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Cat stress is a real thing and important to deal with quickly before it develops into some horrible behaviour and tensions
You may not feel like it given their high levels of sass, but cats are quite sensitive. They are very particular and easily stressed and when they are anxious they give telltale signs that need to be recognised.
Sometimes it can be just as stressful for you when dealing with cat stress because it can lead to bad behaviour such as; toileting on the furniture, scratching and even aggression. It is because of this misunderstanding that many cats are given up because their owners feel like there is nothing they can do. However, don’t despair, finding out the underlying cause of cat stress and anxiety can help you deal with the problem and get rid of it altogether, as well as stopping it from happening in the future.
That means a happy family all around! So here’s what to look for:
The Warning Signs Of Cat Stress
- Excessive grooming
- Fur Loss
- Toileting outside the tray
- Hiding – avoiding
- Skittish behaviour
- Appetite Changes
Excessive grooming – Cats that over-groom are displaying signs of stress and anxiety and this can also be noticed by sudden bald spots over the body.
Fur loss – Excess moulting or the loss of large clumps of fur which can either fall out on their own or because of scratching or rubbing of surfaces or themselves.
Toileting – Spraying, urinating or pooing in areas that they shouldn’t as well as avoiding their litter tray. Sometimes this is done in a prominent place of yours, e.g. the bed as they are making a point or feel comfortable there.
Aggression – Especially sudden lashing out against you or other cats that they are normally fine with! Also, this aggression could be against items or areas that aren’t threatening and can involve hissing, crying, growling or other vocalisation.
Hiding– If your cat doesn’t come home for unusually long periods of time or decides to hide and avoid others. Avoidance, in general, can show high levels of anxiety.
Skittish behaviour – Being easily startled or extra jumpy at noises, people or even seemingly nothing it can show they are particularly on edge.
Appetite changes – Whether that is too much or too little, a change in appetite and eating behaviour can be a big signal something is wrong.
Reasons For Anxiety
- A change in circumstances e.g. moving house or a new baby/pet
- Loud noises e.g. fireworks
- Visitors – especially those who might bother the cat
- Travelling – particularly long distances
- Being away from home e.g. in a cattery or at the vets
- Sudden trauma e.g. accidents
How To Deal With Cat Stress & Anxiety
- Make Gradual Changes – Cats hate change and can often need time to adjust so it is important to make changes gradually. For example, if you are moving the litter tray or their bed, do it in small increments so that it isn’t such a shock to them and stresses them out.
- Natural Remedies – Certain smells and natural products can put your cat at ease and reduce stress. Feliway, for example, is a good product that can help day-to-day and they also have plug-ins and sprays that you can use at stressful times of the year such as bonfire night or Halloween. Have you ever used essential oils or aromatherapy? it’s like that but for cats.
- Provide A Safe Space – An area away from everything that your cat can use to feel safe and comfortable. For example, we keep the top of our bedroom wardrobes free of junk so that the cats can have a safe, high perch and we don’t try to get up there or coax them down. It’s their safe place to avoid cat stress!
- Visit A Professional – Some of the signs of cat stress can also be signs of underlying conditions so seeing a vet is important if they don’t go away or lead to extreme behaviour. Alternatively, consider talking to a professional pet behaviourist who can offer expert tips and advice specific to your pet and situation as they can visit and may be able to quickly diagnose the issue.
- Monitor the family – Particularly children. You may find as children grow up they have begun encroaching on the cat’s space or taking more of an interest. Set certain rules or take the time to explain about giving the cat space. For more info on this check out my Toddlers Vs Cats – Rules for A Happy Home post.
- Extra Cuddles – Sometimes a cat can be stressed if they are feeling unloved and a lot of changes are happening. Take some quiet time to cuddle, give strokes and assess the situation and building the relationship back up with your cat.
Ultimately, cat stress can be a huge problem, especially if left unchecked! Paying attention to the signs, as well as your cat’s behaviour can help have a happy home and avoid any long-term issues.
This post is Day 1 of #CatWeek2017 for the other days check out the Cat Week HomePage.
*It is important to visit the vet if you have any concerns about your cat as many of these signs can also be symptoms of other medical underlying causes.