Our feline companions are sensitive and susceptible to anxiety so why do cats become stressed and what can we do to help?
What does a stressed cat look like?
Cats are incredible creatures (yes, I’m biased, I love cats!) but one of their most impressive skills is hiding underlying problems and exhibiting them as stress. Unless you know the subtle signs to look out for….
- Inappropriate toileting, that can be passing faeces or urine in places they shouldn’t do is one of the most common indicators that your cat may be trying to tell you something. We must be cautious to not simply dismiss inappropriate toileting as ‘naughty’ because our cats are possibly trying to tell us something is wrong
- Over-grooming which can cause hair loss
- Overeating or eating less
- Weight gain/loss
- Poor coat condition, scruffy fur
- A desire to always be close by
- Becoming withdrawn or hiding
So, when home is hectic, a different cat moves into your area, a new baby arrives at home, the builders are working on the bathroom, you buy a lovely new carpet, you host a birthday party or your routine changes, then consider how this may affect your furry family members.
As a result of their sensitive nature cats are prone to Feline Idiopathic Cystitis or FIC This is an inflammation of the bladder with an unknown cause and can result in discomfort when urinating for your cat. You may find them toileting in unusual places (house plants or even the bed), straining to urinate, possibly passing blood in their urine and excessive licking in that area. In fact, 60-70% of feline urinary related conditions can be accredited to FIC.
FIC has the potential to progress into something far more serious, including a bladder infection, bladder stones or a urinary blockage. If you’re concerned that your cat is unproductively straining to urinate, passing blood or producing tiny amounts of urine then call your Vet immediately as this is a veterinary emergency.
How can we help?
If you are worried about your cat, then the first stop must always be your local Vet for a check up to make sure that a health condition or underlying pain, such as cystitis, arthritis or dental problems are causing them stress.
Then there are adaptations we can make at home to help our cats feel safer and happier:
- Create hiding places. Cats like to be high up, so be creative! A box with a blanket, popped on top of a wardrobe or kitchen cupboard works well.
- Use of calming products, like Feliway or Pet Remedy on bedding and inside their cat carrier.
- Keep litter trays, feeding and water bowls all separate and away from windows or doors.
- Provide multiple water bowls and consider using a water fountain to encourage your cat to drink.
- Keep the litter tray fresh and clean, allowing at least one tray per cat in the household plus one more. For example, if you have 2 cats then you will need 3 litter trays.
- Good quality urinary diets and supplements can be helpful and work both short term and long term, please speak to your vet.
Be vigilant and stay alert to subtle changes that may be bothering your cat. It’s easier to resolve a new problem than fix an old established behaviour issue. Don’t ignore changes because they could be an indication of something more serious.
Through our pets app, myBuddy we always provide the best guidance we can to help you with issues that affect your pets, whether cats, dogs, rats, rabbits or reptiles. However, we would always recommend you call your vet or get in touch via the myBuddy app.