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Stressed Out Cat? Decoding and Fixing the Problem Behind Cat Stress

Posted by Alicia Compton on

My personal opinion is that cats are a lot like toddlers. But, at the same time, have somewhat the mentality of a teenager. Sometimes it can be hard to decode if your cat is going through a “phase”. As a cat owner, there have been many times I have confused my cat’s stress with unruly teenage behavior.

It is kind of funny how behavior and medical conditions have a lot in common. With medical conditions, symptoms can be the same for many different conditions. So, it requires a lot of tests to find out the true underlying problem. In a way, the same goes for separating behavior problems caused by a problem such as stress. While, at the same time, stress can be a result of an underlying medical condition. Do you see what I mean? It kind of just goes hand in hand.

Stress in cats can be triggered by many different factors

Since cats can’t talk, it is up to us to figure out what is going on in their lives. Many times a cat who is in distress will refrain from showing any signs. This goes back to their “primitive life”. You know, before we domesticated them. Well, for the most part, attempted to. In the wild, if you show any sign of weakness you are easy prey. So, in order to prevent being prey for another animal, cats tends to shy away from showing they are uncomfortable. The same goes for dogs.

Symptoms of a Stressed Out Cat

In fact, sometimes the behavior we dismiss as silly kitty behavior may be a way for our cats to tell us something is up. It may be a way for them to tell us they just are NOT comfortable. But, you will need to be able to distinguish between the two. In order to do this, you will need to know the true symptoms of stress in a cat.

Like I said above, not all cats will show symptoms of being stressed. Then again, some cats may only display one symptom. While other cats may have every symptom of stress there is in the book.

Severity of symptoms also vary on a case to case basis. The same goes for how often the cat displays the symptoms. Just like us, each cat is different.

It is important for cat owners to know the signs of stress in a cat

According to Catster, some common symptoms of stress in cats include, but are not limited to:

  • Change in appetite
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Excessive meowing
  • Pulling hair out / over grooming

Other symptoms of stress in cats may include aggressive behavior and unusual hiding. In some cases, a stressed cat may show signs of illness. The cat may vomit. You may notice the cat suffering nausea and/or diarrhea.

All of these are possible symptoms of a stressed cat. But, they can also be symptoms of underlying medical conditions. If any of these symptoms are noticed, the best thing to do is contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. The faster the treatment, the better the prognosis and long term effects are.

What Causes Stress in Cats?

In general, cats are a lot like us. There are a lot of factors that plays into what causes their stress, just like us. For example, a move to a new place can cause us a lot of fear, anxiety, and stress. The same goes for a cat that ends up at a new place. That is why facilities, such as animal shelters, may cause a great deal of stress to our feline friends.

Change is a stress factor for cats.

Cats are not too fond of change either. So, if you bring something new in the house, your cat may get stressed out. It can be something as simple as a piece of furniture. Cats enjoy their routine. They don’t want anyone coming in and messing it up.

Moving to a new place is a major stress factor for cats

Underlying medical conditions may cause stress in cats.

Underlying medical conditions can cause stress on the cat’s body. Which, overall, will cause the cat to stress in general.

Cats may become stressed if they are not able to practice their “natural instincts”.

One sad reality behind the stress of domesticated cats is the lack of opportunity to practice their “natural instinct”. Although they have made your house a home, they still have a bit of a wild side. If they don’t have a way to release that natural energy, they may become stressed. As a result, may leave your home in shambles. If you have ever owned a cat, you know what I am talking about.

Another huge stress trigger for cats is adding another member to the family. This may be a new person or a new furry family member. Regardless, cats are pretty wary of unfamiliar situations. Which, as a result, ends up as a stressed out kitty.

Treating and Preventing Stress in Cats

As humans, if we suspect a possible stressful situation is approaching we attempt to prepare ourselves physically and/or mentally. Unfortunately, some situations can not be avoided. So, we have to do our best to prepare ourselves and our pets for the change.

You can use moving as an example. People move to different homes for many reasons. Sometimes the move is planned, other times it is not. Of course, planning usually makes the situation less stressful. But, cats can usually sense when change is happening. For example, when the suitcases come out. When things around the house begin to disappear. All of these factors can trigger stress in a cat.

Of course, the ideal way to avoid a stressed out cat is just to avoid the situation. But, that isn’t always possible. Instead, it is important that you take steps to make the change a little more enjoyable.

In order to help decrease stress in a situation, always introduce your cat slowly to any new situation.

Due to cat’s spooky behavior, it is always recommended to slowly introduce them to any new situation and/or change. That is one of the reasons why veterinarians recommend that kittens begin visiting the clinic as young as 6 weeks old. The main reason behind this is this appointment is usually for their first set of vaccines. But, starting them young and on a regular basis you allow them to become comfortable familiar with the clinic. As a result, may make veterinary visits not so scary.

Give your cat acceptable and safe opportunities to express his or her “natural instincts”.

Another huge stress trigger in cats is not being able to express their instincts they had before they were domesticated. Prior to us bringing them into our homes, they roamed the wild, hunting prey. Now, of course, they no longer have to hunt for their food. But, sometimes that instinct just comes over them. That is why sometimes cat owners are surprised when their cat brings them a present like a dead lizard or dead mouse.

One way you can help your cat fulfil that prey excitement is by allowing him or her to bird watch. They won’t be able to get to the birds. But, they will be able to enjoy the thrill of the chase while watching them.

A super safe way to let your cat engage in bird watching is by using the PetFusion Tranquility Window Bird Feeder. This bird feeder gives your cat the up close and personal feel of being near the birds. But, without the chance of the cat or bird getting injured. Plus, it has a lot of great features.

Bird watching is a safe alternative way for cats to enjoy some of their "natural instincts"

The PetFusion Tranquility Window Bird Feeder has excellent clarity. Partly in thanks to the UV stabilizer. The UV stabilizer helps the bird feeder remain super clear as the years go on. This bird feeder is also very enticing to birds. So, there is a high chance your cat and you will get the pleasure of viewing all different species of local birds.

Due to its large size, this bird feeder is also able to accommodate a raised roof and 3 rubber perches. This is the perfect setup if multiple birds would like to take a break. Which is even more of a reason why this a great idea for the wild at heart kitty.

Window perches for cats is another great way you can help your cat fulfill his or her outside curiosity. If you are a cat owner, you know how much cats enjoy looking outside. In fact, the higher the better. After all, they are “king of the world”, right? This is why so many cat owners turn to window perches for their feline family members.

Stop your cat from scratching up your furniture. Give him or her an acceptable scratching alternative.

Another way cats show their natural instincts is by scratching. You may think of this behavior as your cat being devious. Especially if he or she just shredded your brand new leather sofa. The truth is, your cat isn’t being devious. They are just doing what they are made to do.

Technically, cats don’t shred things to get back at you. They do it for a way to stretch their paws, a form of exercise. Scratching is also a cat’s way of self grooming his or her nails. Cat scratching posts are often recommended when cats are participating in inappropriate scratching.

The most important thing you want to remember is you are trying to deter your cat away from whatever they are inappropriately scratching. In order to do this, it is often recommended that you place the scratching post near that item. Hopefully, this will entice the cat to use the scratching post instead of the other item.

Enticing a cat to try something new isn’t always the easiest task. That’s why if you can find a scratching option that has it all -- you should grab it! One of those “must grab” options is the PetFusion Modern Cat Activity Tree and Scratching Post. This cat tree and scratching post combo has anything a cat could ever dream for.

Scratching posts are a great way to combat stress in cats

The Pet Fusion Modern Cat Activity Tree and Scratching Post has a 30 inch leap to the top platform. Which is a great feature, because most cats love being up high. It also has a cubby hole. I mean, what cat doesn’t like to hide and take a catnap now and then?! The scratching post is also made of sisal carpet. Which is one of the ideal materials perfect for cat scratching.

If all those cool features weren’t enough, there’s more. This cat activity tree also comes with catnip spray. You can spray it anywhere on the activity tree. Then just sit back and watch your cat flock to its new favorite scratching area. Now you can proudly say you saved the day and your possessions.

You will probably try so many different things in order to try and ease some of the stress in your cat’s life. But, some cats just are down right spooky. In most cases, these cat’s stress levels are OFF the chart. Regardless what steps are made to help make the change easier.

Some cats, unfortunately, may need to be medicated due to stress.

In uncontrollable cases of stress in cats, a veterinarian should definitely step in. Actually, a veterinarian should probably step in before it gets that bad. But, sometimes there is not much you can do. So, in order to control your cat’s stress, the veterinarian may prescribe a sedative to be given during possible stressful events.

Don’t Stress Your Cat -- Stay Calm, Cool, and Collected

Seeing anything we care for in distress is hard. That is why we often get stressed out when our pets are down and out. Unfortunately, our pets pick up on these feelings. As a result, it may make their stress even worse.

As hard as it may be, it is important to stay calm, cool, and collected when your cat is stressed. For the most part, as much as they hate to admit it, cats kind of “feed” off of us. That’s why when we are calm it brings a more calming atmosphere to your cat as well.

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