Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is Your Cat Stressed Out?

Is your cat stressed out? Domestic cats have evolved in such a way that  they handle short term stress very well, but have a much harder time dealing with chronic or "long- term" stress. Their ability to cope with stress can be influenced by their genetics or by environmental factors and learned behaviors.

Signs of Acute Stress
  • Immobility
  • Body – crouched directly on top of all fours, shaking and tail close to the body
  • Belly – not exposed, rapid breathing
  • Head – lower than the body, motionless and whiskers back
  • Eyes – fully open and pupils fully dilated
  • Ears – fully flattened back on the head
  • Hissing, growling, shaking, drooling
  • Involuntary urination, defecation
  • Aggression if approached
Signs of Chronic Stress (will be over a longer period of time and the signs may be more subtle)
  • Inhibition of feeding, grooming, urination & defecation or over-eating (dependent on personality type)
  • Increased resting or ‘feigned’ sleep
  • Increased dependency or social withdrawal (hiding)
  • Defensive aggression towards people/cats. (may also  be redirected aggression)
  • Extreme vigilance and heightened startle response (jumping at the slightest noise)
  • Changes in general patterns of behavior (spending significantly more time indoors, not interested in playing, over grooming, etc)
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation and/or urine spraying indoors
  • Increased facial rubbing, scratching on surfaces
Bottom line-Cats DO NOT like changes! Whether it is a change in your family’s schedule,  a new pet coming into the home, a loss of a pet companion or even rearranging the furniture can cause stress. If your cat is sick, this can make them feel vulnerable and anxious.  Older cats will be even more prone to the effects of stress. Cats that are stressed might exhibit behavioral changes (such as missing the litter box) or stress related health issues.

One health issue, thought to be caused from stress (stress does lower immune function) is frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). Some cats may be diagnosed with urinary crystals, stones or infection, but in most cases a cause will not be identified. Be aware of the signs of urinary tract disease so they can be evaluated quickly (by your veterinarian)
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Blood in the urine
  • Abnormal, frequent passage of urine
  • Urinating in inappropriate locations
  • Blockage of urine flow through the urethra to outside the body
Fortunately, holistic care can help. Here is an indepth article  " 3 Steps of Cat & Dog Urinary Tract Infection Treatment"  If your pet suffers from stress induced UTIs the best holistic supplements to add  are Psystabil, Pet UTI Prevention, Akutur, and Power Probiotic for Pets Pet owners have had great results using these products and many kitties really do seem to feel a lot more comfortable on a daily basis!