Stress can do a lot with us. But also with our animals. They too can experience stress, like when a family member passes or there is a new one on the way, or during moving out. But what else, and what are the signs?
Cats are territorial animals, and just like humans, not every cat is the same. Some cats are social and are in need of company, while others seem to be ok with being the only cat. Every cat will experience a situation differently. Some cats may become really stressed out when there’s a new family member in the house, while some cats might not even fuss about it.
Signs of a stressed cat are: wide pupils and big eyes, licking their lips (not in combination with eating), hissing and growling, aggression, doing it outside the litter box, hiding a lot, not wanting to play, less grooming and no appetite. But also becoming more alert, skittish, pacing or in extreme cases pulling out their hair.
But stress is not always bad! It helps to make your cat make choices when he needs to make a very quick choice: fight or flight? This is the so called fight or flight mechanism.
What causes stress?
Er hoeft niet veel voor te gebeuren om sommige katten te laten stressen. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan hele harde muziek, gasten over de vloer. Maar ook verhuizingen, een nieuw soort kattengrit of juist een hele vieze bak. Nieuwe meubelen, nieuwe en onbekende geuren. Overlijden van een gezinslid of juist een nieuw gezinslid er bij.
How do you create less stress?
It is important to prepare your cat for big changes.
Cats are sensitive to stress, so even if you’re just shoving furniture around, that could stress out your cat. In that case, don’t change too much around the house! If it needs to happen anyway, do it gradually.
Keep litter boxes as clean as possible and make sure your cat has places he can hide at and feel safe when he wants to. Do you have a hallway that has a dead end? Build up, or put a scratching post there. That way cats can easily avoid each other when there is tension.
Also plan in daily play sessions. This will make your cat more confident and make him feel better in his skin and in the long run he will feel less stressed.
Another thing that can help, is to make your house cat friendly! Think about big scratching posts! But also more litter boxes, scent soakers, boxes, toys, and more!