While your cat may not appear to be stressed out as she snoozes in a ray of sunlight, stress is a serious concern for feline companions. Many common medical conditions in cats are triggered or worsened by stress. There are many natural approaches cat owners can take to reduce anxiety and make a feline feel more secure.
It’s important for guardians of cats to know the symptoms of stress in felines. Recognizing the signs that your cat is anxious will alert you to the problem and give you the opportunity to be proactive in addressing your cat’s needs. Common manifestation of stress in cats include spraying (even if the cat is neutered), urinating and defecating outside the litter box, pacing, lack of appetite, pulling out fur, trembling, excessive vocalization and hiding.
In addition to knowing the symptoms of stress in cats, the feline guardian should know the situations that are likely to cause their cat to feel anxious. Taking steps to reassure your cat before he ever shows signs of stress may prevent anxiety from ever occurring. Common causes of stress in cats include living in a home that is overcrowded with cats, moving to a new house, travel, new family members, new pets, visitors in the home, being sick or injured, being confined and other types of change. For some cats, something as simple as moving the furniture can induce stress.
Establish a routine for your cat. Your cat will feel more secure if he knows that meals, play, naps and an opportunity to cuddle with you occur at the same time everyday. It is especially important to ensure that you stick as close to the routine as possible during times that may be stressful for your cat.
Though it may seem strange to humans, the litter box is a big deal in your cat’s world. If your cat isn’t happy with her litter box, you’re going to have problems—including a stressed out feline. Ensure your cat’s box is in a location she can easily access. Place the litter box in an area where the cat get to it without having to go past children or dogs. And, ensure that other cats in the house aren’t guarding the box and preventing the cat from accessing it. It’s also important to keep the box especially clean. A dirty litter box is a major stress factor for cats.
Pheromones are one of the most effective means of helping a cat to feel secure. If you know your cat is facing a situation that is likely to cause anxiety, plugging in a Feliway diffuser can work wonders. Feliway is a product that mimics the friendly pheromones cats release when they rub their faces on objects, people or animals. Feliway is especially effective in stopping spraying and urinating outside the box. It also helps the cat to feel safer in a threatening situation.
In addition to Feliway, some cat guardians have found that aromatherapy with lavender helps to calm their cats. Massage and herbal treatment with valerian is also helpful. Many animal rescue organizations use a few drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic therapy, in the water bowls of stressed cats.