What kind of things can cause stress in a cat and why?
Before we graciously took cats into our homes, they lived very different lives.  They roamed free and had lots of space available to them.  They controlled their resources; where they went to eliminate. Eat and rest.  This allowed to avoid interactions with other cats, dogs, and people.  If they chose to do so.  It was also easier to escape threatening and stressful situations.
Now our cats live in housed and apartments that may limit their ability to roam.  They have little or no control over their resources.  Their access to the outdoors is restricted or not allowed.  They now share their living space with other cats, dogs, children, etc.  While these changes have protected cats and improved their health and welfare, they also can cause stress and anxiety.
What are the behavioral signs of stress and anxiety?
  • When they are stressed, cats may mark their territory with urine (urine spraying)
  • Stressed cats may also mark with their claws
  • Cats that are stressed may also fight with other cats in their environment
  • Lack of grooming or over-grooming (excessive licking the body) may be a symptom of stress
  • Persistent hiding or vomiting
What are the medical signs of stress?
  • Cystitis
  • Alopecia
  • Anorexia
  • Obesity or poor body condition and thinness
What can be done to help diminish stress and anxiety in a dog?
  • Create an environment that utilizes the space in a feline friendly way
    • Have one food bowl per cat in different locations
    • Create places for cats to arrange themselves vertically with climbing towers and shelves
    • Have litter boxes throughout the environment and at least one per cat
  • Create and environment that stimulates that cat mentally
    • Offer a variety of toys that are rotated every few days
    • Create “treasure hunts” or foraging that allows the cat to utilize their inner predator
  • Create save zones so cats that do not get along can avoid each other if they wish
  • Make sure you spend time interacting with your cat through play, petting and just being nearby
  • Use pheromones to decrease anxiety, diminish tension and the need to mark with urine and claws. See Feliway.com
  • Use pheromone products to help re-direct the cat
  • Clean all areas where your cat has peed
    • Use a recommended product that removes the urine stain and the odor
    • DO NOT use bleach, it may cause the cat to return to the spot.
    • Place one of your old shirts in his bed to help comfort him 
  • Follow litter box “golden rules”
    • One litter per cat, plus one
    • Place in different areas of the home
    • Keep clean by scooping at least once daily
    • Change litter box about every 3 weeks
    • Don’t place food or water bowls near the box
  • Use pheromone products to help re-direct the cat
  • Follow scratching post “golden rules”
    • Sturdy and should not wobble when being used
    • Tall enough, should allow your cat to fully stretch when scratching
    • Place scratching posts near areas of unwanted scratching or place it near where your cat sleeps
    • One scratching post per cat
  • Use pheromone products to help re-direct the cat
  • Understand why your cat may be excessively hiding
    • Recent changes at home? (new furniture, redecorating, moving home)
    • Visitors, new family member, new pet at home?
    • Competition or tension with another cat
  • Cats need to hide
    • Provide multiple cat hiding spots (cardboard boxes or baskets)
    • Easily accessible areas
    • Cats like their space, they may just need some down time
  • Use pheromone products to help re-direct the cat
  • Follow living together “golden rules”
    • ReEach cat must have his own food bowl, water bowl, litter box, scratching post
    • Your cats’ “dining rooms” and “bathrooms” need to be separated.  Make sure each of your cats has his own space
  • Conflict management
    • No punishment!
    • It would only reinforce conflict
If these do not help your pet, please let us know so we can give further advice.
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