Stress Awareness Month: Spotting Signs of Stress in Cats 

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Cats can easily become stressed when there are changes to their environment, so it’s important to identify any triggers that can cause anxiety. Like us, our furry friends have individual personalities and will therefore be affected by different things. 

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Changes to a cat’s surroundings can sometimes have a negative effect on his or her behaviour which can lead to further medical problems if left unmanaged. Luckily, there are lots of tips and tricks to help you to understand why your feline friend might be showing signs of distress.”

What are the signs? 

“Often the most notable sign of an unhappy cat is a change to their eating habits – those who usually enjoy their food may show less interest at mealtimes.

“Negative body language such as an arched back, coupled with antisocial tendencies, are also tell-tale signs that your furry friend is struggling. You may notice they are more vocal than usual and that their coat is deteriorating, which can indicate over grooming.

“Urinating outside of their litter tray and spraying, along with more worrying symptoms like passing blood, sickness and weight loss, can mimic other medical conditions, so be sure to consult your vet for a proper diagnosis.”

Changes to their environment 

“Significant changes to their environment can be a major cause of stress in cats – this includes any redecorating, renovations or replacing of their belongings. When making any major adjustments, ensure they still have a safe space with separate areas for their food, water, litter tray, and scratching posts – as well as a comfy place to sleep.”

Social changes 

“Many cats are territorial and tend to prefer their own company and space. Changes such as the arrival of a new pet or baby can be very stressful – as can any loss, so it’s important to help your cat through these stages. Our feline companions also like routine, so try to stick to a regular feeding schedule and make time to play with them each day.”

How do I stop my cat from getting stressed? 

“Ensuring your cat’s main welfare needs are met is the best way to avoid a stressed-out puss. Just like us, keeping them active may also help reduce stress, so make time for games and activities each day. Check out the PDSA website or our own shop for lots of fun toys.

“For furry friends who enjoy time outdoors, consider a cat flap so they can come and go as they please. It’s best to choose a microchip option to stop unwanted cats from entering your home.

“If you are anticipating something that could be stressful for your cat, consider investing in a pheromone diffuser or natural essential oil diffuser which provides comfort and prevents urine marking and unwanted scratching.” Please do note though that in terms of the essential oil diffuser it is of utmost importance to use a species appropriate product such as Pet Remedy and only in it’s intended way. Especially cats react sensitive to oils and improper use or the wrong one can be dangerous.

PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

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2 thoughts on “Stress Awareness Month: Spotting Signs of Stress in Cats 

  1. Stell R Star says:

    Having different eating habits because of stress confirmed what happened when I came back home from a vacation last summer. The cats Sophie and Amelia would come when they were called but only look at their food. They would eat in secret. Eventually they stopped being so frightened, but it took a long time. Their pet-sitter is the best–she’s a vet tech, but they’re terrified of her. Do you have any recommendations to lessen kitty stress and separation anxiety when their humans are away? (We do use Feliway.) I’m worried that Sophie will lick all of her fur off and Amelia will get stuck in the sofa again.

  2. Mary McNeil says:

    Timely article. My orange boy (like in the pictre0 had bloody urine but they found no bacteria. Unfortunately he hates the special food (the one he is supposed to have, for stress, is a chicken vegetable stew. For a cat ???) and getting the meds.

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