Similar to humans, cats are susceptible to experiencing stress. However, determining if your cat feels unsettled can be challenging.
What to do if your cat exhibits these signs of stress?
Cats exhibit subtle body language; therefore, observing them to ensure their happiness closely is essential.
If you observe any signs of cat stress or a change in their behavior, scheduling a visit to the vet is essential as the first step. This will allow the vet to rule out any medical causes for your cat’s change in behavior.
If your feline is experiencing stress, here are our top five tips for reducing it. Following these tips can help ensure that your feline remains calm and relaxed.
Cats can be silent sufferers. They can hide their stress until it kind of explodes into something that’s obvious to people.
MIKEL DELGADO, FELINE MINDS CAT BEHAVIOR CONSULTING
Cat stress symptoms
- increasing one’s unwillingness or hiding more than normal
- losing patience with people
- hesitating or showing resistance when using the litter box, opening the cat flap, or sitting on your lap.
- overeating, drinking less, or both
- the furnishings being scratched
- excessive chittering
- the hissing or snarling
- stooping and displaying tension
- excessive gagging or licking of the nose
- nausea or diarrhea
- sleep disruption
- circling, pacing, or agitation
- a matted or untidy coat
- domestic soiling
Assisting in Alleviating Your Cat’s Anxiety
Ensure that your cat has all the necessary items and provisions.
It may seem common sense, but providing your feline with essential items such as a litter tray, food and water bowls, and a scratching post can significantly alleviate stress.
The placement of these items can also significantly affect your cat’s stress levels. Keeping litter trays separate from eating areas to maintain cleanliness is advisable.
Additionally, it is essential to ensure that your cat’s resources, such as food and water bowls, are placed in a quiet and less crowded area.
Please give your kitty some space.
Cats are solitary creatures, meaning they prefer not to be surrounded by others. This includes other cats, pets, and even children or family members.
A good way to reduce your cat’s stress is to ensure they always have space to escape from chaotic situations. An ideal location would be a quiet spot, preferably elevated. Place a cardboard box on a sturdy shelf, or get your kitten’s soft and comfy bed.
Please avoid handling them if they are not interested.
While many cats enjoy being stroked for extended periods, others prefer to be left alone and enjoy their own company. Certain cats may readily express their unhappiness, while others may exhibit more subtle behaviors.
Observing their body language is important, ensuring they can move away from you whenever desired.
Please take measures to prevent cat intruders.
Dealing with a stressed cat can be challenging, especially when the cause is a neighborhood feline invading their space or garden. If you know the cat’s owner and have a good relationship with them, you could consider having a friendly conversation.
I suggest implementing a “share the space” approach by allowing the cats to explore the outdoors at different times. To provide your kitty with everything they need in their territory and potentially minimize competition with other local cats, ensure they have ample indoor and outdoor resources.
This includes providing them with designated areas for toileting, elevated climbing spaces, and access to water sources.
Having an entry point to the house that can only be accessed by your cat, such as a microchip-activated cat flap, is especially crucial to prevent intruders.
Assist them in effectively managing changes proactively.
Cats are known for being creatures of habit. They value routine highly, and any disruptions to it can cause them to feel stressed.
Whether you are preparing to move to a new house, undergoing construction work, or expecting a new baby, preparing your cat for these changes is essential to minimize the risk of stress.
Engaging in Playtime to Reduce Stress
Playtime serves a purpose beyond mere enjoyment and physical activity. Engaging in playtime triggers the release of beneficial brain chemicals in cats, contributing to their overall well-being.
Additionally, it fosters the development of positive associations between cats and their environment, as well as the people in their lives. Engaging in playtime is beneficial for reducing stress daily and during heightened stress.
Make sure to engage in daily interactive playtime with your feline and create fun activities for them to enjoy when you’re not at home.
You can provide puzzle feeders, tunnels, and other engaging activities to keep your kitty stimulated. Bring exciting pet-friendly toys for your kitten from PetSmart. To know more about PetSmart, you can read our article.
Life Transitions That Are Less Stressful
Cats are known for their predictable routines, but unfortunately, life is filled with unexpected changes. While specific changes may occur suddenly and cannot be avoided, it is best to acclimate your feline to it gradually if you are aware of an upcoming change.
Whether it’s the arrival of a new baby, a new cat, or any other disruption to his routine, take it slow and allow him to take small steps as he adjusts.
Your kitty will truly appreciate the additional effort made to assist him in navigating life’s unexpected challenges.
Achieving Consistency in Cat Training
To reduce stress, ensure everyone in the family is aligned and consistent with training. For instance, when one family member prohibits a kitty from being on the table while another allows it, it creates a confusing and stressful mixed message. Train your pet using kindness and consistency.
Taking care of your cat’s health is essential.
It is important not to neglect annual veterinary wellness visits. Detecting a potential medical problem in its early stages significantly improves the chances of successful treatment and ongoing management.
Additionally, it is important to maintain at-home health routines, which include practicing good nutrition, ensuring proper parasite control, prioritizing dental care, maintaining regular grooming, and attending to nail care.
The health consequences of stress in cats.
A kitty experiencing stress is more likely to develop health problems, as stress is often linked to a weakened immune system. The article discussed several examples of health issues that can be caused by stress.
- Stress often triggers the reactivation of herpes virus infections. Cats that are affected will exhibit upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nose.
- Episodes of feline interstitial cystitis (FIC), an inflammatory condition affecting the bladder, frequently happen after a stressful event, like introducing a pet sitter or a new cat.
- Stress can exacerbate the symptoms of skin diseases. This statement holds especially true for cats that have skin allergies.
- Stress has been linked to various gastrointestinal problems, which can cause symptoms like decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The behavioral consequences of stress in cats.
Experiencing stress can lead to various behavioral changes that can hurt a cat’s overall well-being. Regrettably, these changes often lead to cats being abandoned or euthanized. The most frequently observed behavioral abnormalities that can occur as a result of stress include:
- Having less to eat
- Change in grooming habits
- Playing less
- Exploring less
- She has less scarring on her face because she doesn’t rub her face against things in her surroundings, including her favorite people.
- fewer good things to say about other cats and people
- More vocalization
- This includes releasing urine and going to the bathroom inside but not in the litter box.
- Aggressive habits
- Behaviors like over-grooming or eating things that aren’t food (plastic, rubber bands, cloth, etc.) can be signs of OCD.
Controlling fights between cats to make cats less stressed
The story talks about a multi-step plan to reduce stress caused by fights between cats who live in the same house. These are the steps:
Complete separation: The cats have their own food bowls, water bowls, litter boxes, and toys, and they live in different parts of the house.
Getting used to smells: The places are switched around so each cat can smell the other.
Visual habituation: The cats are kept apart but can see each other through a mesh door or screen.
Habituation through direct contact: The cats can get close to each other.
Adding things to a cat’s environment can help lower stress.
We stress the importance of giving each feline enough room and resources (like food, water, places to rest, toys, and litter boxes). The following are some other ways to deal with stress:
- By putting up feline trees, shelves, and platforms, the feline can explore areas up and down and side to side.
- Giving cats fun places to hide
- Changing toys often to keep kids interested and curious
- Providing toys that move and look like small prey
- Putting treats in the landscape
Chemicals can help cats deal with stress.
We talk briefly about some chemical ways to deal with stress, such as drugs, pheromones, and aromatherapy. If you are thinking about any of these choices, it is important to talk to your vet.
No matter what you do to make your feline feel better, if you think he or she is stressed out, I think you should talk to your vet. It’s important to rule out a medical problem because signs and behaviors caused by disease and those caused by stress can look the same.