Do you have a stressed cat? On this website, some posts cover different types of stress a cat might endure. This post will cover a variety of causes of cat anxiety. You will learn some ways to provide stress anxiety relief for your cat.
Origins Of Cat Anxiety
Sometimes something such as a loud noise or an unknown visitor will make kitty a bit nervous. However, these reactions are normal, and may not mean you must deal with a case of cat anxiety.
However, if your cat seems constantly on edge and showing signs of worry, you should find out the cause of this behavior. If your cat acts fearful when you cannot find anything threatening in his environment, the cause might be cat anxiety.
Just as we do, when a cat becomes scared of something, he will feel it in his body. He will have a physical reaction, including an increased heart rate and faster breathing. The body by this reaction goes into fight or flight mode.
Also, stress-related behavior in a cat may lead to such reactions as hiding, vocalizing a lot, and finding things in the house to destroy.
Could The Anxiety Be Caused By Injury Or Pain?
With a cat, you need to realize that his anxiety could be the result of an injury or of pain, and this gives you one important reason to discover the cause. If the cause is injury or pain, that problem needs to be addressed.
What About Very Old Or Very Young Cats?
If you have an old cat, he can also become anxious. The reason stems from an age-related condition, such as dementia. He may become confused because of other memory problems. We humans do not have an exclusive corner on that market.
Perhaps he experienced trauma as a kitten. Watch the kitten carefully during his first year of life, as this early time can become the most common time when anxiety can start.
Other Reasons Kitty May Become Anxious
Many cats and dogs can become traumatized by fireworks, or by having to move, or when other animals join the family.
Separation anxiety can cause problems if the cat becomes really bonded with someone in the family. If the individual leaves for the day, the cat may worry and stress unnecessarily. (See my earlier post on separation anxiety.)
Recognizing Cat Anxiety
Here you will find a list of signs of anxiety and stress in your cat:
- Tail behavior: Flicking tail, or keeping it close to the body
- Litter box: Not using it; going elsewhere in the house; spraying when spayed or neutered
- Hiding: Wanting to be left alone; no social interaction; trying to escape
- Overgrooming, resulting in bald spots or skin cracked and sore
- Increased vocalization: meowing and yowling
- Aggression toward other pets; ears flattened back and hair standing on end
- Breathing fast; dilated pupils
- Decreased appetite; diarrhea
- Biting and scratching at furniture or other items
- Avoiding eye contact; crouching or leaning away from you
Does Kitty Have OCD?
OCD can be identified by the repetition of behaviors in an obsessive-compulsive fashion, such as sucking or chewing fabric; overgrooming; repetitive yowling, crying, or pacing.
How To Reduce Your Cat’s Anxiety And Stress
1) Discover the cause
Can you figure out the reason for his stress? Whenever you can, track it to a specific incident. If you know your cat, you can hopefully pinpoint an incident or two that may provide the root cause of the problem.
If it is possible, eliminate or minimize the effects of this root cause. When not possible you can take other steps to help kitty cope.
2) Is something in his environment stressing him?
Perhaps the noise level of the house stresses the cat. Turn down the TV or the music; try to control shouting and screaming from young children, and give your cat a quiet, comfortable place to rest.
It might prove quite helpful to get a cat tree. Cats like to sit in high places where they can observe their world. Also, a cat tree will provide alternate places to sleep plus a good place to sharpen claws.
3) Provide more than one litter box
Keep box clean at all times, and place more than one in your home. When your cat sprays, it helps him feel safe, but obviously this type of behavior must be discouraged.
4) Check to make sure it’s not a health problem
You must know for certain that your cat’s anxious behavior does not stem from an underlying medical problem.
5) A cat-calming product may help
Such products have a calming effect on cats. You might try a Feliway diffuser, which works by emitting synthetic pheromones. These supposedly help reduce a cat’s anxiety and stress. Because the smell mimics the cat’s own pheromones, it helps the cat to feel safe and secure.
Plug it in just as you would an air freshener, and it does its job.
Try some CBD calming soft chews. I am a proponent of CBD for cats, as it helped my old cat in many ways, from relieving arthritis pain to keeping him calm and content.
Other calming products you might try include cat calming collars, or perhaps natural supplements such as Bach Pet Rescue Remedy, or Vitamin B calming chews and liquids.
6) Your cat needs quality time
Spend quiet times with your cat, petting him softly and talking to him, just the two of you. Give him positive attention.
Encourage him to play with a variety of toys, and keep him active in other ways. Perhaps a walk with you, if he’s leash trained, would help. Fortunately for me, my cats in the past have all been outdoor cats, and they loved to walk with me. It’s fun to see all the things that interest the cat.
If you know the cause of your kitty’s problem, you can try counter conditioning. For example, perhaps the family dog makes him anxious. In such a case, let cat and dog get close together for short periods of time. Gradually, the cat may become more used to the dog.
If the dog comes close to the cat, and kitty gets anxious, give him a treat. Such a technique can change a negative experience to a positive one.
Importance Of Dealing With Your Anxious Cat
The longer this condition is left untreated, the more intense the symptoms might become. Treating the problem takes about four to six months. If you just ignore the problem, it can compromise your cat’s immune system. Then the cat becomes susceptible to more illness because the immune system can’t deal with the problem.
If you determine the problem and work with kitty to overcome it, you will end up with a happier and very possibly a healthier cat. Your peace of mind and the cat’s more relaxed behavior provides a reward for both of you.
Help your kitty become his best self and know you have done him a great favor.
References I used for this post: thesprucepets.com/reducing-anxiety-in-cats-554064 hillspet.com/cat-care/healthcare/cat-anxiety pethelpful.com/cats/How-to-Reduce-a-Cats-Anxiety-and-Stress veterinarians.org/how-to-calm-your-anxious-cat/