Cats get stressed from major changes in their lives, such as moving to a new home or a new member in the household. Cats can also get stressed if they have to travel or go to the veterinarian. It may seem odd that cats can get stressed and it may be hard to pinpoint why your cat is stressed.
Causes of Stress
Start to think about changes that have happened recently. Have you been out of the house more; causing your cat to be lonely? Did you get another pet? Is there a new baby? Did something scare your cat recently or did your cat get into an accident? Think about when your cat started to act differently. Have you been forgetting to leave food out for your cat or has the water bowl been forgotten about recently? Cats feel comfortable when they have access to food and water at all times.
When cats are stressed they may appear sick. For example, my cat started throwing up a lot and appeared sick. After numerous visits to the veterinarian, my husband and I monitored her and discovered she was only throwing up when my husband had to leave for work. He would be gone for a few days and our cat would get stressed out and throw up. Next we told our veterinarian and she gave us a few tips to help calm our cat.
Other stress symptoms include irregular urination, spraying, excessive meowing, hiding (perhaps, under the bed), lack of appetite, and hair loss. Excessive scratching of the furniture, rugs, and carpet may also be a sign.
Stress Reducing Tips
1) Cat Pheromones:
What are cat pheromones? Cat pheromones are often recommended by veterinarians for their stress relief benefits. Cat pheromones are similar to pheromones a mother cat puts off and is only detected by cats. It is pretty much a nice, warm hug. It calms cats down and helps them to relax. It also helps with stress symptoms, including the annoying habit of scratching the furniture. Cat pheromones are available in 3 different forms:
The pheromone collar is a very easy way to administer a calming sensation to your cat. Just open the package, place the collar on the cat, adjust the collar, and snip off any extra length. The pheromones last up to 2 weeks, so use it wisely. If you will be out of town, or are traveling with your cat, or making a veterinarian visit, the pheromone collar is perfect. If you want to make the collar last longer, simply take it off your cat when the stressful situation is over and put it away in a plastic bag.
NurtureCALM 24/7 Feline Calming Pheromone Collar and Sentry Calming Collar work great. I have used both collars on my cat and they both worked well. The Sentry Calming Collar does give off a chamomile scent, but if you prefer a scentless collar I would use the NurtureCALM collar. In the first photo shown above, my cat is peacefully sleeping in her NurtureCalm collar.
*The pheromone collar has a white powder residue, but is not harmful to your cat. It is normal!
The pheromone spray is very similar to the collar, however it does not go onto your cat. Spray the pheromones into the room or area your cat will be in. It also works for traveling and trips to the veterinarian. Just spray it in your car prior to bringing your cat and the pheromones will work their magic.
The pheromone plugin works like a fragrance plugin. The plugin is filled with the pheromone and is plugged directly into your wall socket. The pheromones are released into the air automatically and last up to 4 weeks. Refills are available, so you do not have to purchase another plugin.
*If your cat is having stress symptoms in certain rooms (eating, litter, or clawing area), make sure to use the pheromone spray or plugin in that area.
2) Cat Scratchers
Cats claw things to help alleviate stress and to mark their territory. If there is no scratching post for them to claw, they will resort to clawing your furniture.
Scratching posts come in different shapes and sizes. If you have multiple cats, a bigger scratching post or multiple scratching posts may be required. Some scratchers even have toys attached to them or have a dual function; lounger and scratcher in one.
Cat Scratchers pictured:
3) Play with your Cat
Playtime is very important for cats, especially indoor cats. Not only does playing reduce stress, but it also gives your cat exercise and enjoyment.
4) Provide a Safe Home
Safety is important to everyone and it is important to cats. Cats need to feel welcomed and out of harms way. If there is a new animal in the home monitor the interactions between them. You may need to have separate areas for them, including separate feeding areas and bathroom areas.
5) Keep the Food and Water Full
Unless otherwise recommended by your veterinarian for dietary reasons, keep the food and water bowls full. Cats like to know that they can eat whenever they need to and usually develop their own eating schedule. If the food bowl is empty or goes missing, the cat can become stressed and then eat all of the food at once when the food is back again. This can cause unhealthy eating, vomiting from eating too quickly, and stress.