Anxiety In Cats
Despite their confident reputation, cats can actually be very sensitive souls.
Sometimes a small change in your cat’s routine or surroundings can cause stress or anxiety. Research and understanding in this area has increased within the last decade allowing us to treat feline behavioural problems more effectively.
If you think your cat has anxiety, contact your local vet for advice.
More about anxiety in cats
How can you know if your cat is anxious?
Cats often have very subtle signs of anxiety, or use body languages that humans may not immediately associate with stress. Therefore, taking time to learn a little about cat behaviour can be really beneficial.
We need to know them well and watch them carefully to understand what they are telling us. Some behaviours to look for include:
- Hiding or withdrawing from attention
- Fleeing or startling easily
- Changes in grooming– especially grooming their belly more frequently
- Changes in appetite
- Change in sleeping habits. Often when seemingly asleep a stressed cat will not be fully relaxed, with tense muscles, lying without exposing their belly and paws kept in contact with the ground
- Increased facial rubbing
- Scratching furniture
- Urine spraying
- Urinating or defecating in inappropriate areas
- Aggression; growling, hissing, scratching or biting
- Developing cystitis, a painful inflammation of the bladder that can be associated with stress in cats
Cats love routine so anything that impacts their normal day-to-day existence can be stressful for them.
- A new baby
- Building works
- A party or celebration
- A new pet, especially another cat
- Another new cat in the area
- Being ill or injured
- Going to a cattery
- A change of litter-type
- An unknown visitor
This list is not exhaustive. Anything that is outside of ‘normal’ for your cat could cause stress. Some cats seem to cope with change relatively well, while others really struggle.
The first thing to do if your cat is showing signs of stress is to work out what is causing the stress. This can be very difficult!
Speaking with your vet can help you narrow it down, and also means your cat gets a full check over. A health check is helpful, as some conditions can mimic stress – for example painful joints from arthritis may cause your cat to toilet inside and seem out of sorts, both signs also seen with stress.
If you can isolate what is causing the stress then separating your cat from this is the best method. Some top tips include:
- Microchip cat flaps mean no unwanted visitors to the house
- Drawing the curtains to the garden may stop your cat spotting a new neighbourhood cat and feeling threatened
- Feliway sprays and diffusers use pheromones to calm anxious cats
- If you have young children or a dog, consider using baby gates to allow private access to ‘safe’ areas for your cat
- Provide high, comfortable places for your cat to sleep
- Keep internal doors open
- Keep food, water and litter trays separate and easily accessible. Use multiples to increase ease of access if possible.
If you have a multi-cat household, this can be stressful for cats who aren’t bonded.
They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. It’s worth considering the effect moving can have on your cat – everything in their world suddenly changes!Read more here about moving house with your cat.
We like nothing more than a good get together, be that family, friends or both!
Holidays are a great time to catch up with all the family, but your cat might not be as keen to see lots of new faces in their home. Make sure they have a quiet place to retreat to and check out our specific holiday advice for more information.