Stressed Out Cats: Behaviors That Freak Out Cats

stressed out cats

Believe it or not, our behaviors and actions can lead to stressed out cats. I have witnessed it first-hand in my own pets. When I am anxious and nervous, my dog mirrors those feelings.  When I am relaxed and calm, I can sense the same in him.

According to, many people remain unaware of how their actions impact their pets, whether for better or for worse.  And I don’t think we intentionally do it; I just don’t think we realize the significance of the impact. However, your actions that create a negative effect on your cat can change her behavior and even her relationship with you.

There are several ways we unintentionally create stressed out cats. Here are the most common ones:

Using Punishment To Change Cat’s Behavior

stressed out cats
Punishing cats does not alter their behavior

Punishment is not the way to change your cat’s behavior – ever. It may temporarily stop the problem, but it won’t get to the underlying issue.

Cats do not understand behavior vs. consequences. Punishing her for engaging in undesirable behaviors can confuse her, leading to anxiety and even fear. She may even begin to associate parts of the situation – including people or other pets – with the cause of punishment.

Using Carrier Only For Vet Visits

stressed out cats
Using carrier only for vet visits will cause cats to avoid it

By doing this, you set the stage for your cat to associate the carrier with thing she does not like. As a result, she might hide when she sees the crate or put up a struggle when you want her to get inside. Instead, you can teach your cat to willingly go in the crate and view it as a fun place to hang out when she wants…not just a place in which she is confined as she heads off to the vet or the groomer.

Play That Scares Your Cat

stressed out cats
Play that consistently scares cats may lead to them avoiding certain areas

Your playfulness with your cat may seem fun and hilarious to you, but to your cat, it can be a whole other ball game. If you enjoy pranking your cat – as some online videos will depict – and think it is funny…it may be to you, but to your cat, it can be scary.

When repeatedly exposed to such behaviors, your cat can become neurotic, perhaps even fearful of venturing into places she once enjoyed and found safe. Frightening a cat in the areas in which she eats and drinks, may lead to avoidance from those spaces and put herself at risk for serious health issues.  Who’s laughing now?

Lack Of Mental Stimulation

stressed out cats
Lack of mental stimulation may lead to excessive sleep in cats

Cats need stimulation and are natural-born hunters. Without the opportunity to engage those natural instincts in an acceptable manner, she may just sleep away the day and not get the exercise that is so vital to her health.  So, why not make your cat get to work and have her “hunt” for her food.

Place kibbles in parts of the home she frequents so she can discover these treats. Not giving your cat the chance to play, exercise and have fun, she may transfer that energy into scratching your furniture or tearing up your drapes. Where’s the fun in that?

Be advised that if you notice any unusual behavioral problems or changes to consult with your veterinarian. There could be an underlying medical condition associated with such behaviors, either worsening them or causing them.





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.