Stress in humans can be life threatening, as well as complicating existing health conditions, but what about cat stress symptoms? Cats can suffer from stress too and it can be just as dangerous for them as it is for us humans. Therefore, in this article we will discuss some of the causes of stress in cats, as well as the cat stress symptoms to look out for prior to treatment.
What is stress in a cat and is it such a bad thing?
When talking about stress, we automatically think of it as a bad thing, but in many cases and instances, stress is a good thing, in short bursts. For instance, when a cat is out hunting prey, and it comes across an aggressive dog, it will automatically take a detour or run away, thanks to stress. For a small instance, the cat is stressed, but it probably saved its life or self from injury, and this is healthy stress, a small burst of stress warning of danger is ok, but what happens if your cat is constantly stressed?
If a cat is constantly stressed this is a bad thing, for you, for your cat and for your cats health, so let us look at what stress actually does. During stress, the blood pressure rises, breathing becomes more rapid and heart rate increases, sometimes dramatically, this in turn slows digestion and the immune system functions less efficiently. Moreover, long bouts of stress, or constant stress can be a contributing factor, or underlying cause of many health conditions and sicknesses, which can, in turn, lead to a shortened life span.
What are these cat stress symptoms?
Once we have realized that stress is an important factor in our cats lives, we should then learn how to spot signs of stress in our cats. Some of the more noticeable signs of stressed cat behavior are excessive urinating or urine spraying. Moreover, excessive grooming and hair loss can be another sign too. Having said that, aggression and excess vocalization can be a sign too along with appetite changes or activity changes. Furthermore, some cats may urinate outside of the litter tray or box when stressed.
Basically a cat owner should be able to spot signs of stress in their cat simply by noticing any changes in their behavior, which may have been noticed in the past, yet not automatically thought about it being related to stress. Moreover, there are other patterns that may show stress in your cat, like inactivity or avoidance of yourself, other humans and pets or restlessness. It is generally the owner who notices subtle changes in their cats behavior, and they shouldn’t be put down to “he’s having a bad day”, although this may be the case, one should keep an eye on him to see if the behavior is more than just one day.
The very definition of stress is a state of emotional or mental strain due to adverse or demanding circumstances, meaning there is always something in particular that causes the stress. Having said that, stress can be caused by many different circumstances, some of which the owner may not even realize, because what is normal for us may not be so normal for a cat. For instance, physical changes in the household can be one stressful change for a cat, like having a new baby in the house, or a new pet, maybe even a visitor who is staying for a while.
Suggestions for cat stress relief
To cut down on your cats stress levels you can help him adjust gradually to something new that you know is coming, like a newborn baby. You can set up the baby’s room months in advance adding new items gradually over time, instead of bringing in lots of new items at once, and let him explore the new items individually to show him there is nothing to be afraid of. At these times maybe some extra petting or brushing can show him that there is nothing to worry about, and allow him to watch you put new items into the home and talk to him in a calm voice.
Another well known form of stress in a cat is traveling somewhere new, like to the vets for the first time, or going on holiday if you take your cat with you. However, you can ease cat stress symptoms at these times by making sure the outcome is positive, talk to him during a vet visit and pet him to show him everything is going to be ok, and even reward him with a treat afterwards. Doing things that you know your cat loves during stressful times can make him feel so much better, like petting, talking and brushing him.
Other stressful situations can be fears, a fear of dogs, or a fear of children can be real stressful situations for a cat. This is where your cats surroundings can help. Additionally, making sure he has somewhere to climb, so he can view his surroundings from a place he is comfortable at, and where possible danger cannot get to him, can help ease some of his stress. Furthermore, having several elevated positions, like a climbing tree or a favorite place on top of a tall unit, or cabinet can make him feel safe and stress free when a dog visits or children are running around.
Once you can determine that your cat is actually stressed, you need to find out what it is that is actually causing the stress. If he has started acting stressful recently, you need to look back to see what has changed in his environment that could be causing it. Once the stress creator has been identified you can either eliminate it, or limit the cause of the stress. If it is something that cannot be removed, like a newborn, or children or another pet, improve your cats experience with the item, animal or human so he can see it is not a threat, or something to be stressed about.
If all else fails try these products for cat stress relief!
Having said that, there will be times where nothing seems to work, this is when it may be time to try something different, like cat pheromones. Cat pheromones can calm a cat, which is stressed. Moreover, scientists have recreated the pheromone and they come in a spray form that can be sprayed on furniture or even in locations you want your cat to stop spraying. There are also plug in type pheromones, and even collars that your cat can wear although it is not recommended they wear them all the time, just in times where he may need it, like a visit to the vet.
Finally, to recap on a stressful cat, keep an eye on his behavior, and if you see something isn’t quite right, pay a little more attention to see if it could be stress. Catching stress and stressful situations early means he will not suffer any long term affects, or become ill if left too long. Having said that, if none of the above things work for you, make an appointment to see your vet and tell him your concerns about these cat stress symptoms, because a good vet can give plenty of tips and advice, and even medications that can help your cat live the life he and you deserve stress free.