What Can Stress Out Your Cat and How to Deal With It

Is Stressful for a Cat

Cats can sometimes be very moody, but there is nothing like a stressed-out cat. If a pet is stressed, there are even more problems for the owner. Cats can become aggressive, messy with their litter box, or start scratching the furniture. 

Even if you know your cat well, and are familiar with its behaviors, some issues may occur that you haven’t experienced yet with your kitty. 

What Is Stressful for a Cat?

Cats are natural predators, but also very careful, as they can be prey for bigger animals. They can feel threatened by anything that seems dangerous in their surroundings. Even a strange sound or its blanket placed differently than they are used to can fill your cat with anxiety

Those were some simple examples, but in some cases, if not recognized on time, cats can end up with chronic stress and need special care. 

Some commonly known things that can stress out a cat are:

  • Moving to a new home or rearranging the furniture. They are so attached to the space they live in that such big changes freak them out before they get used to the order of things again. 
  • Dogs or other cats: While dogs are a natural threat to cats, making them scared and stressed, being with other cats can make them anxious too, especially if they fight over dominance and territory. 
  • Specific sounds can make your cat crazy with stress, like fireworks or a vacuum cleaner.
  • Being alone for a long time. Cats can suffer from anxiety and loneliness if they don’t socialize with other cats in their life, but also if they are left at home by their owners for an unusually long time. 
  • Health conditions or trauma can make a cat stressed out. If suffering from chronic pain or heart disease cats can become grumpy and anxious. The same goes for a post-traumatic experience. If a cat was abused or neglected, it may never fully recover from that stress. 

Unexpected Stress Factors for Cats and How to Treat Them

New People

Cats simply don’t like changes, and they may react to meeting new people in their environment whether that was just a temporary guest in your home, a new partner, or a child. 

What you can do is to try to gradually introduce your kitty to this new person, have lots of patience, and provide the cat with a “safe place” where it can hide if it needs to. Act as normal as possible and stick to the daily routines your cat is already familiar with. 

New Things, Sounds, and Smells

If you notice that your cat is acting a bit strange lately, one of the first things that you should check is if there is anything that has changed in its usual environment or routines. Cats can become anxious even because of the smallest things that bother them like some new decoration or a scented candle. 

Pay attention to the changes you are making at home and your feline’s reactions. Use unscented candles, not a lot of perfumes at home, and make sure there is always fresh air

Cat Fights

If there are more cats in one household, they will have their unique relationships which may not seem obvious at first glance. If cats are sharing the food, bed, and litter box, it is expected that a “battle” for territory and resources will occur.  

Such conflicts between cats can leave consequences making them constantly stressed and aggressive, so pay attention to your pets’ behavior and make sure there is enough for everyone. If you can afford it, provide them with separate litter boxes and food bowls, they will appreciate it and be calmer. 

Distractions From the Outside

Cats are very resistant animals but on the other hand, they can also be very sensitive and “private” creatures that need peace and quiet. If a cat doesn’t have a place to hide and rest, do its toilet routines in peace, that might cause problems with anxiety. 

Cats react to sound and movements around them and are also affected by the happenings they can see through the window or a balcony. If there are any other cats moving outdoors, an apartment cat can go crazy. 

Pay attention to your cat’s behavior and notice if your cat is affected by anything that is going on outdoors. Place the kitty’s litter box in a hidden, quiet place in the apartment, far from traffic sounds and large windows, and it should feel safe and calm. 

Too Much Cuddling

As a loving cat parent, you also need to know when much is too much, because you also may become the cause of stress and anxiety for your cat. No matter how much you like to pet and cuddle your cat, they often don’t feel the same, so give your kitty a break, and let it show you when it’s in the mood for being around you. 

Learn how to make compromises with your cat and to understand its needs. Only in that way can you make your pet feel loved and comfortable. 

Changes in the Owner’s Daily Routines

If you’ve been struggling to figure out what is bothering your cat recently, think if any of the changes in your own routine has changed. Cats can get affected by the daily schedule changes and get anxious because they don’t understand what is going on. 

If you’ve changed your job or even a shift, your cat may notice that and start struggling to adapt. The same works if you’ve started working at home and occupying the “cat’s” space longer than usual. 

These changes are nothing but normal, and won’t harm your cat severely. However, make sure to show your kitty some affection and care by trying to play, cuddle, and feed it on the usual schedule as much as possible, until the cat gets used to a new routine.  

How to Provide Long-Term Stress Relief?

When dealing with a stressed-out cat or want to prevent any stressful situations, you can always:

  • Avoid making sudden changes and surprises in your cat’s surroundings
  • Try to follow the usual routines and schedules
  • Get rid of the stress factor if possible

If a stress factor is another person or a cat and you can’t just get rid of them, make sure to introduce them gradually and provide your cat with some privacy with a safe and comfortable place to hide. 

It is always good for a cat to be entertained and active. If you don’t have the means to let your cat wander outside on its own, make sure to equip your apartment with interactive toys and things to scratch and climb on. 

Finally, if you still don’t see your cat getting relief from stress, book an appointment with your vet who can give you expert advice on how to handle its condition.

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