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What are causes of stress for cats and how to help them cope?

Updated on September 30, 2007

Effects stress might have on your body, your mental and emotional well being are well known. But your feline companions can be prone to stress as well. The reasons behind cat's stress might be different from your own, however the effects are the same. Stress can sometimes lead to changes in behavior such as aggression or aggressive biting, depression or litter box problems.

Causes of stress for your cat can be of both emotional and/or environmental nature. But if you boil it down cats do not like change as I have learned when I went away on holiday this summer. One of our cats started pooping outside the litter box and lo and behold once I have returned he has retreated back to his litter box.

Emotional sources of stress in cats usually means a new addition to the family, be it another cat or a baby. We will look at what is the best way to introduce new cats to your household in another article, however some cats will detest the newest addition simply because it means a change in their own routine and environment.

Another emotional source of stress is a loss of a family member as they can get very attached to their owners. It means your cat will go through grieving process maybe not to the same extent as you would, but it is grieving process all the same. The same applies to the absence of owner, be it a holiday, weekend away or a new job that comes as a change of routine. Your cat does not know if you are leaving for a few hours or a longer period of time. It would be advisable to prepare your cat before you start a new job by leaving for extended periods of time, as this will give your cat a chance to adjust more easily. When you do come back, have some bonding time, as they will start looking forward to your return, as it will mean cuddle time.

Another thing that might be a great source of stress for your cat is moving apartment, houses or having work done on your home. These all mean a change in surroundings and routine. If you are moving, the best would be to prepare a safe room for your cat in your new home as this will make the transition more easy. Things such as your cat's bed, blanket, toys, litter box and food and water bowls should all be placed in this room as this will A) give your cat time to adjust and minimize stress as he/she will be surrounded by things that are familiar and B) it will give you plenty of time to unpack and settle in a new household.

While all of the preventive measures above should help you minimize stress in your cat, sometimes for whatever reason this might not be enough. Some of the products that might prove helpful are homeopathic remedies that can be suited for your cat's needs or sprays or diffusers such as Feliway, which releases a cat-friendly pheromone that should minimize stress related behavior in your cats. However do be warned some of these products work well on some cats, while others are for some reason immune it might take a while before you find a right fit.

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