How To Tell If Your Cat Is Stressed.
There are a number of reasons that a cat may become stressed, and we explore some of those in this blog. It could be because of the introduction of a new pet, a new diet or your feline may be suffering from a health issue. Here are a few pointers that may indicate that your pet is not their usual happy self. As with people, not all of the behaviours mean that stress is the cause, but if your cat is exhibiting several of them at the same time then you should consider that they may be stressed.
Scratching Everything In Sight.
Now my cats have a couple of scratching posts and they love to have a good old scratch scratch frequently. Sometimes they like to claw my favorite sofa in my bedroom, much to my annoyance, and regularly have a go at the corner of my son’s bed which I don’t mind so much. They enjoy it. However, if you find a normally well-behaved cat suddenly start to tear up your furniture, clothes and anything else around then it may be an indicator that there’s something not right.
A Noticeable Change In Behavior.
Now, I have a Bengal and he loves following me around the house, rather like a dog. He just loves being around people, but, we all have days when were not feeling quite ourselves and may want to hide away. Cats also climb up high when they’re feeling anxious and this is fine if it happens every now and then: we’re all entitled to a little wallow now and then. However, if this is happening often and you notice a drastic change in your cat’s behaviour then this could be an indicator that something is wrong.
Going Off their food.
This is an obvious one: cat’s love to graze throughout the day and will never go without food. If you notice your cat is not eating then this is a sure sign that your cat is stressed.
Even if your cat isn’t the friendliest animal, if it goes from being well-behaved around other animal & humans to showing aggression then this is an indication that something is wrong. A stressed animal will show aggression to keep others away from it.
Now any cat lover will tell you that they love to groom themselves often. However, if you notice your cat has bald spots or raw spots on their skin then they’re grooming themselves excessively and may be using it as a coping mechanism because they’re not feeling their usual self.
Problems With Using The Litter Box.
As mentioned previously, a sudden and noticeable change in behaviour may mean your cat is struggling with something, either mentally or physically. If your pet is used to using the litter tray and then starts having accidents then you need to investigate urgently. If you have recently moved the litter tray to another location then they may be telling you they’re unhappy with the new location, or the perhaps you just started using a new type of litter they don’t like? If they start urinating elsewhere, and are having problems using the litter box or aren’t using it at all then this could be a sign your feline friend has a lot on their mind
How can I help?
So if you’re cat is experiencing one or more of the listed issues, then let’s explore how you can help. Think about what has changed in their environment...have you introduced a new family pet, or family member such as a baby into the home? Perhaps you’ve moved their food or water bowls, or their litter box and that’s unsettled them? If you can’t think of any obvious changes that may have unnerved them and you’re at all unsure if stress is the cause of their strange behavior then a trip to the vet to have them assessed is a priority.
Make Some Time For Play Time!
Just as with people, your furry pal can get depressed and lonely. If you feel this is the cause of their stress then put aside some time each day to play with your cat. Mine loves me to throw nerf gun bullets up the stairs for him to chase and leap after. Playing with some string on the end of a stick is another great favorite of his. Now, I’ve never been brave enough to take my cat out for a walk, but if you take your cat for a walk with a leash and harness and let them run around outside this is also a great way to deal with stress and tension. If I’m stressed I find going for a run helps...think about what relieves tension for you. Your cat may need some of the same activities.
Home Is Where The Heart Is
Take a trip to your local pet store and have a look for some items that will make your home a sanctuary for your cat. Cats instinctively hide – it helps them to find prey and stay safe, so give them a safe space to retreat to such as a covered bed or cat tree. My cat absolutely loves to sit inside the covered hidey hole on his cat tree. Often cats can feel stressed when they haven’t got a place to go that makes them feel safe & comfortable.