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- How dangerous is stress for cats
- Signs of Stress in Cats
- Reasons of cat’s stress and ways to solve it
- Cat’s stress prevention
- How to calm a cat after stress
Cats are emotional animals with a delicate mental organization, so they suffer from stress more often than other pets. Cats, like people, can be sad, worried, anxious, and depressed.
- What should I do if my cat is stressed?
- How do you know if a cat is depressed?
- What are the causes of stress and how can you support the cat?
- How to calm it down?
We’ve gathered the answers to all of these cat stress questions in our article.
How dangerous is stress for cats
Every cat owner should be able to recognize a stressful condition of his cat and know how to destress your cat.
The fact is that in the wild, members of the feline family are adept at masking signs of pain and stress. This is necessary in order not to become easy prey for predatory animals. Their descendants, domestic cats, have genetically inherited this ability.
Only attentive and loving owners will be able to tell if something is wrong with the cat. It is important to pay attention to all oddities in the cat’s behavior so that you can help the animal as quickly as possible.
A stressed cat becomes emotionally and physically unhealthy. The cat can develop serious, irreversible health problems.
Stress weakens the animal’s immune system, its body becomes vulnerable to various infections and non-infectious diseases. In addition, stress aggravates chronic diseases, and the cat gets sick longer and harder.
Without stress treatment, the pet’s appearance deteriorates: hair becomes dull and falls out, weight loss occurs, and dandruff appears.
Signs of Stress in Cats
Below we will tell you how toif your cat is stressed and what signs you should pay attention to in advance.
- Fluid stools (diarrhea).
- Decreased appetite and vomiting.
- Excessive licking, bald spots on the coat, sores.
- Running nose.
- Consumption of inedible things.
- Drowsiness and sleepiness.
- Gluttony, increased thirst.
- Sudden weight fluctuations (loss, gain).
- The cat goes to the toilet much fewer.
- Deterioration of hair condition.
- Rapid or painful urination, blood in the urine.
Visual behavioral signs
- Any changes in habits.
- The cat rejects the litter box.
- Aggressive behavior toward family members and house guests.
- Excessive meowing.
- Aggression toward other pets.
- The cat becomes unnecessarily obtrusive, constantly demanding interaction.
- The animal refuses to interact with the owner.
- Alertness, sharp reaction to loud noises and sudden movements.
- The cat is sad, unresponsive to what’s going on around it.
- The cat hides in remote places, doesn’t answer his owner’s voice.
- Refusal to go outside ( for animals allowed out into the yard).
- Refusal to play ( for playful pets).
- The cat huddles on the floor and looks tense.
Other cat stress symptoms
- The cat stares for a long time at one point, his gaze is unfocused.
- Ears rotate backwards.
- Skin twitching on the back.
- More frequent swallowing of food.
- The cat shakes its head.
Most signs of stress in cats are similar to the symptoms of other pathologies. It is necessary to show the cat to a veterinarian so that you can rule out the presence of any disease of the cat.
Reasons of cat’s stress and ways to solve it
Cats can become stressed out by many factors. Let’s take a closer look at the most common causes of feline stress and talk about how to help pets in each case.
Cats can experience separation anxiety. Over the years, animals have become so adapted to living together with humans that they may experience separation anxiety.
Stress manifests itself differently for every pet. Some spoil furniture, tear up wallpaper, and go toileting in the wrong places. Other pets chew on wires and overturn flower pots. All of this destructive behavior is the result of panic.
When left alone, cats worry about running out of food and water. Cats may be frightened by the noise of a car outside their window, barking dogs from the entryway, the doorbell and other unexpected loud noises. Without a human, cats feel insecure and fear that the owner may not return or may come back too late.
How to help a cat cope with separation anxiety:
- Gradual increase in the separation time. The cat should understand that the owner always comes back, so it won’t panic about it. Short, gradually increasing exposure to the stressor will train the cat not to be afraid of being separated from its owner. Start small, go out for five minutes to get the mail or take out the trash. Next time, go to the nearest store to get bread for 10-15 minutes. When you return, cuddle and talk to your pet each time.
- Turn an unpleasant moment into a pleasant event. When you leave the house for short intervals, give the cat a favorite treat. When you come back, give the animal a tasty treat again. With kittens and young cats, a different method works. Instead of a tasty treat, leave them a favorite toy. When you return home, give the cat a favorite treat, and hide the toy until the next separation. The animal will get used to the fact that the favorite toy appears when the person leaves, and will happily wait for this.
Stress due to unreasonable expectations
Depression can develop because some of the cat’s hopes and expectations cannot be realized or are not realized in the desired way. Because of this, cats are depressed, they are in a constant state of tension and anxiety. All this leads to a destructive behavior pattern.
This stress is the result of inconsistent human behavior. It happens when the owner forbids the cat to do things that he used to allow. For example, sleeping in the same bed, jumping on the table or window sill, entering the children’s room or the bathroom. In such situations, the animal is perplexed, thinking that it is being punished, but does not understand why.
How to help your cat:
- Consistency in all actions. If it is forbidden to sleep in the bed, then all members of the family must forbid it. It should not be the case that someone allows the cat and someone chases the pet out of the bedroom.
- Smooth completion of the game. The playful pet is eager to continue the fun pastime. If you need to stop the game, distract the cat, smoothly switch its attention to something interesting.
- Don’t tease a cat with something that can’t be caught. Cats are hunters. They care not only about the process, but also about the result. Chasing a sun bunny and a laser pointer beam, they do not fully realize their instincts. Use fishing rods, balls, and other toys.
- Listen to the cats’ needs. If a family member with a cat allergy comes into the household, place cat layers outside the bed, so that the pet can observe the owners. Take care of cat doors so that the pet can get in and out of the house and into areas where the litter box is located without any difficulties.
Stress from being in a closed space
If for some reason pets are put in a confined space (cage) for an extended period of time, this can cause stress. This condition is often experienced by pets that are placed in an animal shelter or quarantined. In a crowded and unfamiliar environment, the cat loses interest in life and its instincts become dulled. This can cause various illnesses.
How to help:
- Communication. Animals need communication with humans and physical contact.
- Walks. Take your pet outside on a leash or harness.
- Fresh air. Ventilate the room more often.
- A variety of toys. Make sure the cat has something to play with.
- Soft music. Some animal shelters’ workers turn on classical music.
The stress of relocation
Cats are domestic animals. They get used to their surroundings and environment. Moving a cat from one home to another, as well as the turmoil that is inevitable when moving is always stressful for the cat.
How to help your cat:
- Keep the cat in an enclosed room while you pack up your old apartment property and re-pack it for the move. This room should have all the cat’s favorite things: a cot, a litter box, and toys. To make the cat feel more comfortable, have a member of the household stay with him.
- When you bring the cat to a new home, put him in a closed room. Let the cat stay there while you set up the furniture and arrange things. This room should have everything the cat needs.
Other causes of stress
In addition to the above, cats can be stressed due to many other factors:
- Lack of food and water or competition for key resources with other pets.
- The arrival of strange pets or new pets in the house.
- Forced struggle for territory with congeners.
- The arrival of new family members.
- Home renovations.
- Prolonged starvation.
- Contact with toxic substances.
- Too noisy guests.
- Inadequate treatment of an animal.
- Stray animals (cats and dogs) invading the yard.
- Visiting the vet and grooming salon.
- Death of a family member.
- Operations (castration, spaying).
- Severe illness of the animal.
- Being jealous.
The owner should find the cause of the cat’s stress and if possible eliminate it, this will reduce the suffering of the cat.
Cat’s stress prevention
The best way to prevent stress in cats is to anticipate the source of stress and eliminate it before the cat becomes nervous. This can be done if you know all the factors that irritate the cat.
If the cause cannot be eliminated, you need to prepare the animal with special drugs that the veterinarian will advise. For example, you can give the cat a sedative immediately after moving in. It is not out of place to take them before the scheduled visit to the veterinarian.
How to calm a cat after stress
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, you need to help the cat cope with the stress.
The owner’s algorithm of action should be as follows:
- Find and eliminate the cause of stress.
- Switch the cat’s attention away from the stressor with play, favorite toys, treats, petting.
- Offer physical activity. Cat sports playgrounds or a walk in the fresh air can help. Physical activity is effective in distracting and entertaining the cat. However, care must be taken to ensure that the physical activity is commensurate with the age and condition of the cat. Overexertion puts additional stress for the cat’s nervous system.
- Pay a lot of attention to the cat. Stroke your pet, talk to him affectionately, scratch behind his ears. Do anything that he likes and is relaxed about.
- Use aromatherapy. The scent of bergamot, peppermint and lavender has a sedative effect on cats, it will help calm the cat after stress.
- Adjust the cat’s diet. After stress, cats benefit from fish oil, sea fish, olive oil.
What to give your cat to treat stress
All sedatives to help relieve stress of the cat should be prescribed by a veterinarian. Do not self-medicate, so as not to aggravate the situation and increase the stress condition. Below we will talk about what you can give your cat to relieve stress.
Types of sedatives:
Stress medications for cats:
- Rescue Remedy® is a Bach Flower Remedy that contains five flower essences intended to relieve panic following emotional or physical stress.
- Feliway® is a synthetic pheromone that has been specifically developed for use in cats.
- A Thundershirt or other body wrap, which provides comfort by mimicking swaddling.
- Supplements, such as L-theanine, Zylkene (hydrolyzed milk protein), or other calming formulations for felines.
- Catnip. Every cat reacts differently to catnip. For some kitties, they will be very playful at first, then get tired after running around. This “post-catnip crash” may be an ideal time for travel, grooming, etc.