It is not only people but also animals who experience stressful states. You might think that cats are self-obssessed, but in reality these animals are very emotional and they are creatures of habit. A visit to a vet, unexpected loud sounds, moving to a new place – all these can cause anxiety and severe stress in cats. How can an owner reduce stress in cats?
Each owner should remember, that demonstration of stress is the normal reaction of an organism to external stimulus. However, the degree of stress is very important, because the way in which the owner reduces stress in their pets mainly depends on that.
How can an owner understand that their cat is under stress?
There are a few signs of stress in cats, that should alert the owner:
- change in appetite
A pet may refuse to eat or, on the contrary, experience an abnormal appetite
- excessive grooming
If a cat, who was reluctant to socialise, becomes affectionate and needs your attention, or accompanies his or her owner every single moment, then the reason is probably the same – emotional despair. As well, cats who are typically sociable, may start to behave in an aggressive or unsociable way, this is also an a sign to look out for as an owner
- excessive sleep
Cats are known to be the world champions in sleeping. However, if your cat has started to sleep more than usual, this change of behaviour should alert the owner
- change in behaviour
If you notice that your cat has started to behave aggressively towards other animals or members of your family, it might indicate that the cat is under stress
diarrhea or constipationOne of the benefits of cleaning the litter box is that an owner will easily notice non-typical signs, such as diarrhea or constipation.
What causes stress in cats
Cats individually react to these or other situations. For example, some cats can safely be near a working vacuum cleaner, while it causes fear and horror in others. The majority of factors depend on the cat’s training, the way of life and environment. If a kitten has been accustomed to traveling since his childhood, it is unlikely that a car journey (new strange smells and noises) will become a stress factor for him or her in the future. However, an adult cat who will be travelling the first time in their life, will probably experience some degree of stress.
The most common reasons why a cat might experience some level of stress are:
- moving to a new house or an apartment
- change in everyday routine, e.g. holidays
- visiting a vet
- journey when someone is not accustomed to travelling
- not enough fresh air, particularly when a cat was used to spending time outside
- introduction of children or babies, new people or animals in the house or too many animals in the household
- unexpected loneliness or a new routine of an owner
- death of human or animal member of a family
- sharing living spaces or competing for resources in multicat household
- diseases, pain (e.g. after surgery) or physical trauma
The treatment of stress in cats should always begin from consulting with a vet. In some cases, the treatment might be limited to taking antianxiety drugs, in other situations, a cat might need to undergo complex therapy.
Of course, in some situations a cat will get used to new environment such as the appearance of a new family member, and this kind of stress will disappear.
How to decrease stress in cats?
Attention switching is one of the simplest and most effective methods. An owner should surround a cat with love, care and attention, and she will gradually forget about stressful situations. This strategy is particularly effective, when new family members or other animals appear in the home. Let the cat know that he is and always be “number one”
One of the best ways to relieve stress in cats is physical activity. For example, when you move to a new house or apartment, buy a cat tree, play with her as often as possible, set up joint activities and interact with your pet about 10-15 minute daily. Last but not least, bring the cat’s belonging to the new place, that will help your cat forget about their stressful environment.
PetCoach recommends giving Valerian and St. John’s Wort to cats, natural herbs that might help to reduce stress. There are a few other remedies such as herbs or homeopathic treatments that might help to relieve stress in cats. However you should remember to consult a vet to determine the correct remedy and dose required.
If your feline friend is seriously stressed, make an appointment at the vet to discuss anti-anxiety drug therapy.
Stress caused by vet visit
The first task of each cat owner is to find a cat-sensitive vet that understands the idea of feline-friendly environment. Vicky Halls also recommends planning vet or dentist visits outside the rush hour and drive the car as smoothly as possible. Before the visit try to find out as much as possible about the time you need. To make the situation less stressful you can also choose the first or the last appointment, or before leaving your home, you can call the vet to be sure that everything is going without any delays. In case you own a few cats, remember that they communicate using their sense of smell. That is why, when you return home, keep the cat in a separate room for at least the first few hours, so that the pet is able to re-establish an odour that is familiar to other cats.
Cat are very intelligent animals, so a cat owner should eliminate the association between the carrier and appointment at a vet. Leave the carrier in a familiar place and encourage your pet to spend time inside by leaving the door open. You might consider taking the cat for a short drive, so that your animal gets familiar with the journey.
If you have tried all possible methods, but your cat is still extremely afraid of vet visits, you might find veterinary mobile practices that perform home visits.