How Do You Help a Stressed-Out Cat?
The first step is to figure out the stress trigger. You can provide a loving, warm, wonderful home for your cat but if he feels as if he’s living in hostile territory because your other cat is relentlessly ambushing him, then that environment, not matter how cushy, is stressful. Look at your cat’s environment through his eyes. Imagine how it would be if you felt as if your home wasn’t safe for you. Imagine having to worry about being attacked or ambushed every time you walked into the kitchen or bathroom. How stressed would you be if someone bullied you during meals and frightened you so you had to sneak into the kitchen to eat when no one was around? Or what if you were forced to use a bathroom day after day that was filthy? Look at your world from your cat’s point of view and you’ll be surprised how many stress triggers you’ll see – many of which can be modified and eliminated. No, you won’t be able to take away all of your cat’s stress but if you start looking at life through the eyes of your cat, you’ll discover many little (and some big) adjustments you can make that will create a huge difference.
Here are some suggestions to help you get started on helping your cat:
- Help your cat get comfortable with the cat carrier so car travel won’t be so frightening
- Take your cat to a veterinary clinic that has worked to create a cat-friendly practice
- Address multicat tension issues now, before they get any worse
- Make sure there are adequate resources for each cat to reduce competition and guarding
- Maintain good litter box hygiene
- Create environmental enrichment in the home
- Socialize your cat
- Ease your cat through life transitions rather than make abrupt changes
- Maintain your cat’s veterinary care
- Engage your cat in daily interactive play sessions
- Do gradual, positive new pet introductions
- Provide good quality nutrition
Need More Information on Cat Stress?
The above information is just to give you an idea of what your cat needs. Each situation is unique. What’s most important is to look at your cat’s circumstances and figure out what might be causing the ongoing stress. In some cases all that will be needed are some minor tweaks to help him feel more secure. In other cases, the ongoing stress response is causing harm to him emotionally and physically. For more information on how to create a healthy, happy environment for your cat or if you’re dealing with behavior problems, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett. If you need professional help, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.
If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.