Causes of Cat Stress
Any change, big or small, in a cat's environment or body can cause her stress. As with humans, some kitties are more sensitive to stress than others. More sensitive cats may be affected by very small stress triggers while a less sensitive cat may only be affected by major stress triggers. Your cat may be affected by physical, environmental, or emotional stress.
- Physical: When your cat experiences changes or trauma to his body, he is dealing with physical stress. Physical stressors include surgical procedures, physical abuse, neglect, starvation, injury, illness, obesity, and having fleas or ticks.
- Emotional: Changes that affect a kitty's psychological state can also be stressful. Lack of mental stimulation (boredom), death of an animal companion or human living within the home, the addition of a companion or human to the home, and the prolonged absence of a pet or human are all examples of psychological stressors.
- Environmental: Environmental stress occurs when a cat is faced with a change in his surroundings. A change in litter or food brand, having only one feeding station or litter box in a multi-cat household, visitors, loud music, home renovations, seeing another cat in his territory, hearing a barking dog, and natural disasters are examples of environmental stress. Cats may also be stressed by moving, going to the veterinarian, new furniture, rearranging existing furniture, and being denied access to hiding places.
Symptoms of Stress
The symptoms of stress you observe in your cat will depend on whether your cat is experiencing acute or chronic stress.
Acute Stress: Acute stress occurs when an unexpected (short-term) change or threat occurs. It is usually pretty easy to tell if your kitty is experiencing acute stress.
Signs that your companion is experiencing acute stress include:
- Being crouched down on all fours with the tail close to the body.
- Fully dilated pupils, ears flattened against the head, and whiskers back.
- Hissing or growling.
- May be aggressive if approached.
- Involuntary defecation or urination.
Signs that your cat is experiencing chronic stress include:
- Excessive grooming, which may result in psychogenic alopecia, or undergrooming, which may result in dirty or matted fur.
- Changes in appetite.
- Increased sleepiness.
- Urinating or defecating outside the litter box.
- Less interaction with family members or increased attention-seeking behavior. Clingy behavior.
- Changes in relationships with the other companion animals in the home.
- Excessive vocalization.
Remember that cats are unique, and the way your cat shows stress may be different than the way another cat exhibits stress.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, please take her to your veterinarian for a thorough physical examination to rule out medical problems. If no medical cause can be found, your cat may be experiencing stress. Please join us next Friday as we explore ways to reduce and relieve your cat's stress.
How can you tell when your cat is stressed?
Medic Animal: Understanding How to Identify Stress in Your Cat and the Common Causes Contributing to Anxiety.