Cats are generally very quiet, unassuming creatures, but like any animal, they can get stressed and agitated.
Your feline friend carries stress differently to humans, often hiding pain and disease extremely well and subtly revealing any sign of discomfort.
If you’re worried that your cat might be unwell, check if your they’re displaying any of these classic signs of distress.
- Increase in ‘accidents’ outside the litter tray
- Hiding under beds, in cupboards or away from the main areas of the house, especially when guests are over.
- Unfriendly with other pets or taking a long time to become acquainted with the new pet or baby in the home.
- Excessive licking, grooming, or scratching of themselves
- Change in appetite (or fussiness) and drinking habits
- Changed demeanour towards their owners
Chronically stressed cats, like their human parents, can become predisposed to a number of health disorders relating to their skin, urinary and digestion systems. The first point of call if you notice any changes in your cat is a trip to the vet.
In the clinic, we’ll rule out any sinister health issues first. This generally involves a physical exam, and sometimes a routine blood and/or urinary test.
Once we’re confident with their physical health, we can begin to focus on their home environment and finding ways to make life less stressful mentally and emotionally for your cat.
Litter tray management
Cats are notoriously fussy when it comes to their toileting habits. They may have been fine previously, but the introduction of a stressor in the house environment can change their behaviours.
The ideal kitty litter situation should look like:
- A litter for each cat, plus one extra located in different rooms of the house (this is particularly important for multi-cat households because cats refuse to queue in line for the toilet)
- A big tray that’s ideally 1.5 times the length of the cat (excluding the tail)
- Cleaned daily and washed and thoroughly cleaned every 1 to 2 weeks.
Adequate food and water sources
Cats love cleanliness. It’s very important for cats to have clean, fresh water in at least two places around the house encouraging them to drink and eat readily.
Keep their water bowls away from their food bowls as cats generally don’t like to eat where they drink.
Fun fact: this preference relates back to before cats became domesticated. Cats know that drinking the water next to the animal carcass they just hunted will make them ill. Some wild instincts can be hard to shake!
If your cat is growing increasingly fussy, try feeding them in a shallow dish or heating up their wet food to make it smell more appetising.
Creating a relaxing environment
All cats, young and old, but especially indoor-only cats, need to be entertained.
A few toys and scratching posts will do the trick. Boredom in cats can lead to the development of behavioural problems.
Stressed cats particularly like places to hide and claim for themselves. Having sitting places up high gives them a good view of the home and somewhere to get away from ‘stressors’ like kids or dogs.
A spritz of Feliway pheromone
Feliway is the pheromone that cats leave naturally when they feel safe in an environment. It helps to reduce the signs of stress we mentioned earlier.
You can find Feliway in spray bottle forms or as diffusers and can be useful when travelling, introducing your cat to new places or people, and on their scratching posts.
This is not a prescription but it’s a good alternative to starting any prescription anti-anxiety medication.
If issues persist, we recommend you pay us a visit in the clinic. We have highly trained nurses and vets available to examine your cat and get to the root of the problem.