While the first thing that probably comes to mind when we think what may stress our cats are dogs, this is actually not the main thing at all.
There are many things thatcould stress your cat and most of them involve changes totheir routine and lifestyle.
As cats are creatures of habit, you will know your cat’s basic routine. Wake you up. Ask for and be served breakfast. Some light grooming by the window before a spot of bird watching. A yawn before they settle down for another nap just as you leave for work.
You come home, they want to be fed, petted, played with then if you’re lucky enough to have a cuddle puss, some lap time in front of the telly. Easy life for both of you but imagine how your cat would feel if this routine was interrupted.
Changes to your cat’s routine can cause your cat huge amounts of stress.
First, let us try and empathise.
Changes have been made that your cat will be aware of. Maybe you have workmen in the house or guests visiting. Your cat may feel unsure about strangers in the house. People walking around in her space, moving her belongings around and possibly trying to touch her. They could be making loud sudden noises or speaking loudly which may also scare her.
Maybe you decided to get another pet like another cat or even a dog. Your cat would be surprised by this unexpected change to their life and may feel threatened by another animal not knowing if the cat/dog was staying, where they would stay and how it would affect them. Imagine being told you have to suddenly share your home with a stranger. You were expected to like each other and live together straight away. It would be a bit of a shock to anyone let alone your cat who has been happy in her security and relationship with you until you made changes.
Maybe you had a new baby. Your cat is now confused by this new small person and new smells in the house and why her toys and things have been moved around. She doesn’t understand why she is yelled at when she tries to look at the new baby-thing and why it makes so much noise
You get some new furniture and your cat doesn’t understand why you have suddenly dumped their favourite chair or changed a favourite view. They become unsettled. Wouldn’t you if someone dumped your favourite chair? Then they get told off for trying out the new one!
At night, strange cats or people come into the garden. Your cat becomes stressed not knowing if the intruders can possibly enter into the safety of the house or if and when they would return.
You have to work overtime or you change your work schedule which means having to change the schedule of your cat’s mealtimes and what time you return from work. This change in schedule can be very confusing for your cat as they may become anxious when you are not home around your usual time (again, cats are creatures of habit)and may leave food untouched due to the changes in feeding times. Not knowing when they are going to see you is always stressful for your cat and causes them to neglect their food.
You go on holiday and have a cat sitter come to visit every day.
Unless your cat was familiarised with the sitter she would be uncomfortable with a stranger in her home and unless the sitter came at regular times each day, your cat would be unaccustomed to the routine and this would be stressful for her having a stranger coming at different times of the day when she wasn’t expecting someone there and then being left alone again afterwards. Your cat may become anxious at this set up so regularity is the key point here.
Some cat owners have yelled at their cats, grabbed them to force play and squirted water at them as a means of punishment. Cats can’t understand the concept of punishment but respond to positive reinforcement behaviour like rewarding them for doing something good. When a cat is doing something they shouldn’t, they should be distracted from that activity but never punished!! Changes in your behaviour to your cat will confuse them and bring up possible feelings of distrust from your cat who will then avoid you.
Then comes a time when your furry friend has been with you for many years and they are getting older. Just like we would, they can become cranky with tiredness and possibly have aches and pains. They feel sick and weak and unable to tell anyone. Their senses aren’t what they used to be and they need gentle handling. It’s around this time when people say they have “a cranky old cat” but the truth is that the cat is only showing signs of crankiness due to old age and trying to let those around her know to start taking it easy with her.
As you can see there are a number of factors that can stress your cat and unless we empathise and try to see things from their furry perspective then we will never truly understand our greatest Friend. There are many ways to keep your cat happy throughout changes in your life and that would always include making changes throughout the home slowly and integrating every change with positive reinforcements and rewards for your cat for allowing the change.
The anti-anxiety calming doughnut bed has been known to help. The shape allows your cat to feel warm in its centre and the outer ring adds comfort and a feeling of security encircling your cat in its soft folds. It has been especially designed to relieve anxiety in cats and even the most timid cat has been known to find comfort and security by its special and unique feature which allows them to sink into the middle and feel safe.
Don’t forget there are also many ways your cat will show you when they are displeased with you or changes to their environment so you must always be aware of what changes will affect your cat and act accordingly to ensure they are always safe, comfortable and above all stress-free.
Typical stressed behaviour is hissing, hiding, soiling outside the litter area or on items of your scent. Aggressive behaviour includes ears and whiskers pulled back, swishing tail, warning growls and more hissing. Be warned!
“Helping Your Cat Stay Healthy”
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