Stress Triggers For Cats: 4 Common Situations To Avoid

Are you stressed out right about now?  With the holidays on full throttle, it’s challenging to really find some rest and relaxation…despite the fact that is what this time of year should encourage. Just as with you and I, stress can have a negative physical and mental impact on cats. It can aggravate their relationships with other pets and humans in the home. While they don’t get upset over the same things we do, there are some common stress triggers for cats.

According to, be on the lookout for these so you can better understand your cat’s behavior.

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Competition for resources

If your cat has to compete with other cats for food, water, a scratching post and/or the litter box, he’ll probably get stressed out. Minimize the relocation of these so cats can locate them easily.

Inadequate territory

When a cat does not feel like the master of his domain, he can get a bit freaked out. Lacking a scratching post for territorial rights or competing with too many other cats in the home can stress him out. When possible, set up a “time out” space where your cat(s) can go to escape the holiday frenzy for a while.

Household changes

This is often a problem during the holidays. Do you have a new pet? A new baby?  Visitors?  A new roommate? Doing some remodeling?  When change occurs in the household, cats can react adversely. When you are stressed, your cat will sense this and exhibit similar emotions. How you are feeling emotionally can wear off on your cat.


Whether taking your cat to the vet or on a road trip, when he gets in the car and is uncertain as to where he is going – especially if handed off to strangers – the end result is stress. (I mean, imagine how you would feel if someone did that to you?)

Signs of Cat Stress

What types of behaviors do cats exhibit when stressed? (Because it’s not like they are going to sit you down for a venting session!)

Some common signs of stress in cats include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Hiding
  • Excessive clinginess
  • Inappropriate scratching
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Over-grooming…sometimes to the point of creating bald spots on their bodies.

Treatment is available for stress in cats.  First, rule out any medical reason for the stress. Beyond that, it’s fairly simple.

  • Avoid too much commotion and noise in the house
  • Make sure your cat enjoys enough play and cuddle time with you. I’ve found when I set aside some quiet time with Marty, he calms down quite a bit. Reading time (when he sits with me while I read. Doesn’t seem to matter what I read as long as I’m quiet and still for a period of time.)
  • Have enough food and water bowls available if you have multiple cats in the home.
  • Set up pheromone diffusers throughout your living space. These pheromones help relax your cat and reduce his stress.

Avoiding these stress triggers for cats will help keep you and your pet calm through the craziness of the holidays.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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.