HOW TO RECOGNIZE AND REDUCE STRESS IN YOUR CAT
It’s the rare cat who faces stressful events with barely a twitch of the whiskers. Even the most confident, laid-back felines inevitably have moments where they shoot under the bed and refuse to come out.
This skittish behavior can have roots in a lack of early socialization or bad experiences. But it’s also been handed down to today’s kitties from their wild ancestors. As a species, cats are not only predators, but prey. So thousands of years of evolution have taught them to keep their guard up, just in case.
Of course, your kitty probably has to worry more about the vacuum cleaner than a wild animal. But that doesn’t mean that the stress, anxiety and fear she feels is any less real. In fact, it’s a neuro-chemical reaction that takes place in the brain, bringing about the well-known fight or flight response. Since stress can affect your cat’s mental and physical wellbeing, it’s important to take steps to alleviate her anxiety.
A number of things can cause your cat stress, but change is at the heart of most of them. Houseguests, separation from you, moving to a new home, visits to the vet, a new dog, cat or kid in the family – these can all send kitty’s anxiety level sky-high.
The first step in helping your cat is learning to recognize the subtle and not so subtle signs of stress, including:
- Large pupils
- Compulsive grooming
- Excessive vocalization
- Eliminating outside the litter box
- Not eating
- Vomiting or diarrhea
Of course, the best strategy is to anticipate stressful events and make a plan for keeping kitty calm. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Create a Cat-Only Zone
Offer Escape Routes
Do Some CAT-isthenics
Get Set for the Vet
Planning a party? Having work done to your home? Expecting houseguests? Give your cat a safe, quiet, calm place to hide away, preferably in a favorite area of your home. Ask others not to disturb kitty in her sanctuary.
If your cat hates to be shut up in one room, or it’s just not feasible in your situation, make sure she has an out-of-the-fray way to navigate around your home. Never block the path from, say, your bedroom to the litter box … or you may end up with an unpleasant surprise.
Pent-up energy can fuel anxiety, so playing with your cat is a great way to help her burn off stress. Pull an enticing toy along the floor or flip it into the air, move your hands under a sheet so she can attack the “bed rat,” or offer her an automated cat toy. Hopefully, she’ll be so pleasantly tired that she’ll snooze through the whole event.
One mistake pet parents sometimes make is thinking that their cat just needs more exposure to “get over” their fears. This approach almost
never works and can erode your kitty’s trust in you. If she prefers to stay hidden, respect her wishes. But if she happens to venture out,
reward her bravery with lots of treats and praise.
Regular vet visits are important to keep your cat healthy and happy. But most of us – both feline and human – dread these annual trips. Reduce stress by making the carrier a safe, familiar place. Leave it out in a favorite room and make it comfy with soft bedding and catnip spray.
Products You Might Like
World's Best Cat Litter Picky Cat
This litter formula is perfect for newly adopted cats, kittens, senior cats or any fussy feline!
World's Best Cat Litter Zero Mess
This litter comes with a special blend of super-absorbent plant fibers that quickly trap liquids in tight clumps, so you don’t have to chisel and scrape the box.
*Editorial content sourced from https://www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/ *