How do you know if you’ve got a stressed cat?

Posted by Maggie the Moggie. November 23rd 2013.

Ever wished you could just speak to your pets? Especially when they seem unwell or stressed.

Unfortunately there’s no magical way of doing this, but there are signs to look out for of change and discomfort in animals.

Stress in cats can be caused by a number of things and is very common. Unfortunately, as an owner it can be extremely difficult to know what is causing the stress at a particular time.

frightened cat

What can be the causes of stress in cats?

Changes to your cat’s environment are likely to make them stressed. They are most loving and well behaved if they are in control of their surroundings.

If they have been relocated or a new cat has been integrated into the home, this can make them uneasy. Likewise, the loss of another pet from the household will shake them up and confuse them.

These sorts of triggers normally only affect cats of a nervous disposition but don’t be surprised if your ‘chilled out’ pets react in this way too. Cats distribute their pheromones using facial marking; this makes them feel in control. So even if you move furniture about or redecorate, this can unsettle their pheromones and stress them.

Social isolation, fear and frustration can also play a part in stressing your cat. Try to notice any changes in behaviour and monitor them.

What are the common signs of stress in cats?

For cats, stress can be acute or chronic; acute stress lasts for minutes or seconds, whereas chronic can last for days at a time. Acute stress can be recognised by symptoms such as trembling, sweaty paws, raised hackles, dilated pupils, freezing on the spot, running away or staring.

Chronic symptoms are more likely to include a change in eating and sleeping patterns, avoiding human contact, aggression, changes in weight, and strange grooming behaviour.

Seek advice from your vet, if you feel your cats stress levels are high as there could be more serious medical issues causing these changes in your cat.

How can you reduce stress in cats?

If you can identify the cause of stress immediately, try to remove them from that first. This can be a temporary measure while you weigh up how to deal with it in the long term. For example, if a new cat in the house stresses them, give them their own space away from the other cat while they calm down. Then reintroduce them slowly and carefully, monitoring the situation throughout.

You can also try to distract them with new toys, and offer them a climbing perch; cats like to sit high up where they feel safe and in control.

When moving things around in your house, or when people and animals are coming and going, try having a cat pheromones diffuser, such as Feliway. This should put them at ease on a short-term basis.

If stress becomes an on-going problem, consult your vet to find out any other medical options available.

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