Seeing your cat scared or stressed is something none of us want to experience. After all, we all want our pets to be happy. The truth is, however, that cats can become anxious and stressed like us. This can be because of numerous reasons from unfamiliar surroundings to unexpected loud noises.
The key is to recognize the signs of when your cat is stressed and how to prevent and manage a stressed cat. Cats are far more sensitive to their surroundings than humans. We all know how loud bangs, such as fireworks, can upset dogs, but they can also upset cats due to their ultra sensitive hearing.
Even unfamiliar visitors to your house can make a cat anxious. The good news is that there are ways to help de-stress your furry friend and ease their anxieties. Finding the cause of a cat’s stress can be challenging, just as trying to calm them can be.
But, it is important to help them as ongoing stress can lead to illnesses and your cat’s fears may worsen over time. Today, we have gathered research and helpful tips on how you can calm your cat, whether they have a phobia of something in particular or if it is more generalized. We will discuss behavioral changes to look out for so you can identify whether your cat is stressed or not.
What Causes Stress In Cats?
It is important that you identify the possible causes of stress in cats. In truth, your cat may be more prone to stress than others. This is usually down to genetics but, in many cases, environmental factors can also cause anxiety. For instance, not enough socialization at a young age can affect some cats greatly.
More often than not, simply taking your cat away from home, such as a visit to the vets, can cause acute stress. This is usually evident with the cat being overly upset. However, these effects should not be long-lasting because the cat will have time to settle back home soon afterward in most circumstances.
Even when a cat is at home, they can still become stressed, especially if they encounter another cat outside that they do not know or get on with. In fact, one of the leading causes of stress for cats is the presence of other cats.
Of course, many of us have more than one cat at home, and this is great as long as we have the necessary resources to care for them all and they all get on with one another. But, sharing can stress out cats. This includes sharing their litter trays, food and water bowls, or even resting places. Over time, this can lead to chronic stress.
Other animals can also cause stress, such as dogs. If you bring a new puppy into the home, your cat may not like this change and find it difficult to live with. It’s not just dogs and cats, though. Humans can also have an ill-effect on a cat’s mental health.
For instance, trying to stroke a cat, make a fuss of them, or picking them up can upset them, especially if they don’t want any attention (we know what some cats are like). Also, new babies or small children can cause stress in cats, especially when a baby is crying and requires their parent’s attention most of the time.
Most cats like routine and their personal space. If this changes, chronic stress can start to creep in. Therefore, you need to ensure your cat is happy and content in their environment and that their behavioral needs are met every day.
Signs Your Cat Is Stressed
Some cats hide their fear better than others but sometimes, it can be easy to spot when a cat is upset about something. More often than not, you will not see their reaction when something startles or scares them. Instead, you will only see how they react after, such as hiding. Some signs of stress and fear in cats are:
- Running away from you or your home.
- Crouching down low to the ground and lowering their head and freezing in place.
- Hiding away.
- Widening their eyes with big pupils (like circles or ovals).
- Puffing out their fur and arching their back.
- Their ears start to move quickly or flatten close to their head.
- Spitting or hissing.
- They tuck their tail between their legs or move its tip quickly from side to side.
- They start biting or scratching.
- Not using their litter tray as usual.
How To Calm A Stressed Cat?
If your cat is behaving similar to any of the signs above, then you should take action to help ease their stress. If you do not help, they may develop stress cystitis. This can cause blood in the urine and a painful, blocked bladder. If you believe your cat is suffering from this, take them to the vet immediately. Here are some steps to take to calm an anxious cat:
- Give them their own space. Try making a den for them where they can hide or a cozy bed to sit on away from anyone, such as on top of furniture.
- Try sticking to a routine as cats prefer to know what is going to happen next. For instance, feed your cat at the same time every day or set aside some time each day to give them attention.
- Reduce or avoid things that scare them. If this is outdoors, keep them inside for a period of time. If they seem more stressed inside, ensure they can go outside easily when they want to, such as using a cat flap.
- Close your curtains and put the TV on or play music. If there are loud noises outside, such as a storm or fireworks and your cat seems anxious, try blocking the sound with music or the TV. This can help them feel more relaxed and cozy.
- Remain calm as cats can pick up when you’re anxious.
- Use a pheromone plug-in to help your cat feel calm in your home.
- Introduce new things, slowly, such as changes in your home.
Many things can cause stress in a cat but you can take steps to minimize or even avoid such feelings. Nevertheless, you should contact your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist if your cat’s stress worsens over time.