All cats, like humans, can suffer from stress. In fact, they are very sensitive to changes in the environment and that makes them highly stressful.
In principle, stress is not bad. It is a physiological response to what the animal perceives as a danger. The survival instinct rises to the surface and you prepare to fight or escape from that threat. But what happens when that stress is disproportionate to the danger present in the environment or is prolonged over time?
Well, it can affect very importantly both their physical and mental health and cause important changes in the behavior of the animal.
What symptoms does a stressed cat show?
There are certain behavioral and also physical changes in cats that can set off the alarms of their caregivers. Therefore, it is convenient to be vigilant to detect them and thus be able to treat this problem before it worsens. These are some of the most common:
- He relieves himself outside the sandbox or in unusual places in the house.
- Shows compulsive behaviors or also called stereotypies: licking excessively, spasmodically contracting the muscles of the back, self-harm…
- Eat less, overeat, or stop eating altogether.
- In some cases the cat can ingest foreign objects such as pieces of cloth.
- Marks with urine or nails more than usual.
- Open your mouth in an exaggerated or continuous way.
- He is especially attached.
- In other cases, he increases aggressiveness or is elusive.
- Excessive vocalization.
What diseases can a stressed cat suffer from?
Our cat does not always have to contract any illness due to stress. Even with everything, here are some of the diseases that could be a consequence of this problem:
- Bronchial asthma.
- Increase in autoimmune diseases.
What factors can cause stress in cats?
Almost all of the triggers that can cause or exacerbate stress in the cat are environmental in origin. Felines are very sensitive animals, so these changes in the environment can provoke an emotional reaction in the cat and affect its behavior and health. Some of the situations that frequently generate anxiety in cats are:
- Inadequate early socialization.
- Badly prepared environment.
- Conflictive situations and punishments.
- Manipulations, transfers or forced immobilization.
- Loud and constant noises.
- The arrival of a new member of the family.
- Furniture changes or home renovations.
- Changes in routines.
- Prolonged loneliness.
- Visits from strangers to the house, especially if the interactions result in a problem.
In most cases, there is more than one cause of stress but it must also be taken into account that, sometimes, the cause of stress may not be found. In this case, it is advisable to consult with the veterinarian.
How to prevent and treat stress?
Whether you want to prevent stress or treat it if the cat already shows any symptoms, these are some of the recommendations to follow:
- If the cat is still young, let’s promote adequate early socialization.
- Take care of your health with a good diet, good hygiene, periodic veterinary check-ups …
- Improve your environment by providing independent spaces for hygiene, food and rest, as well as shelters or safe and quiet places where you can take refuge without being disturbed by anyone.
- Stimulate both physically and mentally with toys, play areas, scratchers …
- Try to make any changes that may affect you progressively.
- Use sprays, necklaces, and accessories that contain pheromones. These products mimic the pheromones that cats use to mark their territory and make them feel more secure.