyre not always obvious. Signs of stressed cats can include:
- becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual
- becoming less tolerant of people
- hesitating or becoming reluctant to use the litter tray, go through the cat flap or sit on your lap
- eating or drinking less
How To Reduce Stress For Cats
One of the ways to help your cat lower the levels of stress is by providing it with scratching opportunities.
There are a couple of main points when it comes to reducing stress in cats:
- Establish a routine and stick to it. Avoid sudden changes in your cats life, instead, make changes gradually.
- Remove or reduce stressors as possible.
- Provide environmental enrichment through increased climbing and vertical space opportunities, food puzzles, scratching opportunities, and daily play sessions.
- Maintain daily excellent litterbox hygiene, use basic boxes, get rid of liners and hoods and dont use harsh chemicals that irritate your cats boopable snoot.
- Provide resources for every cat . Experts recommend having one more litterbox than the number of cats.
- Avoid using heavy scents in the home
- Make sure you have adequate space for the number of cats you have: ASPCA recommends 18 square feet per cat.
- Provide adequate socialization to kittens: San Diego Humane has a great checklist on how to do this.
- Utilize calming aids as necessary. This includings pheromone sprays, thundershirt, anxiety medication, calming treats, Assisi loop, etc.
- Partner with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is in good health and free of pain.
- Visit Fear Free Happy Homes for tips on how to make veterinary visits less stressful, and more tips on reducing fear and anxiety in cats.
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Think About Creating Dog
If you find things just don’t improve, you should consider creating dog-free areas around the home where you’re cat feels comfortable in the knowledge their canine adversary is not allowed to be in. It’s also important not to tell your cat off if they do have a swipe at the canine newcomer when and if they do meet up by accident. Punishment will only stress your feline friend out even more.
It’s easy to create dog-free zones by simply installing baby gates in chosen doorways to prevent your pooch from gaining access to the room. Cats are very clever creatures and will soon understand that doggy cannot get through and they will automatically find the situation more relaxing. You should also place your cat’s water and feed bowls, scratching post, cat bed and toys in a dog-free area so the space really becomes their own.