Saturday, May 4, 2024

Is Your Cat Stressed Out? 3 Tips To Comfort Your Kitty

Unbeknownst to you, your cat might be silently wrestling with stress. Yes, stress can be a real problem for your cat. Cats do not like change! 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.They love a schedule and consistency and anything that disrupts their routine can cause them to become stressed. In their own unique way, they may be trying to tell you that they are stressed, but the signs may go unnoticed. It is important to be vigilant in deciphering their subtle language and recognize the signs of stress. You can then explore the cause and find ways to help them feel better.

Signs Your Cat May Be Stressed Out 

Watch for any of these signs your cat has anxiety or is stressed:

Changes in Behavior: If your cat suddenly becomes more withdrawn or unusually clingy, it could be a sign of stress. If they are spending more time hiding under furniture or in closets than usual, it could also be a sign that something is bothering them. If your cat seems unusually restless, pacing around the house displaying nervous behavior or increased aggression or hostility towards people or other pets may indicate stress. 

Vocalization: Some cats may vocalize more when they're stressed, meowing excessively or making other distress sounds like hissing and growling.

Loss of Appetite or Overeating: Stress can affect a cat's eating habits. Some cats may lose their appetite and eat less, while others may overeat as a coping mechanism.

Litter Box Issues: Changes in litter box behavior, such as urinating or defecating outside the litter box, can be a sign of stress. Your cat might be trying to communicate their discomfort with their environment.

Excessive Grooming or Self-Mutilation: Cats may groom themselves excessively when stressed, leading to hair loss or skin irritation. In severe cases, they may even resort to self-mutilation, such as licking or biting at their skin.

Changes in Sleeping Patterns: Stress can disrupt a cat's normal sleep patterns. They may sleep more than usual or have trouble sleeping, leading to insomnia.

Physical Symptoms: Stress can manifest in physical symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or respiratory problems. If you notice any unusual symptoms, it's essential to consult your veterinarian. They may also show these bodily signs: 

      Immobility - may become immobile, sitting in a fixed posture for long periods of time  

      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 and maybe drooling

      Eyes – fully open and pupils fully dilated

      Ears – fully flattened back on the head

Three Tips To Ease Your Cat's Anxiety and Stress

1. Create a Safe and Comfortable Environment:

  • Provide your cat with a quiet and secluded area where they can retreat to when they feel stressed. This could be a cozy bed in a low-traffic area or a hiding spot such as a covered cat bed or a cardboard box with a blanket inside.
  • Ensure that your cat has access to their essentials such as food, water, litter box, and toys in this safe space.
  • Talk with your vet about using pheromone diffusers or sprays like Feliway, which contain synthetic versions of calming cat pheromones, to help create a calming atmosphere in your home.

2. Implement Relaxation Techniques:

  • Engage in interactive play sessions with your cat using toys such as feather wands or laser pointers. Play can help reduce stress and anxiety by providing mental and physical stimulation.

  • Try gentle grooming sessions with a soft brush or grooming glove. Many cats find grooming relaxing and it can help strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

  • Consider incorporating calming activities such as gentle massage or providing a warm blanket or heated bed for your cat to curl up on.

  • Give Happy Paws Drops a try. Hemp CBD oil for cats can help them relax and feel more emotionally balanced without the side effects of medications. 

3. Establish Routine and Predictability:

  • Cats thrive on routine, so try to maintain a consistent daily schedule for feeding, playtime, and other activities.

  • Minimize sudden changes in your cat's environment whenever possible. If you need to make changes, introduce them gradually to give your cat time to adjust.

  • Provide your cat with plenty of mental stimulation by offering puzzle feeders, interactive toys, or rotating their toys regularly to keep them engaged and prevent boredom.

Author:  Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist
Revised and Updated:  5/4/2024
Originally Published:  5/12/2017