We all have experienced stress over life events like marriage, divorce, job change, move to a new house, but did you know your cat gets stressed too? Cats are creatures of habit, and they can easily get stressed out not only by major changes, but by things we might overlook.
In the book Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat–Not a Sour Puss Pam Johnson-Bennett lists some small changes that might cause big stress for cats:
- Continuing appearance of another cat outside
- New furniture or rearrangement of existing furniture
- Change in work schedule (this really stresses out my cat Marty!)
- New carpet
- Dirty litter box
- Change of food
- Change of litter type
- Having food and litter box too close together
- Ongoing loud noises
So how to deal with a stressed cat? It’s important to pinpoint what’s causing the anxiety and eliminate it if possible. If you know a major change is coming, prepare your cat as well as possible in advance. The bigger the change, the more time you should allow for your cat to adjust.
For example, if you’re changing your cat’s food or litter, introduce the new item gradually. Add a small amount to the existing food or litter, increasing the amount of new element every few days while decreasing the old until the change is complete.
If the change is bigger, like a move to a new house, begin packing in stages. It’s important to stay as calm as you can, cats are very attuned to our moods and will pick up any stress we’re exhibiting in their presence. When you arrive at the new house, put your cat in one room and give him a chance to explore and get familiar with his new surroundings.
Try to provide as much play time as possible with your cat. Play gives them exercise and boosts their confidence to help them adjust. It’s also important to have a “safe place” set up for your cat when he’s feeling overly stressed. This will help him relax and feel more comfortable and accepting of the change.
Unexpected situations pop up from time to time, but for those changes you know are coming, knowing how to deal with a stressed cat will help your feline make the adjustment quicker and easier.