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Anxiety in cats, as in humans, can damage their well-being and health. A cat that is under stress can start showing behavioural problems, health issues, and may even lash out at the most loving of owners.
But first, let’s look at some of the signs of anxiety in cats that you might not know yet:
Signs of Stress and Anxiety in Cats
Cats suffering from anxiety and stress are actually very good at hiding it, but the most common signs include the following:
- Urinating outside of the litter box
- Digestive issues, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Excessive scratching and grooming
- Vocalization changes
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping
- Aggression towards animals and people
Although these are the common signs of stress and anxiety, they can be brought on by other medical conditions, so make sure that your cat has a veterinary check-up to rule out any underlying causes.
Much like children, you know your cat better than anyone, so if they seem a bit ‘off’ it’s worth getting them checked out.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Cats
Once possible medical issues are ruled out, you can focus on alleviating and eliminating stress and anxiety in your cat. The best way to do so is to determine what caused stress.
#1 Changes in their environment are the most common stress and anxiety trigger.
This can range from even the slightest changes, like new furniture, to big life events like having a baby or moving to a new home. Usually, the bigger the changes, the higher the likelihood your cat will be under some stress or suffer anxiety. This largely depends on the animal too; some handle most changes easily, while other react to almost anything, even guests.
#2 One great way to alleviate anxiety in cats is to use Feliway.
Feliway imitates the facial pheromone cats use to mark areas safe and secure. The synthetic copy helps by creating a sense of comfort and safety in your home. There are several different sets available, with the Feliway Classic being aimed at cats that tend to stray, scratch, and hide, and Feliway Friends at cats prone to fighting and other conflicts. It’s available as a spray or diffuser.
#3 High places are another thing cats love and will reduce anxiety in cats.
It’s their safety spot, where they have control over the whole situation and nothing can get to them. Make sure your cat has at least one of these spots, or several of them.
Note: They don’t necessarily have to be high places; designated areas for your cat only are another possible solution.
#4 Avoid High traffic areas
Cats prefer not to be disturbed while eating or using the litter tray, so make sure that their litter tray and food and water bowls are not placed in high-traffic areas. A secluded spot is the best option for both. Make sure the litter is always clean and it must be changed frequently.
Make sure to avoid scented litters as well, since these might not only increase stress because kitty noses are much better than ours; they might also cause issues because of the chemicals.
#5 Set Boundaries with small humans
Cats can experience anxiety and stress if they are often disturbed. If you have kids, it’s very important that you set boundaries and explain to your kids that they should not upset the kitty by disturbing their sleep, chasing them around, and so on.
#6 Designate time for you and your cat
Also make sure that you actively spend some time with your cat. They are far more independent than dogs, but they love and enjoy company, especially if they are strict indoor kitties. Have a designated petting and grooming time, play time, and make sure to establish a good feeding routine, so the cat isn’t distressed about empty bowls.
Do not ignore your cat if they have a hard time adjusting to any changes. Help your kitty deal with the changes by making the experience as stress-free as possible. Positive correlation is the best way to do this, so extra treats and petting will help a lot.
#7 Keep the familiar
Also make sure to avoid washing all their blankets when you move; they will need familiar smells, so keep a few and build a designated area where they can hide among familiar smells to adjust quicker.
To sum it up…
Remember to check with your cat’s vet before doing anything on your own, as stress is often an indicator of an underlying condition. If stress is caused by a medical issue, the above options won’t help until the medical issue is solved.