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.
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.
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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Help Your Cat Feel More Confident
Cats may sometimes hide just because they need a cool, dark place to rest.1 But frequent hiding can mean insecurity. Don’t ever try to force your cat out of hiding. Instead, help him feel more confident so he leaves on his own.
A great way to do this is by providing more places that he can “own” as his personal territory. Consider adding cat trees, window perches, comfy beds, and cat condos to your home. Play with your cat more so he feels like he’s hunting, then give him a treat at the end of playtime. This can help him feel like an accomplished hunter and build confidence.
Why Is My Cat Hiding
If your cat is slinking around or hiding under the blanket or furniture, you might find yourself wondering, “Why is my cat hiding so much?” Maybe he only hides when you have visitors over, or maybe he’s skittish all the time. Hiding can be a sign of anxiety and unease from changes in your homeeven changes in the form of one or two people visiting. If you’re wondering how to calm a stressed cat, it all starts with providing an environment that helps your kitty feel more confident.
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Symptoms Of Stress In Cats
See files for Cats
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.
Common Causes Of Hair Loss
Cats may overgroom for many reasons, but itching from allergies, fleas or mites, or even allergies to fleas and mites are some of the most common. In summary, the most common causes of hair loss in cats are as follows:
Environmental things such as dust, grass, pollen, trees, cotton, or wool, or things in food like chicken, or insect bites.
Its actually very common for cats to be allergic to flea bites! This is called Flea Allergy Dermatitis and is one of the most common reasons for hair loss in cats. Cats with this issue can be so allergic that a single flea bite can make them itch and have hair loss for weeks even though you never saw any fleas on them.
Having fleas and mites, even if theyre not allergic to them, can still cause itching and damage to hair and hair follicles, which leads to hair loss. There are several types of mites cats can get, including Mange and Scabies mites.
Stress and Anxiety
Another reason cats commonly over-groom and cause hair loss is stress and anxiety .
Cats love routine, and anything that disrupts routines can be stressful for them. Not all cats get along with other cats or other pets, and that can be a source of stress too. Many cats are predisposed to anxiety and stress, which can lead to excessive grooming and hair loss.
Other Causes of Hair Loss in Cats
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If You Think Your Cat Is Stressed Here Are Some Ways To Help:
- Visit the vet: Sometimes, signs of stress may point to underlying diseases or illnesses. Of course, your cat may also be perfectly healthy, in which case, your vet can provide you with a treatment thats tailored to your cat and his well-being. Either way, its always good peace of mind for you and your cat to get a clean bill of health just in case.
- Remove potential stress triggers: If its difficult to identify what triggers your cats stress, try testing the usual suspects. If your cat is alarmed by unfamiliar guests, create a safe space for him where guests cant intrude. If your cat is alarmed by loud alarms, try to figure out a way to silence your alarm clock or house alarm. Go through these stressful triggers one by one and do your best to eliminate them.
- Exercise and cuddle time: Exercise alleviates stress for cats just as well as it does for humans. Set aside some time to play with your cat for 510 minutes and force her to run around a bit. Also, set aside some time to pet your kitty and give her some love and attention.
- Create a Kitty Spa Bathroom:Provide a large litter box in an easily accessible but private area. Fill the box with 34 inches of your favorite kind of Fresh Step® litter. Scoop the box regularly and change the litter box according to the package directions.
Is There Somewhere Your Cat Can Retreat To
While excessive hiding may be a sign that your kitty is feeling stressed, hiding is a natural behaviour. Its important that your pet has somewhere to go if they need some alone time! This can help them feel calm and secure so its a good idea to make sure that there are some comfy cat-friendly shelves and perches around the house. A climbing tree is also a good idea your cat can retreat up there to observe your home from up high and have some thinking space!
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Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Cats And What To Do About Them
Weve all seen the memes since this COVID-19 pandemic started about dogs who have had enough of you walking them, thank you very much. And in turn, the cat memes are all about them wondering when we are going back to work and giving them their much needed personal space back. We get it. Dogs tend to be goofy and friendly while cats are, ahem, a bit more discerning about their company. The truth is, though, cats have plenty of different personality types, and many of them do experience separation anxiety. This is particularly true of cats who were orphaned. And with many of you going back to work if you havent gone back already, its a good idea to know the signs of separation anxiety in cats.
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.
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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.
Check That Your Cat Is Healthy
It may not be immediately obvious if your kitty is unwell, but if they feel ill, it could be causing them stress. You should take your cat to the vet to rule out any illness, ensure your cat is healthy and not experiencing any pain – especially if they have lost their appetite. A vet visit will be able to reassure you – and help you understand any other causes of kitty stress!
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Surprising Things That Stress Cats Out
A stressed-out cat makes for a stressed-out owner, especially when you cant figure out what exactly is causing your pets anxiety.
Unfortunately, many signs of anxiety in cats only make life harder for you and your pet .
While some cat stressors make perfect sense , others are easy to miss because they simply dont seem like significant sources of stress to pet owners.
If youre wondering whats gotten under your cats skin, read on to learn some of the most unexpected cat stressors you might encounter. Plus, learn how to deal with them to give you and your cat a better life.
Play Nicely And Manage Interactions
Give your visitors your cat’s favorite toy so they can interact in a fun way. Teach children to be gentle while petting, and not to bother your cat while she’s sleeping or eating.
You can minimize the stress of a visiting animal by keeping the two pets in separate parts of the house and not allowing the visiting pet to have access to your cat’s litter box and food and water bowls.
If you’re introducing a new cat or dog that will be living in your home, introduce them slowly. Start by keeping them in separate rooms and feeding them on either side of a closed door.
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Loud Noises Are Not A Cats Best Friend
Cats have sensitive hearing so they may be disturbed by loud noises such as fireworks. They may also find some noisy household appliances stressful or could even be upset if the humans in their life are making too much noise. Consider how you use appliances such as hairdryers, tumble dryers and vacuum cleaners and try not to use these right next to your purrrfect pal.
Dont panic if your cat seems to be a bit stressed try and get to the bottom of whats upsetting them and remove the source if you can. Always speak to your vet and consider seeking a professional behaviour specialist if your cat continues to show signs of stress long-term stress can be emotionally and physically draining for cats. Consider using a FELIWAY CLASSIC Diffuser to create a relaxing environment in your home. Thanks to the happy messages it releases, FELIWAY provides constant comfort to your cat, and can alleviate stress, and help nurture your relationship.
What If I Don’t Think I Can Keep My Cat Any Longer
We know that sometimes peoples circumstances change. Giving up your cat is a really difficult decision and it can help to speak to someone about it. If you can no longer look after your pet, our Rehoming Team is always happy to talk to you about your circumstances. Contact your nearest Blue Cross rehoming centre to talk to one of the team or find out more about giving up a pet.
Page last updated 17/01/2022
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Solutions For Your Cats Stress And Anxiety
There is no one specific solution when a cat shows signs of stress. Removing the source of stress is ideal, but it may be hard for the owner to identify.
For the neighbor’s cat that likes to hang out on your front porch, keep the blinds closed in that room to prevent your cat from seeing it. Consider your cat’s relationship with other pets in the house, and minimize competition with extra feeding bowls and litter boxes in the house. Keep things familiar to your cat if you bought a different brand of litter, and she suddenly won’t use the litter box, go back to what your cat knew and liked.
Environmental enrichment also helps many cats. A cat’s natural behaviors are hunting, exploring, and socializing. When prevented from performing their natural behaviors, a cat’s only options are sleeping, eating, and grooming. Evaluate your cat’s living areas and make sure there are areas for hiding, climbing, scratching, and sleeping. Toys , catnip, kitty grass, and water fountains are all sources of pleasure for many cats and can provide entertainment and distraction from potential stress.
What Does Cat Panting Look And Sound Like
Panting in cats can often look like panting in dogs but it is very rare and should be cause for concern. Panting felines will have their mouths open, the tongue out, and they will be taking rapid, shallow breaths. Most cats lay down in a sternal position when they are panting, and often are agitated or uncomfortable.
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How Do You Relieve A Stressed Cat Or Kitten
It’s not always easy to know how to relieve your cat or kitten that turns out to be stressed. Once your vet has confirmed that it is in fact stress and not an underlying health problem, then it’s up to you to identify the possible causes of the stress.
Sometimes the cause of the stress is obvious, such as a change of home or a new arrival in the family. However, sometimes it can be much harder to find out. It could be down to boredom or perhaps a change in their food which they don’t agree with, even if they’ve accepted many dietary changes beforehand.
Once the origin of the stress has been identified, you can put measures in place to cancel out the cause, or perhaps get treatment from your vet. It could also be worth considering getting dietary supplements or calming pheromones. In worst case scenarios, medical treatment could also be considered.
To reassure a stressed cat, it is important to give them attention. You could, for example, play for longer with them, make new places of rest available , adapt their diet
Most importantly, try not to lose your temper with them if they make a mistake linked to stress. This could exacerbate the situation.
Symptoms Your Cat Is Stressed
Cats often show they are stressed by engaging in destructive behaviors.
A howling cat that meows excessively may be a sign of stress, as can eating less or sleeping more. Excessive grooming and scratching can be stress-induced.
If your cat is acting mean to other animals or even people, it can mean a cat feels insecure. Some cats do the opposite of all these things rather than becoming destructive, they isolate and hide.
In short, a big personality change or destructive habits might indicate stress. However, you should see a veterinarian if your cat is recently acting differently, as a medical reason might also be the cause.
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