Friday, June 5, 2015

How to Relieve Cat Stress

Black and white cat yawning
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed how to tell if your cat is stressed.  While it would be wonderful if we could simply remove the stressor from our cat's life, this isn't often possible.  If you believe your kitty is experiencing stress, you may want to try one or more of these stress-relieving strategies to help your kitty cope.

Play: Playing with your cat can help reduce her stress.  Engage your cat in 10-15 minute interactive play sessions twice a day to help her relax.  Many kitties enjoy fishing pole type toys.  Others may prefer to play fetch or chase after balls with bells in them.  The Humane Society of the United States suggests setting a few toys aside specifically for interactive play sessions with your cat.  Only use these toys when it's time for you and your kitty to play together.  

Between interactive play sessions, provide your companion with toys he can play with on his own.  Many kitties enjoy catnip toys.  Your cat might also like balls, toy mice, crinkle balls, and puzzle toys.  To keep your kitty from getting bored with his toys, rotate them every few days.  

Environmental Enrichment: One cause of stress in felines is boredom.  Providing your cat with an interesting and enriching environment can ward off boredom and stress.  Provide your kitty with sturdy scratching posts.  Ideally you want to give your cat a few scratching posts in different shapes and sizes.

Cat taking a nap while hugging a toyLots of cats enjoy looking out the window.  To make the experience more pleasurable for your kitty, buy her a window perch or put a comfortable bed by the window for her.  Placing a bird feeder outside the window will attract birds to entertain your kitty.  

Provide your companion with comfortable spots to nap.  Carmine and Milita can choose to nap in cat beds, cushy cubes, or on fleece blankets.  Of course, they are always welcome to steal my bed if they want, too.  As mentioned earlier, rotating your cat's toys every few days will help prevent boredom as well.  Cat DVDs, music, and puzzle toys are other great ways to enrich your feline's environment.  Give your cat something fun to do while you're away by hiding a few treats or toys around the house for her to find.  

Provide Enough Resources: If you live in a multicat household, it's essential to provide enough resources for every cat in the home.  A good rule of thumb is to provide one of each resource for each cat in the home plus one.  For instance, if you have three cats, you should have four litter boxes and feeding stations placed throughout your home.  I divide up Carmine and Milita's allotted amount of daily kibble into three separate bowls.  They have never fought over food, but having three separate feeding stations ensures that they can both eat at the same time, and there is never any competition over the food bowl.  

Cats need to feel safe and secure in their homes as well.  That's why it's important to provide cats, especially those in a multicat household, with numerous hiding spots, resting places, and high spots.  Boxes, cat cubes, condos, trees, closets, and cat carriers are all great places for kitties to hide.  Bookshelves, desks, cat trees, and shelves make good safe high places for cats to hang out.  Providing your cats with plenty of choices reduces the likelihood that your kitties will fight over hiding places and high spots and helps ensure all of your cats feel safe and secure.  

If tension exists in your multicat home, you may need to reintroduce your cats or employ the advice of a cat behavior expert.  Tackle multicat tension early whenever possible.

Greay cat laying outside

Calming Aids: Another thing you can try is a calming aid.  Calming aids include collars, sprays, and plug-ins that use or mimic feline pheromones to give your cat a sense of well-being.  We have had good results with Comfort Zone (Feliway) plug-ins and Sentry calming collars.  These calming aids have been especially helpful to Carmine and Milita during moves and after Jewel's passing.  

Stick to a Routine: Cats are creatures of habit and do not like change.  Sticking to a routine is one of the best ways to prevent your cat from experiencing stress.  When you know you will need to change your kitty's routine, do so gradually whenever possible.  For instance, if you need to change your kitty's dinnertime, do so by gradually moving her dinnertime forward or backward.  Likewise, if you are expecting a baby, gradually get your cat used to the sights, sounds, and smell of a newborn before your due date.  

If you are expecting a short-term change that will interrupt your companion's regular routine, return to the old routine as soon as possible.  For example, if you go on vacation, resume your cat's regular routine as soon as your return home.  

Orange cat laying in the grass
Natural Remedies:  Some herbs are also useful for reducing stress in cats.  Remember that it is always best to consult your veterinarian before beginning any type of treatment, including using herbs to treat cat stress.

  • Catnip: You're probably wondering why catnip is being suggested for cat stress when it tends to rile kitties up.  PetMD suggests giving catnip approximately 15 minutes before you know a stressor will occur, such as a trip to the vet.  After your cat runs around at high speed for a few minutes, he will become tired and calm.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile acts as an anti-anxiety agent for cats.  PetMD recommends putting the dried flowers into a tube collar or making a little pouch with the dried flowers inside so that your cat doesn't eat it.
  • Valerian: Valerian is said to act like catnip with one difference.  After your kitty's initial craziness, valerian is more likely to make your cat sleep.  Some humans use valerian for insomnia as well.
  • Bach Rescue Remedy: Rescue Remedy is know to calm anxiety in cats and dogs as well as in humans.  Perhaps the greatest benefit of Rescue Remedy is that it works immediately, so it is a good choice when you need to calm your kitty right away.  Please ensure that you give your cat the Rescue Remedy formula that does not contain alcohol.  
It would be great if we could remove all of our feline's stress triggers.  Unfortunately, that's not usually possible.  If you believe your cat is stressed out, I hope you'll try some of these strategies to help relieve your kitty's stress.  

How do you relieve your cat's stress?



  1. If you don't have catnip, peppermint extract can also work (same family as catnip). Dab a bit on a towel and present to the kitty and see what happens!

  2. Once again, spot on! Helpful and easy to read!
    Playtime is very helpful in this household. MOL

  3. The peeps haven't totally figured out how to destress me, but I keep telling them I want more high places to hang out!

  4. Truffle tends to get more stressed than Brulee, but it's usually because Mom Paula is gone or there's a thunderstorm. Excellent recommendations.

  5. Dad plays with us daily and that sure is a stress buster. Now if we can get Einstein to not hog all the toys...

  6. Lots of good information. I have found that some families of cats all tend to be on the nervous side. Also I think stress comes from the cats enviroment. Take care.

  7. guys...way awesum post...thanx for sharin...N we ree leeve R stress bye tellin de food serviss gurl ta leeve de houz !!!!!!!!! ☺☺☺

    heerz two a righteye flounder kinda week oh end ! ♥♥♥

  8. Stress is a bad thing, so this is helpfur to us to learn about.
    Meowmy uses catnip...and chamomile, and she uses those herself, too, MOL!

  9. Lots of good tips there. Me and my mum spend a lot of time playing or just cuddling together.

  10. Purrfect tips! Our mom is stressed right now and life is a bit chaotic because of our grandhuman, and so we're not getting the playtime enrichment we should. Don't you think she should bring someone in every day just to play wand toy with us????

  11. Excellent post I didn't now about valerian. I have a cat with feline hyperesthesia and she is so calm after she gets to play.

  12. Great post! We are lucky that we don't have much stress here.

    Mom buys the cat duckies online but you have to buy three sets of four each time. That's okay because she always donates them for the auctions.

  13. Great information ! Mum tries to play with each of us at least once a day, even if we can go outside in our fence and have a lot of other toys. Purrs

  14. Isn't it crazy how much stress makes a difference in us and our cats? We can be like a whole different person (or cat) when we're stressed. I love the catnip remedy. It works really well for Cinco and Manna and it actually works well for me too.

  15. Great advice... we engage in playtime regularly with our cats to keep them happy, healthy and stress free.

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