It’s Not Easy Being a Cat: Cats and Stress

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May 11, 2010
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Cats sleep anywhere from 12 to 18 hours a day broken up into several naps throughout the day. Some of that time is really just lying around with their eyes closed but not fully asleep and some of it is deep sleep where you may hear your cat “snore” and dream.

But cats, as relaxed, cool, and curious as they may be, they do not adapt well to change. They are hyper sensitive to their environment and become easily anxious and stressed when their home, territory, or family changes in some way. There are different types of stress such as external and emotional.

Some causes of external stress for cats are:

1: New family member – baby, puppy, kitten, fish, or grandma moving in can stress your cat out. Your cat may suddenly become frustrated and act aggressive or withdraw. Some cats may stop using the litter box as a way to tell you they are unhappy.

2: Moving – moving to a new apt or house scares cats. It’s a new place, new noises, smells, and lots of hustling in the days before and after. When moving out put your cat in a separate room as the furniture and movers take your stuff. When you go the new home, let your cat acclimate himself in one room and make sure he has some familiar things around him such as his food bowls, bed, toys, and litter box. When it’s quiet, go in and spend a little time with him.

3: New routine – a new job or change in schedule can mean new routines and that can throw a cat off. Make sure your cat still gets some play time and affection when you come home at the end of your work day. It’ll help relieve the anxiety that you might not be coming back.

4: Loud parties – noises can scare cats. Give you cat a safe space, one room where no guests can go, so your cat can hide and feel safe. Try to not host parties that are totally nuts often and afterwards during the hangover and cleanup, spend some time relaxing with your cat.

5: Seeing cats in the yard – cats love to perch in windows and watch the world go by but if they see a strange cat they can become extremely worked up and stressed out. This is because they cannot get outside to defend their territory. In some case, the cat may run into the window or glass doors and hurt himself. In other cases, your cat may redirect its frustration and scratch you or someone in the house.

Emotional stressors are:

1: Death of a family member – be it a pet or a person, cats will notice the absence of the individual and will feel loss. They may mew and hunt around for the missing family member or become more needy and desire more attention.

2: Panic – If a cat feels trapped he may panic. If a cat feels unsafe he may panic. Anything that induces a feeling of fear can cause huge amounts of stress in a cat. Some examples are thunderstorms, fireworks, the vacuum, and sometimes your friend’s toddler who wants to hug and squeeze your cat and “call him George.”

3: Jealousy – this can happen with the introduction of a new cat, new baby, or new person you are dating. Your cat will work it out eventually and if your significant other spends a little time with your cat and plays with him or feeds him, this will often reduce any chances of behavior issues.

There are many reasons cats can feel frustration and stress. These were a few of the more common things cats experience that make them unhappy. They may change how they relate to you and become more needy or less, may spend time hiding out more, or may stop using the litter box. Some cats will stop eating while others may overeat. Cats are varied in how they deal with stress like us.

There are natural remedies like herbs, flower essences, and homeopathic remedies that can help reduce the anxiety and stress your cat is feeling.

1: Love MyPet Stress Relief – this is an herbal formula that can be mixed in water. Your cat may not like it and might avoid drinking that water so be sure to keep a separate bowl nearby. You may try mixing a few drops in some wet food if your cat is hyper sensitive to tainted water like my cats.

2: HomeoPet Anxiety – this is also herbal based and registered with the FDA. You can administer drops directly into your pet’s mouth or in their water. There are no long-term side effects but your pet might drool or shake their head because of the taste, which you can chase with milk or a treat.

3: Farnam Feliway Plugin – It’s like a scented plugin that you might use to make your house smell nice but this one is for cats. It uses synthesized feline pheromones to help cats feel calmer. It’s odorless to humans and mimics a cat’s facial pheromones to draw out a calming feeling in your stressed out cat.

If you find that these natural remedies aren’t working with your cat, then talk to your vet to see if you may need to give your cat a prescription medication. Also, try to find out what new element or change might be causing the stress and if you can change it or reduce its impact on your cat, give it a shot. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Courtesy of Evapro

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