The Hervey Foundation for Cats
Spotting the Signs of Stress in Your Cat

Spotting the Signs of Stress in Your Cat

Stress and anxiety are no walk in the park. We all know how debilitating they can be, and what sorts of effects they can have on our relationships. Animals are no different – they experience stress as well. Think about how much stress you might feel if you were sick, hurt, uncomfortable, scared, or any other heavy emotion, paired with being unable to communicate with the people in your life. 

Many behavioural changes in cats can be boiled down to stress. As their owner, learning to spot the signs can improve not just their lives, but yours too! When cats are stressed out, they might react in a number of ways that are less than ideal. You can prevent this from happening by maintaining a strong relationship with your cat. 

Signs a Cat is Stressed

Cats are expressive animals, and they will let you know what is wrong through their behaviour. Since cats are motivated by survival, certain stressors might cause them to react in different ways. 

Some of the signs a cat is living with stress include hiding for long periods of time (or all day every day), eating less or skipping meals, avoiding certain places or people, overgrooming, increased vocality, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. 

At the end of the day, many of these symptoms can also be attributed to other illnesses and if your cat is experiencing them regularly, you should contact your vet. 

Finding the Cause of Your Cat’s Stress

Finding the cause of your cat’s issues might not be the easiest thing to do, but with some reflection, and a little empathy, you might be able to determine the “cat-alyst”. Things that commonly stress cats out include:

  • Moving to a new home
  • Changing the furniture in a room they frequent
  • Throwing out items with their scent
  • New animals in the home
  • New people in the home
  • Constant loud noises
  • Yelling
  • Changes to their food, water, or litter box
  • And many more

Think about what may have changed in or around your home at the same time you noticed your cat started dealing with more stress.

How to Help Your Stressed-Out Cat

A stressed-out cat doesn’t have to remain a stressed-out cat. Some things can be done to help them. The first thing to be sure of is that their needs are being met. Make sure they have regular access to food, water, and litter. Make sure the food they are receiving is of higher quality and it’s not leaving them feeling sick or uncomfortable. Set up ample places around the home for them to sleep, relax, or hide, and make sure they have their own toys, scratching posts and other accoutrements. 

If changes to their environment might be the trigger, try to undo them as best you can. In the case of drastic changes, such as a new carpet installation or a move, adding as many items as you can to the room/home that still have your cat’s scent on them can help.

Lastly, in truly desperate or extreme cases, if a cat is unable to relax or get to a place where they can safely interact with people without looking over their shoulder, something like kitty anti-depressants might be necessary. This is not a decision that should ever be made on your own. Before considering medication, always talk to your vet first. 

Final Thoughts

Cats are interesting little creatures who experience a lot of the same emotions we do. What triggers those emotions are where the differences lie, and as their owners, we need to be cognizant of how the decisions we make affect them. We hold the keys to their happiness and it’s up to us to pay attention and try to help them when they need it. 


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