Do You Know How To Reduce Stress In Cats?

Does your cat seem stressed or anxious? Do you know how to determine this condition? If your kitty becomes stressed, do you know how to reduce stress in cats?

Cats can hide their feelings well. Sometimes you cannot tell if they have become stressed, or if they have some kind of illness. You must observe kitty’s body language and changes in physical appearance that might offer a clue to their feelings.

Some Signs Of Stress In Cats

What physical changes should you look for? Here are signs that can indicate stress:

CHANGES IN APPETITE: Eating either more or less could be caused by stress.

CHANGES IN GROOMING HABITS: The cat might signal a problem if he either stops grooming or overgrooms.

ELIMINATING OUTSIDE THE LITTER BOX: Often stress can cause a cat to eliminate outside his box.

VOMITING: It makes sense that stress could cause digestive issues in a cat. If kitty begins comiting more frequently, better get the vet’s opinion in case the cat has underlying medical conditions.

Behavior Signs Of Stress

These might include the following:

HIDING: If this behavior escalates, perhaps it becomes a warning sign of stress. Are kitty’s surrounding making the cat feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable?

White cat, very scared
A very scared cat

AGGRESSION: Increases in aggression, either toward you or toward other pets, might indicate stress. Such behavior includes hissing, swatting, or even biting.

INCREASED VOCALIZATION: Your cat wants to tell you something. If he normally acts quiet and reserved, the extra “talking” could indicate an attempt to communicate stressful discomfort.

LESS ACTIVITY THAN USUAL: If kitty feels stressed or ill, he may spend more time sleeping or hiding. If this behavior persists, you must make that important call to the vet.

What Can Cause Stress In Cats?

CHANGING THEIR ENVIRONMENT: These changes could include moving, rearranging the furniture, bringing in a new pet, or a new family member.

If you introduce new pets, you might expect the addition of a dog to cause some problems until the cat becomes used to this new animal.

If kitty has an illness or an injury, the may show signs of stress.

Activities Which Make Kitty Fearful Or Anxious

These could include such things as a trip to the vet or a groomer. Fireworks or loud noisy storms can upset kitty. Anything very much out of the ordinary can cause him stress.I

IMPROPER SOCIALIZATION: If a cat does not receive positive socialization or environmental exposure during the first critical 7 to 12 weeks of age, he may often become fearful or anxious.

Black & white cat sharing behavior concerns

TRAUMA: Trauma can often cause fear. Though the experience may not seem traumatic t you, your cat may react in a totally different way.

Sometimes such trauma develops because of experiences in the first year of kitty’s life.

If your cat becomes anxious, several physical reactions could occur. Heart and respiratory rates may increase. Kitty may pant, tremble, or salivate. The cat might hide, become destructive, or talk a lot.

What Can You Do If Your Cat Becomes Anxious Or Scared?

If kitty shows a moderate to extreme fear response, see if you can offer comfort. Perhaps having some loving, quiet attention may soothe him.

Do not punish your cat, as such action will only increase the fear response. Also, aggressive behavior may result. Yelling at the cat or squirting with a water bottle will make matters worse.

If your cat has become anxious, do not attempt to put him into a carrier. Some cats panic when caged or confined. In such situations, the cat may injure himself. He might bite or scratch at the cage, resulting in torn nails or broken teeth. Try to calm kitty first.

How To Manage Cat Anxiety

First of all, do not ignore the problem — It needs to be addressed. If you do nothing, the disorders may progress or intensify.

It becomes most important for your cat that you avoid situations that cause him fear or anxiety. For a really severe problem, a medication given may take time to become effective, and possibly your only choice may become hospitalization.

Black and white anxious cat

For any stress-related problem, extreme or otherwise, make sure his environment provides as few stressers as possible. For example, if unfamiliar people cause him fear, do not expose him to new houseguests.

Besides behavior modification, often cat anxiety medicine or supplements can help. You can find several available. You may want to consult your vet for suggestions.

I am including two examples of a stressed cat from my personal experience:


Pogo was an old friend of mine. He lived with family in Juneau, and when I spent the night there, he would sleep with me.

After 13 years with the same family, he ended up in the shelter. When I went looking for a new cat, some 7 1/2 months later, I didn’t expect to see him there. When I did, I took him home immediately.

His stress factor fell off the charts. He had pulled all the fur off his stomach and in tracks down his legs. The dogs, barking continuously, freaked him out. He was overweight, from stealing other cats’ food. If any cat needed out of the shelter, Pogo fit the bill.

When I brought him home, his gratitude seemed boundless. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight, but followed me everywhere. When I stopped, he’d sit down and purr. At night, he had to sleep smashed up next to me, close to my head. He did not want to lose me.


He would dream he had gone back to that horrible place, and would start pulling at his fur. Then I would stroke him softly and murmur that all was well. Gradually, he’d relax and go back to undisturbed sleep.

Eventually, his fur all grew back and he lost his extra weight.

He got so he’d sleep under the covers next to me, with his head on my arm or my pillow. He lived with me for the rest of his days, another 2 1/2 years, and was able to end his life on a happy note. I am so glad I took him home with me.


After Pogo had gone, I waited about a year before I got another cat. Again, I found a shelter cat. He’d been picked up as a stray, and weighed only 9 pounds when I first brought him home. (He now weighs 14 1/2 pounds.) He started as a feral and must have been adopted by someone as a kitten.

A “Hemingway cat,” he had extra toes on every foot — a polydactyl. Describing him becomes complicated, so will include his picture. He had a microchip, but though the ex-owner said he’d come pick the cat up, he never did. So, by lucky default, I got him.

He proves to be a challenge. He did not receive proper socialization as a kitten, and thought he should treat me as one of his siblings. Upon waking, if I touched him, he would “attack” my hand. He didn’t seem aggressive; I think he just thought that’s how he should behave.

However, at age 4 1/2, this behavior did not fall into the acceptable range. It took a lot of time and patience to get him to change. He often attacked my feet, and somewhere I read the best clue as to how to deal with it: Instead of pulling away, move toward the cat.

A cat does not expect prey to act like predator. This action on my part would cause him to run, and thus the behavior was thwarted.

His other problem must have had stress as its cause. His eyes were always dilated. For some time, I became concerned that he had some problem with them. For the first five or six months, his eyes dilated to almost entirely black most of the time, even though he had blue eyes.

Feliway To The Rescue

Shortly after his arrival, I purchased a Feliway dispenser.It gives off cat pheromones, and can prove very helpful in de-stressing a cat. Though not an overnight solution, I feel the Feliway definitely helped him to relax and lose his stress.


I kept him in, but had a 6 x 7 catio built, with a door from my office window. The catio provided great benefits, as he really wanted outside. I feared he’d run off. Now he has lived with me for a year and a half, and his eyes finally adjust to narrow slits in bright light.

A week ago, folks came to cut the lawn. Friends also came to help me plant my front flower beds. The cat escaped three times, but each time I caught him easily enough. So, have decided to let him out for part of the morning. He stays fairly close, and at lunch-time I call him in, using food.

Then, I lie down with him for about an hour. Once he’s well asleep, I get up, and he continues to sleep until supper-time. After supper, he goes out to the catio if he wants out.

He acts so much different than he did at first. I think whatever stress he carried with him must have finally left him, and now he’s a relaxed, happy cat.

Well, how nice! He just meowed at me and came in of his own accord. Guess I’d better go give him a treat.

Observe, Then Create A Plan

Stress issues need resolution. Watch your cat. What body language does he use? See if you can determine the cause of his stress and then work on a solution.

If your cat becomes relaxed and happy, you and kitty will both reap the benefits.

References I used for this post:

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