Our feline friends are quite often a bundle of energy. They provide us with fun, laughter and the occasional scare when they bring in a mouse or bird from some of their outside activities.
Sometimes though, the action-packed pet loses a little of its character. It may appear less active, it may sleep a lot more, and it may even decide that food isn’t as desirable as it normally is.
Stress can often be hidden for long periods and build up into something significant, it even has the ability to mask other health issues, make others worse and create new ones.
We took a look at stress in cats and how to identify it and how to help your cat when it starts to feel this way.
What are the signs of stress in cats?
Just like in humans, stress can sometimes become hard to notice in cats at first. It’s even harder with cats though as they cannot tell you that things aren’t feeling right. Instead, you must observe certain behaviours and from there, establish if there is a problem. The main indicators that your cat could be feeling stressed are:
- Hiding or staying away from its normal areas.
- Eating less food than normal.
- Lack of energy.
- Going to the toilet in the wrong places.
- Meowing more often than normal.
- Change in social behaviour.
- A loss of weight.
- Getting more aggressive with other people or animals.
- Vomiting or diarrhoea.
These are also often signs of other medical issues so should they become noticeable, it would be wise to contact your vet first. An assessment will be able to determine whether your cat is ill or stressed.
What can cause stress in cats?
Stress in cats can be triggered by a variety of things, but some cats are more susceptible to it than others. Sometimes, the causes can be hard to define, and you can be left pondering what may have happened to have your cat begin to feel this way. In most cases, stress in cats relates to a change in environment, routine, so think back to any changes that may have taken place recently. These changes could seem relatively minor to you but to your cat, they could have a huge impact. Common causes of stress in cats could include:
- Moving their food bowls or litter trays.
- Replacing old furniture with new.
- Moving furniture into new places.
- Moving house.
- Having someone new move in.
- A new bed.
- Altering where they may be able to hide/sleep or play.
- A changed food type.
- New smells.
As you can see, cats can find even the smallest of changes quite triggering and things that many of us may accept without even thinking about can make a cat feel stressed and unsafe.
In addition to the above list, you should also look at social and routine changes as well as environmental. Cats love their own company, sure they enjoy some interaction when being played with, being fed or being petted but on the whole, they love nothing more than their own company.
As a result. They can become defensive of areas they class as their own. This means that should you introduce another cat or other type of pet to the home, you could see a change in your cat’s behaviour. You could find them getting stressed if any of the following happens:
- You bring new pets into the home.
- They can’t get on with other pets in the home.
- A strange cat appears in the home from another household in the neighbourhood.
- Their play, eating and sleeping areas are starting to become shared.
- More people move into the property.
- People they felt attached to moving out of the property.
A change to a cat’s routine can be stressful for them too. Even humans can find a change in certain aspects of daily life tough to deal with. Especially if it has been a set way for a long period. With cats, they can react negatively to changes in things such as:
- Feeding time
- When you clean the house
- Your bedtime
- When they are played with
- Times you are away from home
- The number of people in the house
Other causes of stress in cats
In addition to all the above, there are still a few additional things that could cause stress for your cat. Illness, injury, and discomfort can all be stressful for them, so a visit to the vet, if they are unwell, is always recommended. It may not fix the problem right away, it may not be able to fix the problem at all but the correct treatment from a vet can alleviate some of the stress your cat is going through.
Cats, like humans, also have fears and phobias and being exposed to these can lead to bouts of stress. Sudden loud noises, fireworks and travelling are just some of the common ones.
So how do we try and help our feline friends out?
Cat stress relief
Whether your car is already stressed, or you want to prevent a bout of stress from developing, there are several things you can do to help them. Cats can be fussy little characters and it cannot be said that each one of these tips will work. Some cats may not respond at all to these methods of help whilst others may thrive.
By doing the following, you can go some way to ensuring your cat remains happy and stress-free.
- Ensure you have everything they need in easily accessible areas. This would include, a food bowl, water bowl, scratch post, toys, a bed, and a litter tray.
- If you have more than one cat, ensure each has its own food and water bowls.
- Provide hiding places. These help them feel safe, especially if something is happening indoors that could scare them. Vary them to help keep the cat entertained. Have some up high and some down low.
- Ensure a cat flap is available so they can venture out as and when they want. If no cat flap is available, try and find a routine of letting in and out so they get used to it. To prevent further stress, find a catflap that works with a barcode scanner. This way you remove the possibility of unwanted visitors that may stress your cat.
- Provide plenty of toys to keep them active.
- Only clean one of their beds at a time. Cats feel safe with familiarity and having something that has a familiar smell will be comforting to them.
- Allow your cat to determine when it should be interacting with you. Too much fuss from owners can see the car retreat and become stressed.
- Avoid excessive petting. You may think it is reassuring them but it can make them feel much worse.
- Invest in pheromone diffusers for cats. If you are aware that something is going to happen that could stress your cat, these act as a way to placate the cat and make them feel less anxious and stressed.
- Allow them time to adjust when changes happen. If they hide away whilst things are happening. Let them! It will be their way of feeling safe and managing the situation.
- You should also let members of your household know what signs of stress your cat may show. This way they won’t add to the stress it is going through. Young children especially should be supervised as they may not recognize those signs and could add to the problems whilst thinking they are trying to make the cat happy.
Can cats die from stress?
Unfortunately, yes. Cats can die from stress. Much though depends on the type of stress they are encountering. An acute form of stress is something temporary, a journey, a guest visiting the house, or maybe even a new bed. If these things trigger your cat to feel stressed. In most cases, it will pass.
Chronic stress on the other hand is a more severe form of stress and comes about from something more likely to have a long-term effect on the cat. This could be a health condition for example.
When stressed, a cat will find that its blood pressure rises, its digestion slows down, its heart rate increases, and its breathing becomes more rapid. In small bouts, these are not so problematic but for a cat with existing health issues, they can be damaging. So, follow our tips above and you can make your feline feel fine with just a little bit of help.
Travel can be a stressful time for pets but thankfully, for the most part, they can handle it quite well. At PBS Pet Travel, we have been helping organise safe and, hopefully, stress-free cat travel for years. Our teams are fully understanding of the need for care and attention and put together exactly what you and your cat need for the perfect pet travel. Why not contact us today to see just how easy, safe and compliant we can make it for your cat to get abroad? Whether it is cat flights, transport by boat, or even a courier by road, the team of pet travel experts at PBS can help! Secure a free bespoke pet travel quote today!