Ways Stress Affects Feline Health
Cats are sensitive by nature. Sometimes even a minor change in the environment, such as moving a piece of furniture, can cause stress. Things that may not seem stressful to a person can be perceived as extremely stressful by a cat, and the cats physiological reaction to the stressors can manifest as illness.
Stressors for cats include moving to a new home, home remodeling, a visit to the vet, a new baby in the family, a new cat or dog in the home, or sudden aggression between cats in the same household who have previously coexisted peacefully.
Cats are masters at hiding signs of illness, so their stress may not be evident immediately, but prolonged stress can gradually damage health. A landmark study conducted at Ohio State University in 2011 looked at how stress affects cats. The findings led to a new understanding among veterinarians and cat caregivers on the connection between environmental stress and urinary tract disease.
A more recent study in Seoul, South Korea, linked events such as living with other cats, lack of vertical space, and living in an apartment to increased risk of feline interstitial cystitis, an often painful inflammatory condition of the bladder and urinary tract.
Soft Or Contain Mucus
If your cats poop is frothy, soft, greasy with mucus, it is due to the intestinal parasites. Its frequency varies.
Ive known cats to poop more often before being diagnosed with a parasite problem. Its as if they want to let us know there is a problem and want us to take notice something is off!
If diarrhea persists for more than three days, visit your veterinarian.
If your cat has a bloody or black colored poop, along with sluggishness, fever, or vomiting, call your veterinarian immediately.
The bloody stool may also be due to constipation but its important to dig further quickly.
How You Can Help Her
If your cat is experiencing urinary stress, a visit to the vet is likely needed. Depending on her stressors, your vet may prescribe medication and/or adjust her diet with therapeutic cat food, which can help relieve some urinary issues and get her on the path to feeling well again. In addition to prescription medication and food, your vet can also offer suggestions on how to improve your home environment to calm all the cats in your household. If you have cats that do not get along, feed them separately and give them each their own litter box, bed, and hiding space to retreat to if things get stressful.
Sometimes, however, all you need to do is spend a little more time with your cat and give her positive attention to ease her mind. Also, try keeping the litter box and house very clean and make sure she is well-hydrated, which can relieve stress and reduce or eliminate the feline urinary problems. Unfortunately, for many cats, dealing with feline urinary stress may take weeks or months to alleviate.
Another huge factor to managing your cat’s stress is to provide her with consistency. If you know your routine will change soon or a big life change is on the horizon , try to prepare your cat by finding items and toys she enjoys. A little extra pampering will help her feel more secure and may even distract her from the changes to come. Additionally, keep the litter box very clean and find a quiet place for her to relax.
Recommended Reading: What Are Some Signs Of Stress
Some Of The Ways To Minimize Separation Anxiety In Cats Are As Follows:
- Leave the radio or TV on a station that is often on when youre there
- Keep arrivals and departures low key
- Create a nook, safe haven, or refuge for your cat that is their safe space
- Provide plenty of toys and/or puzzles for playtime while you are gone
- Channel prey instincts by hiding food in toys that make them work for it
- Start with shorter absences first
- Provide a perch or catio so that your cat can see their favorite views
- Consider a room diffuser or pheromones to provide a calming scent for your cat
- Remove departure cues put your keys in your pocket a few minutes before leaving)
- Provide plenty of cuddles and playtime once home
- For more serious cases, consider having a sitter coming for 1-2 play sessions during absences
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of checking with your veterinarian when you see any change in your cats behavior before you chalk it up to separation anxiety, as early treatment of illnesses is crucial to cat wellness. For example, some cats go outside the litter box when they have urinary tract infections.
In extreme cases, medication may be an option, but your vet will usually leave that as a final alternative. As the ASPCA notes: “Sometimes for cats, veterinarians will advise using pheromones or calming treats before prescribing medication. Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog or cat any type of medication or supplement for a behavior problem.”
Why Is My Cat Acting Weird
If you noticeyour cat is acting weird, it is possible to find the reason or reasons why ascats give you clues through their behavior. Although known for their moodiness,cats are primarily seen as affectionate and loving companions. So any sudden andweird changes in your feline friends behavior can bring about worrisome andunsettling feelings.
Don’t Miss: Can Stress Cause Weight Gain
My Cat Scratches A Lot But Is Healthy
If we see our cat is scratching or licking a lot, but there are no other visible symptoms, it is possible the issue is psychological. This is much less frequent, but it does happen. The veterinarian will usually be able to discern if the problem is psychological once physical possibilities have been ruled out.
What we see when a cat keeps scratching, especially when the skin becomes raw and they don’t stop, might be due to compulsive grooming. This a response to stress. In these cases, there is no physical itching, but the anxiety from which the cat is suffering makes them feel like they need to do something. The result might be alopecia or even broken skin. The initial treatment will be for the skin damage. This may include antibiotics for cats to treat any secondary infection. After this, we will need to treat the psychological damage which may require the help of an ethologist.
Cats are animals which are very susceptible to change. Practically any change in their routine can trigger a serious stress problem. In these cases, they may develop constant scratching which eventually will cause skin damage if not stopped. Check out our article on reasons why your cat is stressed to learn more.
Cat Anxiety Treatment Options
Once your kitty is diagnosed with separation anxiety, your veterinarian will recommend treatment. Cat anxiety treatment includes behavioral modification, and drugs may be necessary. If the symptoms arent too severe, most vets will start working with you on modifying behavior. Cat behavior modification techniques focus on reducing stress and increasing stimulation.
If you get stuck, you can always seek help from a pet behavior expert. If you’re a Petcube Care member, you can reach out to Vetted’s network of vet techs and specialists via live chat or phone.
Also Check: Can I Sue My Job For Stress
Reasons Your Cat Gets Sad
Cats get sad for specific reasons. Your cat may become sad when the expected relationship between you and them is lost. It is important to spend quality time with your cat to keep both of you happy.
The following are other reasons why your cat may become sad:
Loss of a loved one. Just like you, cats grieve at the loss of a loved one. Your cat may have developed a bond with your dog over time, for example. If your dog dies or leaves your home, you may notice the cat looking sad and depressed. This is a temporary behavior, and your cat will recover.
Injury. Your cat may get injured when playing, taking a walk, or just being a cat. If your cat is unable to do things they once enjoyed, sadness may be inevitable.
Illness. A sad cat could also point you toward an underlying condition that your vet should check for. Some of the diseases and infections that can affect the mood of your cat include fatty liver disease, dental disease, upper respiratory disease, ringworm, and cancer.
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.
Recommended Reading: How To Know You Are Stressed
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:
Signs That Your Cat Is Stressed
Most of us experience stress and anxiety at times. It certainly isnt fun! Just like us, cats can also feel stressed. Fluffy may not have to worry about her job or paying bills, but she can still suffer from anxiety. Some of the things that make our feline friends nervous include loud noises, strangers, changes in ownership, and moving. New roommates, whether human or animal, can also make kitties uneasy. Your furry pal cant tell you if shes feeling stressed, but her behavior may clue you in. Read on to learn about some of the most common signs of feline stress in this article from Fairfield Animal Hospital, your local Cy-Fair veterinary clinic.
Don’t Miss: What Is Stress For Kids
Moving With Your Cat Long Distance Or Across The Country
Of course, some special circumstances require extra planning. If you’re moving a long distance or even across the country , you need to take extra precautions.
If you have to travel on a plane with your cat, you need to decide on flying together in the cabin versus checking your cat into the plane’s cargo area. If at all possible, travel together in the cabin, but be sure to check with your airline for their specific requirements. Make sure your cat’s weight and carrier size meet the airline’s specifications. The K& H Lookout Pet Carrier is potentially a good option because the small size meets some requirements. You will need other travel supplies, vaccination records, and a harness in case you have to take your cat out of the carrier for the X-ray screening.
If you’re traveling with your cat in a car, it’s a little easier but still requires some planning ahead. Find a good carrier, like the Travel Safety Carrier that secures to the seat and keeps your cat from moving while you drive. Take short trips at first to help your kitty get used to the drive. Pack travel supplies like a small litter box and portable water and food dishes, along with a harness.
My Cat Doesnt Like The Car Ride Do You Have Any Suggestions For Reducing That Stress
Safety is the most important consideration when transporting your cat the carrier needs to be secure and it needs to be placed within the vehicle in a position that holds it securely in place should you have to brake suddenly. Never consider travelling with your cat loose in the car.
To reduce the stress of the car ride, spray your car interior with a couple of squirts of Feliway® 30 minutes to 1 hour before you are leaving. Bring a blanket or large towel with you, and once the carrier is secured in the car, cover it with the towel to reduce visual stimulation.
Once you start driving, try to avoid any sudden braking, acceleration, or sharp turns. Tune the radio to a soothing station and make sure the heater or air conditioner does not blow directly into the carrier.
You May Like: Where Can You Get Stress Balls
Can You Tell When Your Cat Stresses Out
Animals can experience stress but how can you tell. Lisa Chelenza has more on signs of stress in cats, and how you can help them relax in this edition of Pet Pointers.
It may seem to us that our cats have it made, but a life of long naps and chasing toy mice can be stressful in its own way.
Some signs your cat is stressed out include hiding, over grooming, growling and urinating outside of their box.
Many things can trigger stress in cats so it is important that you figure out the cause and try to find a solution. Did you relocate? Is there a new person coming to your home? Have you added a new cat, kitten or dog? Did you or your animals change medications? Are they injured?
Cats are very sensitive to their environment and small changes can send some cats into survival mode causing them to hide or act out. If you move to a new apartment or home the different vibrations could be stressing out your cat. Things like elevators, heating and cooling systems, garbage disposals and air conditioners could be making your cat anxious. Trains, busses, cars and neighbors can all trigger stress for cats. Try playing the radio or TV while you are away and provide a high place for your cat to perch and keep watch.
Remember, symptoms of stress can also be an indication of a health related issue. If behaviors continue for a long period of time it is important to talk to your vet so you can work together to figure it out.
Your Cats Social Interaction
Never force your cat to interact. Let kitty set the pace of how much he wants to engage. Dont insist on holding or petting your cat if he doesnt want it. If he doesnt mind being held, always put him down before he starts to struggle. Keep the experience positive. You can give him incentives to be more sociable, such as offering a treat or playtime, but always let it be his choice of whether to accept or decline.
You May Like: Can Stress Cause Inflammation In The Body
Cats Meow To Get Your Attention
Why do cats meow? Because it is normal! Meowing is your cats way of speaking, and they like to communicate with you or ask for attention.
But if youre still wondering why is my cat meowing so much? try to figure out the cause of the excessive meowing and how you can help. If there is a potential health problem, seek the advice of your veterinarian. If your cat is lonely or only seeking attention, have a friend check up on them or consider adopting another pet to keep them company. And be sure to give them a lot of attention while you are at home!
Give your cat environmental enrichment while youre not around with a cat pyramid for your cat to play on. If your cat meows for food at odd times of the day, you can use a Feeder-Robot to feed them automatically. You can also get a self-cleaning Litter-Robot so that they are comfortable in a clean litter box. Once you know whats happening, itll be easier to correct their meowing behavior.
Cover photo by Jae Park on Unsplash
How To Treat A Stressed Cat
Most humans picture of cats as a relaxed pet, always lying on a cushion, bed or sofa, vague and quiet. However, cats are one of the animals that get most easily stressed out. Cats are particularly sensitive to changes in routine and when they feel overwhelmed, the animal may suffer greatly. At OneHowTo.com we teach you how to treat a stressed cat.
The first thing you should know is how to identify a stressed cat and though you may not believe it, there are some very common manifestations that will guide us about the health of our cat and give us some signs. If you think your cat may suffer from stress, do not hesitate to ask for help from your veterinarian.
Common symptoms of cats under stress include:
- Territorial marking, both urine and scratches, sometimes despite being castrated.
- Changes in appetite, from anorexia to binge eating.
- Changes in the fur such as excessive hair loss, balding or even pulling out their fur themselves.
- Elusive character, hiding away and shying away from contact.
- Constant meowing.
- Doing their business outside the litter tray.
Other physical manifestations of stressed cats are various health problems:
- Frequent diarrhea.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Treat a Stressed Cat, we recommend you visit our Pets category.
You May Like: How Do I Know If I Have Stress Or 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.