Recognizing Cat Stress & Providing Relief

signs of stress in cats

Since cats do so much to help reduce our stress levels, it’s important to try and return the favor. After all, they get stressed, too sometimes. So, it’s good to know how to offer your cat stress relief when you see signs of a stressed-out cat. 

Some stressful situations can be good for keeping a cat engaged and stimulated. Allowing your cat to feel new sensations through play and exposure to the outdoors is a positive example of stress. But chronic stress can lead to health issues in your cat. 

Signs of Stress in Cats

Watch for the signs of stress, including chronic stress and anxious cat symptoms: 

  • Changes in appetite 
  • Disrupted sleep patterns 
  • Drop in energy 
  • Withdrawing from social interaction  

If you notice any of these symptoms, check with your veterinarian to rule out potential medical problems.  

If your veterinarian thinks these symptoms are stress-related, it’s important to identify the cause of stress and take steps to eliminate it or reduce it. Doing so can reduce your cat’s stress and manage their anxiety.  

Causes of Cat Stress

Changes in the Home 

Did you recently move to a new home? Do you frequently rearrange the furniture in your current home? Have you had home repairs or remodeling done?  

Cats are sensitive to their environments, and constant changes in the home can make them feel like they have lost control of what’s familiar to them. 

Additions or Subtractions to the Social Circle

If you adopt another pet, make sure you know the proper way to introduce them to your current cat. Introducing cats to other cats and introducing cats to dogs takes a little bit of preparation.  

A new human—say a baby, guests or a new significant other—can stress your cat out as well. Similarly, the loss of a family member—in the case of death or even a child heading off to college—can change your cat’s social circle in a stressful way.  

Seasonal & Temperature Changes

Although your cat lives inside, they are still in tune with the weather, the sun and the outdoors. Changes in the seasons and differences in temperature can affect your cat’s overall stress levels. For example, when we adjust for Daylight Savings Time, a cat’s internal clock gets out of whack, just like ours.  

What you can do: If you live in a colder climate, increase the frequency of play during winter. Since birds have migrated south, there are fewer things for your cat to watch out the window. Also, make sure your cat has blankets to snuggle in for warmth.  

On hot days, make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water and cool hideouts where they can rest. Note that while you may enjoy fans, some cats may not like the noise and the way the breeze feels on their fur. Make sure they have the option to go to a calm area. 

Overstimulation

Boredom can be a big problem for cats, but so can overstimulation. Because cats have sensitive hearing and skin, excessive noise and touching can cause a great deal of stress.  

Constant, loud TV and music, dogs barking and people shouting might be stressful. So is too much touching.  

What you can do: Pay attention to your cat’s body language. Cats are open to being petted and played with but be sure you’re in tune with your cat’s attitude towards touching. If there are any signs of discomfort, give your cat some time to rest.  

Communicate with any children or other people in your home, so they keep this in mind, too. In terms of noise, keep your TV and music at a comfortable volume for your cat.  

Being mindful of the types of stressors and stressful situations your cat may experience can go a long way toward building an extraordinary life together with your cat. 

For more insights on cat behavior from our experts, visit our Pet Expertise page.