Warning signs and remedies for cat stress and anxiety

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cat hiding under sofa - cat stress and anxietyGuest Post by Kamira Gayle, Author & Creator of Impurrfectlife.com –A blog about finding joy, life inspiration and comfort after pet loss.

Cats are some cool characters. Not only are they adorable and give unconditional love to us, they mosey around the house nonchalant without a care in the world; well that is until they don’t. Do you have a cat that is nervous and skittish at times? Is your cat always anxious? If your cat suffers from anxiety you want to find ways to help alleviate this problem and bring your cat back to a state of relaxation, but what can you do about it? Well first you’ll need to get to the root of the issue and from there find solutions to help relieve your cat from anxiety and stress.

So, let’s first address the signs your cat may display when stressed or suffering from anxiety.

Warning Signs for cat stress & anxiety

According to PetMD.com the following 9 signs are indicative of anxiety and/or stress in cats.

  • Urinating outside the litter box

This indicates a behavioral problem or potentially something more serious medically. You should take your cat to the vet to get checked out.

  • Bowel issues (Constipation/Diarrhea)

Your cat has trouble going to the bathroom or has loose and runny stools. This could be stress induced, due to diet or indicates a potential medical issue so you should see your veterinarian.

  • Excessive Grooming

Grooming in excess to the point of being raw or bald is a sign something’s wrong and your cat is in distress

Can be an indication of health or behavioral issues

  • Isolation

Cats are known to have a more independent and aloof nature however if they are avoiding you, take them to the vet to get checked out. Something is wrong.

  • Excessive vocalization

If your cat is vocalizing more than normal, they are probably trying to tell you something and get your attention.

  • Decreased appetite

Decrease in hunger and drinking water are warning signs something is wrong. Cats cannot go without food and hydration without dire consequences. So, take them to the vet to determine what ‘s going on.

  • Increased sleeping

Cats are known to sleep most of the day however as a pet parent, you are used to knowing your cats “normal” routine. So, if they are acting out of the ordinary, don’t dismiss your instincts. Take them to the vet. Cats are often the master of disguising their issues, so best to rule out if anything is wrong and take them to the vet in case.

  • Aggression towards other people or other animals

This can be a sign of a sick or stressed cat.

cat and dog together - cat stress and anxiety

Causes of cat stress & anxiety

According to PetEducation.com causes of stress and anxiety in cats, breaks down into three areas:

Environmental Stress

  • Moving into a new house or apartment
  • Too many animals in the household
  • Undue confinement
  • Lack of fresh air and/or sunshine, especially if the cat was used to going outside
  • Change in daily routine, such as during the holidays.

Physical Stress

  • Obesity
  • Illness
  • Physical trauma
  • Surgical procedures
  • Fleas, worms, or other parasites

Emotional Stress

  • Boredom and loneliness
  • Death of human or animal family member
  • Fear
  • Rivalry/jealousy
  • Other changes in the number of human or animal family members

cat stress and anxiety

Cat stress and anxiety remedies

So, with all this in mind, how can you help your cat? The solution to your problem will depend on the cause. Here are some helpful tips to help alleviate stress and anxiety in your cat.

  • Is your cat showing signs of anxiety and stress in the home and you are able to eliminate the source, do so. If that doesn’t work and your cat is exhibiting physical or emotional stress signs, take them to the veterinarian for a checkup to see if they are ill or have a chronic condition that needs treatment.
  • If your cat is suffering stress due to environmental changes in the home like new pets or a new baby. Take time to slowly introduce your cat to the new family member little by little and supervised. This may take several weeks.
  • If your cat is urinating outside the litter box in the home, try introducing more than one litter box. This is especially important in multi-cat/pet homes. If the problem persists, a visit to the vet is in order.
  • If your cat is stressed due to boredom or lack of stimulation, cattify your home. Add a cat tree, scratching post or plenty of window perches/shelves to your home to allow your cat to climb and roam. This provides mental stimulation and cats love to take advantage of vertical space.
  • Incorporate playtime and fun for your cat as well. Cats sometimes act out because they have pent-up energy they need to release daily. Being cooped up indoors all day without a way to release that energy in a positive way can result in displays of aggression or biting. So, get out the laser pointer or other toys for your cat to play with and get some physical activity and fun.
  • Also, don’t underestimate the power of catnip or other herbs to help stimulate or calm your cat as well.
  • Keep your home environment calm and inviting. If you love loud music, you should consider turning down the volume. Do you love to have company over? Consider limiting the frequency of visitors and strangers coming over. If that’s not possible, consider giving your cat(s) a separate room so they can have a peaceful, quiet environment to roam.
  • In multiple pet households, be sure to have more than one litter box and also multiple food dishes to reduce competition among animals for food. This will make things less stressful.
  • If your cat is stressed and annoyed with skin issues and scratches, they may suffer from fleas. Visit your vet and also consider flea shampoo treatments as well to alleviate the problem.
  • Keep on top of hygiene and maintenance as well. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed short to prevent long nails digging into their pads which can be painful and create stress in your cat.

If you find you’ve taken your cat to the vet and all is in order health wise, your cat just may have anxiety and stress because they don’t spend enough quality time with you. So, cut out a few minutes each day to bond. It’s not necessarily about quantity of time as much as quality.

cat stress and anxiety

Cats are cool characters however even they can become stressed and anxiety ridden. Whether the cause is behavioral, environmental or physical do your best to care for your cat and pay attention to the signs. Rule out any potential illness or conditions and visit your veterinarian. Once you find out the root cause of the stress, take steps to eliminate it. This may require patience and time on your part. However, when it all is said and done, you’ll have a happy healthy cat on your hands.

Did you like these tips to relieve stress in cats? Have you tried any of these solutions? Would you add anything else? Comment and share your experience below.


13 responses to “Warning signs and remedies for cat stress and anxiety”

  1. Wow, this is a great article with so much helpful information. My cat definitely picks up my stress (or other human stress). She becomes more vocal and does occasionally over groom herself.

    • Jon Baily says:

      I’m working through the tips with my own cat – she has become stressed after moving home and is over grooming. We are seeing some improvement with her. Let us know how you get on with your cat.

    • CPCCares says:

      I’m working through the tips as well – my cat is over grooming since we moved home. We are beginning to see an improvement with her. Please let us know how you get on with your cat. All the best and thanks for commenting.

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  3. Zoe Campos says:

    It really helped when you said that seeing my cat avoid me might be a sign that she’s sick. She’s not the cuddly type so I’m not sure if she’s showing her usual behavior or if there’s really something wrong with her. I guess bringing her to an animal clinic can help me understand her more.

  4. Christine says:

    I just got a rescue cat, he’s 11 yrs old. I showed him the litter tray and his food. After 24 hours he was really moaning, climbed on the sofa and pooped. Is this normal? I’m assuming it is stress being in a new environment.

    • Jon says:

      Good morning Christine, do you know anything about your cat’s background. It may be that he’s never seen a litter tray before. I would imagine that with a little guidance he will catch on quite quickly. Good luck with your adoptee. Jon on behalf of CPC.

  5. Yendy says:

    Hi, I have an issue in which my cat always bites me until bleeding for no reason. She likes to attack my foot (from behind), grab it and bite it. Do you have any suggestions for solving this problem?

    • Jon says:

      Hi Yendy, I have seen a piece from Jackson Galaxy on this. I think your cat is enjoying the reaction she gets from attacking your foot. It ties into her hunting instinct. To get her to stop, the suggestion I saw was to stop reacting. You can do this by wearing shoes that protect your feet and ankles. When your cat attacks you won’t be hurt so there is no reaction. This removes the “reward” of attacking your feet.

      You may also try playing with cat toys more often which will redirect and drain your cat’s energy. After a while you should be able to go back to slippers or your normal foot wear.

      Please let us know how you get on.

  6. Helena says:

    Thanks for the article. I’m having so many issues with my kitten and runny poop and despite countless visits to the vet, medicine, dewormers, parasite meds, vet prescribed diet… she is still not better. I’m wondering now if she is stressed because I work out and she must stay behind the baby gate so my older cat can have some peace.

  7. Sarah says:

    I have a 10 year old rescue cat, that I have had for just under a year. He grew up as an indoor cat. He keeps getting diarrhea, I have taken him to the vet and we have done blood tests, and all seems fine.
    I am a teacher, so get almost 2 months off during the summer, and during that time, the diarrhea seemed to go away. Also during my school holiday I would let him into my small sheltered garden, and he would often sit out there for just about half an hour during the day.
    However, unfortunately he doesn’t understand how the cat flap works, so can’t go outside if I am not home. Since I have started back at school, the diarrhea has returned. I have been spraying feliway on places where he sleeps and will put in place some of the things outlined above. I was wondering whether there were any other tips I could try as it is getting to the point that he is losing weight.

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