A kitten lying down pawing at a cat looking down at it. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Anxiety and stress can harm your cat’s mental and physical health. Anxiety is a feeling of restlessness and fear due to the anticipation of danger, and stress is a quick response to threats the cat may anticipate. A cat that is anxious or stressed can be very damaging to its well-being.

In this article, you will learn about some signs of anxiety and stress in a cat and some of the causes or triggers. You will also learn how to effectively reduce your cat’s anxiety and stress to help them live a happier and healthier life.

Signs of Anxiety and Stress in a Cat

Physical manifestations of anxiety and stress in cats include:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Eye contact avoidance
  • Dilated pupils
  • Trembling
  • Salivation
  • Increased grooming
  • Hiding
  • Ears back
  • Hiding
  • Improper toilet etiquette (refusing to use the litter box or spraying)
  • Freezing or trying to scape
  • Piloerection or hair standing up
  • Destructive behavior
  • Aggression

The 5 Tips to Reduce Your Cat’s Anxiety and Stress

1.Rule out any medical condition

Pain and discomfort will cause a cat to suffer from stress and anxiety. So, the first step will be to make sure your cat is not in pain or sick. A complete physical evaluation to check the body and maybe some blood work and diagnostic imaging will be needed to rule out that an underlying medical issue is causing your cat’s anxiety. A visit to the veterinary clinic is a must if your cat presents sudden changes in behavior.

2.Make Sure All Your Cat’s Needs Are Met

This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised at how cat owners can be unaware of cat’s needs not being met.

3.Study the Environment

Try to identify if any recognizable changes in the cat’s environment could be causing its anxiety. New pets, kids, changes of food, noises? Any change of routine or environment should be planned and gradually introduced with cats. Cats are very sensitive to changes but are even more sensitive if it suffers from anxiety. By recognizing the specific scenario causing anxiety, you can manage it before a crisis starts.

4.The Social Environment

For multiple cat households, you need to ensure there is no displacement or aggressive behavior between cats. Each cat should feel safe and meet its basic needs, including food and water access and a safe space. Hormonal changes can cause variations in the cat’s social interactions, and, as a responsible multi-cat owner, you should always be observant of the cat’s interaction to make sure every cat can feel safe. If you notice displacement and aggressions, separating the cats and starting with some positive socialization training will be necessary.

5.Recognize Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a fairly common problem in pets. If you must be away working most of the day, try leaving entertainment and interactive toys to keep your cat engaged. Do not make a big deal when leaving or when arriving back in the house. If these methods don’t work, consider getting a pet sitter or a second cat to keep your lonely cat company while you are away.

Conclusion

If your cat suffers from anxiety and stress, it is better to act early to avoid unnecessary suffering and complication of cases. After making sure there are no underlying medical issues behind your cat’s stress, there are several behavioral and natural methods to try before looking into the possibility of anti-anxiety prescription medications.

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