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Stress & Cats

Cat HidingJust like us, our feline friends can get upset by changes and feel stressed.  Signs of stress in cats are varied, the most common being inappropriate urination or defecation, over-grooming, hiding and aggression.  Over-grooming often results in bald areas, usually on the belly or back.  Unfortunately this is also a symptom of itchiness, such as a flea allergy so this needs to be investigated when taking your cat to the vet.

Many things can cause stress to a cat's normally very laid back existence of 23 hours sleep interspersed with a couple of good meals!  Changes in your cat's territory can be very upsetting.  All you need is a new cat in the neighbourhood to cause all sorts of problems.  Cats use many forms of body language to communicate and to avoid a fight; their ears will go back with their tail swishing.  Unfortunately, this does not always deter the aggressor and fights can occur, usually resulting in a visit to the vet due to a cat bite abscess.

Another common stress for cats is moving to a new house.  All the familiar smells have gone and your cat must introduce itself into the neighbourhood, just like a child going to a new school.Introducing a new cat into an established feline household can also be upsetting for both

parties.  The cats should be kept separated for at least 2 weeks but allowed to wander around the house in the other cat's absence so that they get used to the smell and presence of each other.

It is always important to consult your vet if your cat develops any change in its behaviour as the change may be due to a medical problem rather than a psychological one.

In all cases mentioned, there is an easy solution, which will often help reduce or stop any stress response in cats.  It is a plug-in treatment, like an air freshener, called Feliway and can be bought from your vets.  It should be plugged in and switched on permanently.  It should be placed somewhere in the house where it can disperse, but not in a draught as it as this will prevent it from building up to significant levels in the air to have an effect.  The Feliway produces a pheromone, which relaxes cats and reassures them.  It is quite safe to use and is not detectable by humans.  Feliway does not treat all cases of feline stress but it does help in a large number of cases.

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