Cats get stressed. They’re sensitive creatures! But because they’re so stoic, it can sometimes be hard to tell when a cat’s super stressed or when it’s just…being a cat.
There’s a lot you and your veterinarian can do to help a cat who’s experiencing stress. First, let’s talk about the signs.
Sign: Excessive Grooming
Cats are known for their grooming habits and a significant amount of grooming – up to an hour or two a day – is normal. But if your cat is licking themselves bald or creating raw spots in the skin? That could be physical manifestation of their anxiety.
Sign: Going Outside the Litter Box
To be fair, sudden changes in bathroom habits can be indicative of a lot of things, including physical pain. But one of the first signs of stress in cats is often litter box avoidance. It can be a cry for help or a response to fear or anxiety.
Sign: Unusual Hiding
Like litter box avoidance, hiding may indicate your cat is experiencing physical pain. But it can also be a sign of extreme stress, especially if your cat has recently experienced a big change like the addition of another pet to the family or a household move. Unusual avoidance is always a sign you should call the vet.
Sign: Loss of Appetite
Look, cats are finicky eaters. It’s probably not a huge deal if your cat decides to go on a hunger strike for a day or two, but if your normally healthy cat stops eating or decides only to eat the bare minimum for days on end, something may be amiss.
Pet news, updates, and special offers
from your friends at Vetted.
Sign: Sudden Aggression
Aggression is a fear response in cats. If a formerly docile cat starts lashing out at other animals or humans in the household, something is up. The behavior is likely a response to some form of stress or anxiety the cat is experiencing but the good news is, identifying the source of the stress usually solves the problem.
Sign: Excessive Sleeping
Cats sleep a lot. Healthy cats sleep up to 20 hours a day, but what you’re looking for here are changes. If your cat usually naps about 14 hours a day and suddenly starts sleeping 20? They may be sleeping more to calm down their anxious brain, or even to replenish their energy stores that are more quickly depleted when their stress hormones are raging.
If you suspect your cat is stressed, talk to your veterinarian. You have a lot of options, from behavioral therapy to anti-anxiety medications, and most of them are relatively simple to implement. Your cat deserves to live a stress-free life.