Your cat may be unable to tell you they are stressed as felines can be very subtle about their distress. Watching for behavioural changes is crucial so you can pick up on any issues early before they become more serious.
Reasons For Stress Or Anxiety
Cats are creatures of habit and routine and can be sensitive to changes in their everyday life. Have there been significant changes to the household that may be causing stress?
Typical examples include:
- Changes in feeding times
- Moving to a new residence
- The arrival or departure of a family member
- Returning from a holiday
- A new pet addition to the household
- Building work and strangers in the home
It could be your pet is just feeling a little off and will be fine in a day or two, but long-term signs of stress to keep mindful of are as follows.
Not Using The Litter Box
When your cat is toileting outside the litter box, it can be stressful for you and your pet. However, it is important to remember that this behaviour is likely occurring because your cat is trying to tell you something.
Cats are very clean animals, and toileting outside the litter box can indicate something is not right in your cat’s world, especially something medical.
Similarly, is your cat spraying all of a sudden? This is another sign of stress and anxiety, and it is often a way for a male stressed cat to mark their territory.
If there are no new cats in the household or a neighbourhood cat threatening dominance, consult your vet, as it could mean some underlying health issues need to be addressed.
Eating More Or Less Food
Has there been any change in your cat’s appetite? If you’ve noticed that your cat is eating a lot more food than usual, or if they suddenly turn up their nose to all their favourite treats, this can be a sign that something is wrong.
Stress and the fallout from imbalances in diet may manifest themselves in physical symptoms too. Changes to look for in your cat’s health include diarrhoea, vomiting, spotting in urine or faeces and cystitis.
Stressed Cats Groom Excessively
It’s common for cats to react to their stress or anxiety through overgrooming, which can indicate that your cat is having problems.
Cats like to groom fastidiously, so it’s hard to tell as an owner. However, signs of overgrooming are poor coat condition, bald patches and even sores caused by excessive licking.
Scratching is natural, ordinary and necessary for cats, and it keeps their claws healthy and helps them stretch. But scratching the wrong things can be destructive and annoying, and many owners end up with sofas that look like they’ve been lifted from a rubbish tip.
If your cat is scratching their posts more than usual or scratching areas of the house they didn’t before, it could be a sign of stress, anxiety or boredom.
Hostile To Yourself Of Visitors
If your previously loving lap cat is now hostile to your touch and doesn’t want you cuddling up on the sofa, it is a clear sign that something is wrong.
If your cat has always loved visitors but now hisses and is aggressive, this is a sign of distress. Changes in a previously affectionate cat could be stress-related, but often it’s a reaction to pain or illness and should be investigated by a vet.
Is your cat vocalising much more than usual, and has there been any noticeable change in the tone or length of its cries? If the noise is incessant and has become louder, this could be a sign of distress.
Meowing is the primary method of how cats talk to us humans and a change in communication could be the most obvious way a stressed cat is saying something is wrong.
Sleeping, Hiding And Isolation
Cats are naturally nocturnal animals, meaning they sleep in later and stay awake much later than humans. If your cat sleeps more than usual, this could indicate an illness or pain issue.
Take notice if your cat is isolating or hiding away in a wardrobe or under a bed, as a cat’s natural instinct is to hide if it feels scared.
Do You Have A Stressed Cat?
If you notice any of the above signs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your cat is unwell; it could be a reaction to a severe environmental change.
However, having your cat checked over by a vet just in case is a good idea. It will put your mind at ease that you’re doing everything possible to ensure your cat’s well-being.