Many people assume that stress and anxiety is an emotion that only humans feel. However, this is hardly the case. In fact, some animals may be far more susceptible to stress than you or any other human member of your household. Cats in particular, are household pets that are prone to stress and will let you know that something is amiss. The problem is that many cat owners do not realize that the behaviors and changes in their cat may be a sign of stress rather than disease or general misbehavior. So, get to know more about stress in cats and what you can do to prevent and treat it.

How Your Cat Acts When Stressed

As you may already know, cats have no problem telling you when they are unhappy with you or something around them. They react in similar, if not sometimes more extreme ways when experiencing stress.

One common example of feline stress reactions is to begin to urinate and defecate outside of their litter box. This may simply appear as if they are missing their box and staying in the area of that box, or your cat may start to go on the beds, couches, and all throughout the house.

Other common ways a cat will show they are stressed are to clean or lick themselves excessively (sometimes tearing out fur completely), to become more aloof than usual, to be aggressive and combative, to have strained or otherwise altered interactions with people and pets in the house, and may even begin to hide from you. Not all cats will exhibit all symptoms when they are stressed, so it is important to take note even if they have only one or two of them.

Preventing Stress In Cats

Various changes in your home can cause your cat to feel stressed out. These may be major changes such as a move to a new house, the addition of a family member or major home remodeling. Alternatively, changes that seem minor to you like rearranging furniture, or even changes in home odor like using different household cleaners.

When at all possible, you should try to ease your cat into changes in the home environment. If you can, remain consistent in the products and scents you introduce into your home, this will help to reduce stress. If changes must be made, be sure that you pay close attention to your cat and their behavior and try to provide them the comfort they may need.

Dealing With Feline Stress

In addition to providing your cat comfort with love and attention, you may need to take other steps to reduce stress in your cat. If you change your flooring in a home remodel, for example, you may need to gradually re-introduce your cat to those areas of the house. Put their toys into that room, or place an extra litter box in the room (temporarily even) to ensure them that the house is still theirs. 

Some cats cannot overcome stress without veterinary care. If your cat is still exhibiting problem behaviors even after all of your efforts, take them to the vet. They will first rule out any other health issues your cat may have. When it turns out that your cat is reacting to stress,  your vet will likely administer a cat medication such as an antidepressant or sedative to help reduce their stress behaviors and allow them to get re-acclimated to their situation.

Now that you have an idea of what stress in cats looks like and how to deal with it, you can take better care of your cat if they ever become overly stressed.