Saturday, March 6, 2010

Put the Chill on Cat Stress

How to Spot Stress in Your Cat
Eat, sleep, groom, pounce -- repeat. Sure, their lives may seem carefree, but cats get stressed out just like we do. And though the causes may differ, the effect on your kitty's physical and emotional health can be just as harmful.
How can you tell when the tension level is hitting high? Look for behavior changes like these:

Hiding or acting withdrawn
Appearing lethargic or depressed
Eating much less or much more
Being irritable, aggressive, or destructive
Having litter box problems, including urine spraying
Acting skittish
Pacing, talking/meowing excessively, or otherwise seeming restless
Trying to escape
Grooming excessively

Such changes warrant a trip to the vet to rule out any underlying diseases. If your pet is given a clean bill of health, consider these possible culprits:
Household changes. A new roommate or spouse, frequent guests, a new cat or dog, the death of a family member, a grown child leaving home, or even a vacation can induce anxiety in your cat.

Sibling rivalry. Conflict (especially if it's ongoing) between two or more household cats is a recipe for anxiety.
Stress level of owner. Cats are very tuned-in to their humans, so your stress can become your cat's stress. Family arguments, lack of patience, and even unexpressed tension can increase your kitty's stress level.
Moves. Cats fear change, including a new home. Make the transition less upsetting for your cat with these tips.

5 Stress Soothers
Help calm your kitty by offering the following:

1. Attention. Spend extra time playing, petting, and offering love and reassurance.
2. Privacy. Set her up in a quiet, secluded room with food, water, bedding, and toys.
3. Safe havens. Provide safe hiding places and an elevated cat tree or tower.
4. Comforting calmers. Ask your vet about pheromone products, such as Feliway.
5. Distraction. Turn on soothing music; a television at low-volume; or a fan, which provides white noise.

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