Signs Of Stress In Cats

stress in cats

Life is stressful. While we recognize the signs of stress in our own lives – irritability, depression, mood swings, insomnia and more – we may not always understand or even recognize the signs of stress in cats.

And I know what you’re thinking:  Do cats get stressed? After all, they seem to have the easy life. Most anything can stress a cat out, too, whether she is subject to  certain events or situations or just ongoing conditions. Often cats pick up on our stress, which in turn stresses them as well.

Signs of Stress

How do you spot the signs of stress in cats? It’s all about the body language. To a cat, stress is a threat and she will typically respond to stress much like she would to a threat. She may become highly attentive and focused on that which is bothering her. Dilated pupils and a wagging tail may come into play. She may even arch her back. Do not be alarmed if this is a reaction to a particular situation. However, if your cat repeats this behavior with no apparent reason, she could be alerting you to a heightened level of stress that has been building up over time.

Less aggressive cats may not exhibit stress through body language, however, but they may exhibit certain physical symptoms as a result of stress, including excessive shedding and grooming, changes in appetite, hiding, disrupted sleep patterns, increased vocalization, and general restlessness.

Watch For Physical Changes

Stress can lead to illness in people when endured over a period of time, and it can wreak similar havoc on a cat. If you notice any unusual changes physically or in behavior, it is time to consult your veterinarian.  Not only can stress create illness in a cat, it can also be a sign of illness. For example, if your cat is shedding profusely, it could be a sign of a skin condition.

If you have ruled out any physical issues, then try to assess what the stress triggers are for your cat. Possible causes of stress for a cat include a change in her daily routine; a new family member or pet in the household; a fear of certain items in your household; illness of a family member: or even a fear of a certain location in your home.

Once you identify and eliminate the source of your cat’s stress, be sure to play, pet, soothe and love on your cat.  Reinforce positive feelings.  Using an interactive cat toy is a great way to reduce stress as it will build your cat’s confidence while simultaneously reducing her stress. (And for the record, regular playtime with your cat will actually help to reduce any stress you might have!)

Thanks to and for this helpful information

Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.