Stress Can Make Your Cats Sick

Prolonged stress can increase the risk of illness and problem behaviours in cats. Just like humans, it’s essential to prevent long-term stress and ensure your cat is content with its life. Here are some easy tricks to achieve that.

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Temporary stress is not dangerous for cats. Everyday situations like being startled by a dog or unexpected noise are typical. These situations trigger the release of hormones that prepare the cat’s body to flee or fight. However, long-term stress should be taken seriously as cats are less equipped to handle it. In the worst cases, stress can lead to physical illnesses such as urinary issues or Cystitis. 

Recognising Signs of Stress in Your Cat 

Certain behaviours may indicate that your cat is experiencing stress. Keep an eye out for the following signs:  

  • Excessive cleaning and washing 
  • Food refusal or binge eating 
  • Increased need for sleep and passivity 
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation indoors 
  • Heightened aggressiveness 
  • Lack of interest in playing 
  • Withdrawal or increased dependence on the owner 
  • Extreme vigilance and strong fear reactions 

When a cat endures prolonged stress, it often feels unwell. In response, it may exhibit inappropriate urination or excessive grooming, leading to fur loss on the belly. 

Detecting Stress in Your Cat 

Identifying long-term or chronic stress in cats can be challenging since it usually develops gradually. Attention to subtle signals can help determine if your cat is stressed. These signals vary depending on the cat’s personality. For instance, changing behaviour patterns or routines, such as spending more time outside after a home change, could indicate stress. 

Preventing Stress in Your Cat 

 Prevention is crucial because detecting stress in cats can be difficult. Here are some tips to help prevent stress in your cat: 

  • Provide multiple litter boxes and food bowls, with at least one per cat plus an extra one. Ensure the litter boxes are not placed together, and spread out the food bowls, keeping them away from water bowls. 
  • Offer high and low beds and hiding places for your cat, replicating their natural inclination to sit in trees and rest under bushes. 
  • Avoid overcrowding in a small area with too many cats. Not all cats enjoy the company, and even two incompatible cats can cause problems. If introducing a new cat, follow proper guidelines for acclimation. 
  • Stick to daily routines so your cat can anticipate what will happen. 
  • Respect your cat’s need for solitude and allow it to be alone when desired. 
  • If your cat goes outside, let it take the initiative to go in and out. 
  • For indoor cats, provide a stimulating environment to prevent boredom. 
  • Ensure your cat can access elevated areas, such as a cat tree or shelf, for observation and exploration. 
  • Consider using herbal remedies or pheromone products: Some cats may benefit from the use of herbal remedies or pheromone-based products to help reduce stress. Herbal remedies such as chamomile or valerian root can have calming effects on cats. Additionally, synthetic pheromone products, such as Feliway, can help create a sense of security and reduce anxiety in cats. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if these options are suitable for your cat and to ensure proper usage and dosage. 
  • Talk to a veterinarian: If you notice signs of stress in your cat despite preventive measures, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian. A veterinarian can evaluate your cat’s overall health and behaviour, provide guidance on managing stress, and recommend appropriate interventions or treatments if necessary. They may suggest behavioural modifications, prescription medications, or other strategies tailored to your cat’s specific needs. Regular communication with a veterinarian can help ensure the well-being of your cat and address any potential issues before they escalate. 

Understanding Environmental Factors 

There might be specific factors causing discomfort or pressure for your cat. It could need to compete for resources or more safe spaces to retreat. You can significantly reduce stress by respecting your cat’s desire for solitude and creating a conducive environment. Remember to integrate with your cat on its terms. 

You can ensure your cat’s well-being and happiness by taking proactive measures to prevent and alleviate stress.