Stressed OUT! – Meow

September 5, 2018

Is your cat stressed out? Pets Training & Boarding takes a look at stress in cats and how you can help prevent it and ease their fear during unavoidable stressful times.

One thing is for certain, cats do not like change. Being incredibly territorial creatures, they much prefer the comfort and security their home and area brings. When something occurs within their environment that is either scary or confronting they can easily become stressed and start to exhibit symptoms that can sometimes be very unpleasant for owners.

The most important aspect when it comes to stressed out behaviour or anxious behaviour in cats, is to seek help quickly, particularly if the issue is persistent for more than a week.

Surveys have revealed that most owners do not seek help until after three months, when the issue can be much harder to resolve. This is particularly in terms of the stinky problem that affects many cat households such as inappropriate urinating or marking/spraying. Urination and litter box problems need to be seen by a vet or preferably a veterinary cat behaviourist, before a month, for the best chance at a resolution.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Hissing
  • Hiding
  • Fighting
  • Inappropriate urinating
  • Fluffed up fur
  • Increased vocalisation
  • Excessive grooming & scratching
  • Spraying/marking areas with urine
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Change in behaviour

However, some cats are just fearful when the cat cage appears or a trip to the boarding kennel is in order. It’s not uncommon to hear of cats hiding once the suitcases remerge signalling a holiday is around the corner. This type of stress can be easily reduced by leaving suitcases around for a longer period of time before and after your trip, or packing in a different room that your pet cannot see.

The cat cage can be left out and place your cats favourite toys inside alongside some treats. Allow your cat to view the carrier as a safe and secure place to be and not something that just transports them to a scary place.

Abolishing some MYTHS

Hiding– This is a completely natural behaviour for cats. Some are ‘fighters’ some are ‘flighters’. If your cat hides from your visitors this is a completely normal cat behaviour. Your cat will soon come back out when they feel secure.

Doesn’t Like other cats – again this is a very normal behaviour for cats. Most cats do not like other cats unless they have been introduced before 18months of age.

Fighting with cats or people – this is also a natural defence for the brave cat. Your scared cat will hide, your brave cat will fight.

 

Solving Problems
The success rate in solving your cats stress levels and anxiety is the dedication you have to reducing and desensitising your cat to the stimuli that is causing the problem. This could be as complex as another cat coming onto your property, an arrival or a new family member or moving home. Or as simple as making the cat cage a fun place to be, and giving extra treats and pats at the vet.

Making steps to make your cat feel safe and secure alongside the advice of a trained cat behaviourist can help. It is important to remember that mood modifying medications will only raise the threshold of the stress until your cat starts to show symptoms. So, getting to the real root of the problem, and taking steps to reduce this problem, is advisable.

TOP TIPS

  • MOVING HOME – When moving home use a pheromone diffuser. Keep your cat in a room for a day before you move with the diffuser on and choose a room in your new home that is warm and safe. Keep your pet in this room for a few days with the diffuser on, their warm bedding and litter tray. Lots of pats and cuddles and take the introduction to the new home slowly. Ensure all of your ‘stuff’ is there first so it smells like home. Scent is very important when it comes to cats.
  • NEW BABY – new babies can also be a big deal for cats. It’s best to get correctly prepared for the arrival of a new baby. Consider playing baby sounds and researching some other great tips to help your cat adjust. ‘Tell Your Cat You Are Pregnant’ by world renowned behaviourist Dr Lewis Kirkham is a great place to start.

 

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