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Many of our pet cats are stressed without us even realising it. Many health problems that cats can develop are made worse by physiological stress. For example, inflammation of the bladder wall (cystitis) is strongly linked to stress hormone in the blood. It is therefore very important that we examine our cat’s social lifestyle rather than reaching for the pills. Cats are sociable to a point but not in the same way as dogs. So how would you know if your cat might be stressed?? Please take my quiz below to find out…
Felines are subtle animals, and it can be tricky to tell if you’ve got a stressed cat in your home. Their behaviour might change slightly, or they might begin to do things that you perceive as ‘being naughty’. In fact, the domestic cat can be great at hiding signs of stress or signs that they’re in pain – it’s in their nature. In the wild, this would help them avoid becoming an easy target for predators.
Perhaps your moggy has started scratching the furniture when they didn’t before, or spending all their time hiding in the airing cupboard? If they were a confident cat previously, the likelihood is that something is making them feel stressed.
Like humans, there are many reasons cats get stressed. Stress is an immediate response to a threat that activates the cat’s ‘flight or fight’ response. It is important you spot the signs of stress in cats and try to reduce that stress as much as possible to ensure your cat stays healthy. If your cat is stressed, they can become emotionally and physically unwell, resulting in problem behaviours and a worrying time for both cat and owner.
From an emotional perspective, cats can feel fearful, anxious, frustrated, or even depressed. They can also have an emotional response to pain (eg being in pain is stressful and tiring). Additionally, being bored can cause stress. It’s a common misconception that cats feel jealousy, spite, or want to get revenge. As far as science can tell us, cats don’t feel these things. It’s important to understand your cat’s underlying emotions as this can help you to understand the cause and how to address it
How to help a stressed cat
Worried about your cat’s symptoms or change in behaviour? While there are a lot of things you can do at home to calm a stressed cat, planning in a visit to the vet should be top of your list. If you’ve found a problem with your cat’s physical health, such as weight loss or issues toileting, it is even more important to get them seen quickly. Your vet may suggest things you can do at home to keep your cat calm, such as altering their environment or changing their routine.
What to do when your cat is having a seizure
The first thing to do when your cat is having a seizure is to stay calm. Do not touch your cat unless they are in harm’s way. Dr. Becky Krull, a veterinarian and owner of Green Bay and Allouez Animal Hospital in Wisconsin, recommends keeping your cat safe by putting pillows around them. Make sure they are not by stairs or any place where they can fall. “Do not pick up the cat or place your face [or] fingers near its mouth,” she adds. “Seizing animals can and will bite because they don’t know what is going on.” If you can, take a video of the seizure to show your veterinarian. If your cat’s seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, immediately take them to the emergency veterinarian.
What is Arthritis in Cats?
Arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis) is a chronic, painful, progressive condition involving the joints of cats. As in people, this is commonly associated with aging, and likely impacts between 70% and 90% of cats over 12 years old. Arthritis usually takes years to develop, with many changes occurring in the joints. The cartilage that normally lines and cushions the joint breaks down, allowing bones to rub together abnormally. Nearby bone may splinter and form sharp, bony projections into the joint. These leads to swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints. Most affected joints include the spine, hip, knees, and elbows—although any joint can develop arthritis. It is a progressive disease, meaning it continues to worsen over time. Because these joint changes cause pain, cats can show decreased mobility and lameness when they have arthritis. While there is no breed or sex predilection for arthritis in cats, it is typically viewed as an aging disease.
Causes of Anxiety in Cats
So, what is the cause of cat anxiety? That is an excellent question that is still under investigation. Like most anxiety, fear, or stress problems are likely a combination of genetics, prenatal environment, experiences during socialization period (2-9 weeks of age), and learning. Burmese and Tonkinese breeds seem to be predisposed1. There are various circumstances that could cause anxiety in cats, and they can be quite similar to what causes anxiety in humans. People get anxious when they go through big life changes. Maybe they had to suddenly move. Maybe there was a divorce or a death in the family. Or maybe another traumatic event occurred. These could all trigger anxiety in humans as well as in cats. A build-up of several stressful life situations could also cause anxiety in your kitty. Your cat is there for you throughout all of your major life changes. So although you might not think that getting a divorce, moving, and then getting a new partner might not have any impact on your feline friend, it actually can do quite the opposite.