Many problems and conditions we encounter in our feline housemates have roots in stress and anxiety. Pet owners tend to giggle when we suggest their cat may be stressed, but the staff at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates sees it all the time. Keep reading to learn more about cat anxiety and how to stop it before it starts.

The Dilemma of the Modern Housecat

Chances are that your cat probably leads a pretty cushy life. Breakfast and dinner served, days of lounging in a snuggly spot, and plenty of catnip… What’s not to love? This is probably the reason that many clients are shocked to hear that their cat might be stressed.

Cats are certainly different animals than people or even dogs, and many sources of cat anxiety are rooted in their natural behaviors. The feline species has evolved to be fierce solitary hunters in their own territory. When we bring them indoors to be part of our family, we change the dynamic of their normal functioning.

Pet cats have different behavioral requirements than their less tame counterparts because of the following:

  • Often live mostly or totally indoors
  • Must integrate into a social structure including people and other animals
  • Do not need to hunt for food
  • May not have access to resources/activities they might engage in otherwise, such as climbing to hide from predators and/or hunting
  • Are subjected to stimuli that may be perceived as threatening

The root of most cat anxiety lies in these basic changes. By bringing cats indoors to be part of our family, we’re in some ways preventing them from being cats.

Cat anxiety can result in many undesirable and unhealthy outcomes. This may include overgrooming, aggression, or urinating/defecating outside the litter box. Stress can also bring on illnesses such as upper respiratory infections or cystitis (bladder inflammation).

Cat Anxiety Triggers and What You Can Do

While it stinks to learn that you may be the source of your cat’s stress, you must also recognize that you have a lot of power to help your pet live a great life. Recognizing major sources of cat anxiety is a great place to start. Some of the most common reasons your cat may be feeling a little stressed include:

Changing lifestyle — It’s difficult for an outdoor cat to transition to indoor living and vice versa. Major lifestyle changes are a large source of kitty stress.

Interpersonal skills — Your cat is very sensitive to who shares their space. Welcoming a new roommate (human or animal) or bringing home a new baby can really shake things up, as can someone leaving after a breakup or extended stay.

Household happenings — That bathroom you’re remodeling, the cocktail party you’re hosting, or even the living room that you rearranged yesterday can have a dramatic impact on your cat’s life.

Travel — Cats tend to be homebodies, clinging to their territory closely. Boarding your pet, moving, or taking them on vacation can really upset things. Bringing your pet in to see us can also bring on stress.

It’s important to recognize things that may bring on stress in your cat and do your best to preemptively combat cat anxiety. Make any necessary transitions for your cat as smooth as possible. The Indoor Pet Initiative has good suggestions for easing your pet through common stress triggers.

It’s also important to maintain a sense of stability and routine for cats during periods of stress (products like Feliway can bring your cat a sense of security). Enriching your kitty’s environment can be helpful, as well.

We’re proud to be your partner in bettering your cat’s life and overall health and well being. Please call us today if you have any questions or concerns related to cat anxiety and stress.