Reasons Why Your Cat Is Stressed
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Cats can be very sensitive animals. They can be prone to anxiety and are often wary of their environment, usually more so than dogs. It depends on the stressors, but generally felines treat are able to get over these stressful episodes and adapt to new situations. However, if the negative stimulus is one they have to contend with on a regular basis, they can develop an anxiety disorder. This will stress your cat, making your relationship difficult, but more importantly it will damage their overall health and well-being.
Unfortunately, some of the things which stress out our cat are not always obvious. This is why AnimalWised brings you 11 reasons why your cat is stressed so that you can think what might be aggravating your kitty. If the reason for your cat’s stress is not on the list, hopefully it can at least direct you in the right direction.
Minimizing Your Senior Cats Stress
Pay close attention to your senior cat and cater to her through this new period of adjustment. Direct most of your positive attention to your senior. Be sure to pet her and praise her often, washing your hands to remove the scent of the new cat beforehand. .
If your older cat is young enough to still be playful, play with her first or create playtime together using a feather wand when the cats are in close proximity. Place water dishes throughout the house, and supervise feeding time to be sure your senior cat is eating enough. Feeding healthy treats by hand can remind your old cat that she is special. Also, it is up to you as the top cat to teach the new cat her place in the household. If she is too pushy or playful with your senior cat, redirect her play toward you and your feather wand. This has worked with young Juice, whose playtime is now directed toward me and his toys and away from sleeping Bob.
Sometimes no matter how well youve prepared, things just wont go as planned. A new younger cat or kitten may always play too rough with your old cat and be a constant source of stress. Also, every cat is an individual, capable of deciding on her own about whom to like or dislike. Usually, given time, two cats learn to accept each other, but once in a while two individuals never learn to get along.
Symptoms Of Stress In Cats
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Stress is a defense mechanism that is not only present in humans, but is found in animals too. In fact, it is an adaptive response to the environment which allows for survival in dangerous situations.
The main problem is that stress can be pathological when it arises repeatedly, or in situations where the cat is in no evident harm. Cats, therefore, are very susceptible to stress. They need to have their environment completely under their control and can trigger an intense adaptive response to the smallest of changes.
Some cats manage stress very well, whereas for others it constitutes a health problem that needs to be treated. In order to spot this disorder as soon as possible, this AnimalWised article will show you the 5 main symptoms of stress in cats.
Do Cats Miss Their Owners
One 2015 study from the University of Lincoln says that cats don’t miss their owners the way dogs do because they don’t attach to their owners in the same way dogs do. … There are a few little signs that your cat missed you while you were away, whether on a long vacation, or just a particularly lengthy work day.
These steps must be followed in order to ensure a successful and safe relocation:
Signs Of Cats Feeling Stressed And What You Can Do About It
Just like humans, cats are prone to stress although it might be tricky to tell if your cat is feeling unsettled.
Cats are subtle in their body language, so youll need to keep an eye on them to ensure they are content.
Signs of stress can include:
- becoming more withdrawn or hiding more than usual
- becoming less tolerant of people
- hesitating or becoming reluctant of using the litter tray, going through the cat flap, sitting on your lap eating or drinking less
- a scruffy or matted coat
- house soiling
If you already know that your cat is struggling with stress, it can be difficult to know what to do to help. In aid of Stress Awareness Month, weve put together our top five tips for reducing your cats stress, so you can make sure youve got a calm kitty.
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Use The Power Of Your Cats Nose
Scent swapping is a technique that can be used to help your senior cat get to know the newcomer before they even meet. Place a blanket with the new cats scent on it near your cats bed. You can also place toys or bedding that the new cat has used throughout the house for your cat to check out. If this isnt possible beforehand, no worries the technique can still be applied routinely as the cats get to know each other.
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.
Also Check: What Medicine Is Best For Stress And Anxiety
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.
Make Sure Your Cat Has Everything It Needs
It might seem obvious, but ensuring your cat has a litter tray, food and water bowls and even a scratching post can help reduce stress. Where you put these items can also have a surprising impact on your cats stress levels too. Keep litter trays away from eating areas, for example, and make sure your cats resources arent in an area with lots of noise or people.
Recommended Reading: How To Grow Back Hair From Stress
About Dr Sarah Wooten Dvm Cvj
A 2002 graduate of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sarah Wooten is a well known international speaker in the veterinary and animal health care spaces. She has 10 years experience in public speaking and media work, and writes for a large number of online and printanimal health publications. Dr. Wooten is also a certified veterinary journalist, a member of the AVMA, and has 16 years experience insmall animal veterinary practice. To learn more, visit drsarahwooten.com.
What Are The Signs Of Stress In Cats
If your cat is feeling stressed, their behaviour may change. Some of these changes can happen suddenly and be very obvious, but others can develop gradually or be harder to spot.
Some signs your cat might be feeling stressed include:
- Hiding or staying out of the way all the time
- Avoiding certain places, other pets or people
- Poor coat quality
- Body language that shows they are worried
- Peeing in the wrong place, urine spraying or marking, blood in the urine
- Meowing or yowling more than normal
- Sudden changes in behaviour
- Aggression towards other pets or people
Many of these signs can be caused by medical problems as well as stress. So if you’re worried about your cat or they show a sudden change in behaviour, always contact your vet for advice first.
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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.
Not Having A Scratcher
If you haven’t trimmed in a while, you will know that long nails can be bothersome. The same goes for your cat. Long claws impede mobility causing a physical stress on their legs which can in turn form an emotional stress for your cat. To avoid this, it is important to provide a cat scratcher so that they can use it to file down their claws. If you don’t provide one, then they will use your couch, walls, curtains or pretty much any piece of wood or fabric in your house for these purposes. Unfortunately, cats will often claw these objects even if you do provide a cat scratcher or scratching post.
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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.
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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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:
Choose A Suitable Carrier
Make sure your carrier is warm, comfortable and large enough for your cat to stand up and turn around. Plastic carriers are ideal for easy cleaning if you fear there may be mess and top and front opening carriers allow the cat to be carefully lifted in and out. If you think your cat would feel happier sitting in the base whilst being examined that will be fine, just let your vet know.
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Increasing The Cat Bond
Full acceptance may go quickly, or it may take a month or more for the cats to accept each other. To help them along with their newfound relationship and encourage bonding, teach the cats a few behaviors that are rewarded with special treats that they dont receive in their regular diet. A good place to start is with come. Call them by name or say, Here, kitty kitty. My Bob already knows this, so he always comes running when a treat is involved. I tried this with the new kitten nearby, and he followed Bob to the treat. I gave them each a treat on the floor, far enough apart to prevent potential arguing. This creates a positive experience while the cats are in close proximity to one another.
In the winter months, one tool that can help cats be better bonders is a shared heat source. There are heating pads specifically designed for cats that can bring strangers closer together when seeking warmth or distract them from arguments when two pads are placed side by side. A heated cat bed will provide continuous heat at a safe, low level.
Is All Stress Bad
Several physiological systems within the cats body regulate stress, predominantly the HPA axis and the sympathetic nervous system, both of which have evolved to deal with the normal short-term stress associated with the natural lifestyle of the species. These systems control the release of hormones that prepare the individual to face a challenge, often referred to as the fight/flight response or acute stress response.
However, these systems are less well adapted to dealing with chronic or long-term stress and this is the type of stress that plays a significant role in the development of behavioural problems and stress-related disease in cats.
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Seven Signs Your Cat Is Stressed Out
They may not have bills or politics to worry about, but cats get stressed out sometimes, too. Its a relatable problem and, just like with people, sustained stress can lead to health problems in cats.
Its important to keep an eye on a kittys behavior, look out for common triggers, and alleviate stress when possible. For cats, routine is everything, so beware of major changes in their environment, such as a move, unfamiliar people visiting, the arrival of a newborn, etc.
Is your cat stressed? Look out for these changes in behavior.
1. Potty Problems
Your cat might start doing their business in new and inventive places, or they might stop pottying altogether. Talk to your vet immediately if you notice that your cat isnt peeing, as this can be a sign of a serious illness called urethral obstruction.
2. Decreased Appetite
Eating less , is an important sign that your cat could be feeling stress or pain, or that theres another serious problem.
3. Voicing Their Grievances
Some cats are just talkative, but if you notice your cat has been meowing for unusually long periods or at different times of day than usual, they might be trying to tell you something is wrong.
4. Aggression Issues
A cat that has suddenly become more aggressive might be acting out due to stress or an underlying health issue. Increased aggression is a sign you need to bring kitty in for a checkup at the vet.
5. Excessive Grooming
6. Uncharacteristic Hiding
Which came first?