Yes, when our cat is not happy, we are not happy. Some cats seem totally immune to stress but there are cats who get easily stressed. As a furparent, it is hard for us to see our cat suffering.
There are various stressors for cats. “Environmental changes, a new diet, the introduction of a new pet, or a visit from the relatives could all cause a flare up of stress. Your cat’s stress can manifest itself in several ways, some of which are not only mentally troubling but physically harmful to your cat,” said Mallory Crusta in “Natural Calming Remedies for Cats – Stress Relief for Cats” in the Wilderness Cat website.
Signs of stress in cats
It is not easy to identify if a behavorial or personality change in a cat is due to stress or a health issue, said Crusta.
Below are signs of stress which are also common symptoms of other issues “…so keep a close eye on your cat in order to rule out any more dangerous ailments. Ask yourself whether these symptoms started along with some change in your cat’s life. The introduction of a new pet, family member, or a change of location will usually coincide with the onset of your cat’s behavioral changes,” said Crusta. Consult your vet always to rule out health issues.
§ Hiding. If your cat used to be friendly but suddenly hides, your cat may be stressed out. Oftentimes, a stressed out cat wants to be alone all the time.
§ Inappropriate urination. If your cat relieves himself outside the litterbox, it may be due to stress if the vet has ruled out FLUTD in your cat after having him or her tested.
§ Decreased appetite. If your cat used to be enthusiastic about food, then suddenly lost interest, he or she may be under a lot of stress. A decreased appetite is common in stressed out cats. But please have your cat checked and make sure illnesses have been ruled out. It is also important that the vet provides an appetite stimulant during this time if he or she sees that your cat needs it.
§ Excessive grooming. Your cat licks herself too much out of stress that she loses hair.
§ Aggression. A cat who is stressed out cat can become aggressive or defensive – or both.
These symptoms may also be due to an illness, and not just stress, Crusta said. Thus it is important to have your cat tested by a vet to rule out an illness.
“Overly taxing situations can lead not only to mental distress but physical distress as well. When stress hits hard, your cat may even lose weight or groom themselves bald. It’s important to manage your cat’s stress levels as much as possible in order to keep them healthy,” Crusta said.
Natural calming remedies for cats
1. Remove or lessen the effect of stressors
Identify the stressors. Remove the stressors if you can, or lessen the effect or its presence in the cat’s environment.
2. If your cat is stressed out by a new pet:
§ Provide high perches. From this point, your cat can watch the new pet at a safe distance. This will give your cat a sense of dominance over the situation, which is soothing for an anxious cat.
§ Separate the cats and introduce them gradually. “The pets can get introduced through interacting from opposite sides of a closed door. Eventually, they may begin to interact face-to-face, but a gentle introduction can help both parties stay calm,” Crusta said.
3. If your cat is stressed out by a new baby:
§ Prepare your cat before the arrival of a new baby. “Ideally, you can prepare your cat for the change by introducing them to the sounds, sights, and smells of a new baby before the infant is born,” Crusta said.
§ “If the baby has already been born and your cat is stressed out, try to maintain some degree of routine and normalcy in your cat’s life. Make sure that daily routines remain the same as they were before the baby came along,” Crusta added.
4. If your cat is stressed out by guests:
§ Create a space that is calming for your cat so that they can get away from the commotion. “This may be a quiet closet filled with your cat’s favorite bedding or a closed-off room with their litter box and water dish in it,” Crusta said.
5. If your cat is stressed out by a move:
§ Routine will somehow make your cat believe that nothing has changed. “Although the stress of a major move affects everyone in the home, it’s important to maintain the old routine. A well-used bed, regular mealtimes, and some peace and quiet will help your cat to cope with the new changes,” Crusta said.
Catnip is calming for cats. “Catnip creates a calming response when it comes in contact with your cat’s smell receptors,” Crusta said.
“You probably know that catnip often makes cats excitable, but it can also help them to relax. Use a catnip spray, fresh leaves, or dry catnip in your cat’s favorite areas to create a fun and calming environment. Whether your cat is stressed over a car trip or a new family member, catnip can help to soothe them,” Crusta added.
Preventing Stress in Cats
It is impossible to completely remove all stressors. But by exposing your cat to a varied, stimulating life early on, your cat can deal with change better.
“With an expanded worldview and a stimulating adventurous lifestyle, cats who go for adventures are better prepared to deal with new things: trips in the car, meeting new people, and changes in the environment. Just as a rich life full of varied experiences helps to make people calmer and more ready to deal with new experiences – and new faces, a stimulating lifestyle can help cats handle these potentially stressful situations as well. Reduced stress levels is one of the reasons why we recommend walking your cat outdoors," Crusta said.
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