Have you ever considered the possibility that your kitten is stressed out? No matter how hard we try to create a nice and calm home environment for our house cats, at some point most of them are exposed to stress in one form or another.
As with people, how well our feline friends handle stress varies and depends on their inherent dispositions along with the nature of the stressor.
Why is it important to pay attention to this topic? As for people, stress in cats can cause negative health consequences. Additionally, stressed kittens often display undesirable behaviors.
Causes of stress in cats
There are many potential triggers for feline stress . The following stressors are the most important:
- Environmental changes; such as the introduction of a new member into the home or a change in the physical environment.
- Change in daily routine.
- Sterile environment; lack of stimulation and few opportunities to express natural feline behaviors.
- Poor relationship; with the owner, arising from inappropriate socialization, or punishment.
- Conflicts between cats; that can arise from the introduction of a new cat in the home, or with external cats.
Stress in cats and health consequences
A stressed kitten is more prone to health problems, stress is commonly associated with the suppression of the normal function of the immune system.
Examples of feline stress-induced health problems:
- Feline herpesvirus.
- Feline interstitial cystitis (FIC) attacks.
- Skin diseases.
- Gastrointestinal disorders.
- Vomiting and diarrhea
Behavioral consequences of stress in cats
The exposure to stress can lead to a wide range of behavioral changes that can adversely affect the quality of life of the cat.
The most common behavioral abnormalities that result from stress include:
- Loss of appetite
- Excess or lack of cleanliness.
- Low spirits.
- Play less.
- Explore less.
- Less interactions with humans and other cats.
- Excessive meowing
- Hiding (hides).
- Mark with urine.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Compulsive behavior (such as eating non-food items).
Stress reduction strategies in cats
Ideally, if the stressful stimulus can be identified, it should be removed from the cat’s environment. When this is not possible, as is often the case, gradual exposure to the stressor in a pleasant context can decrease the stress response .
Environmental enrichment to reduce cat stress
It is very important to provide your cat with everything he needs. As essential, a wide space to live and resources such as food, water, places to rest, toys , litter boxes, and that each cat has its own things.
The additional stress reduction strategies include the following:
- Installation of a cat tree, to allow the cat to explore the vertical space.
- Provide fun and comfortable places for the kitten.
- Change toys frequently to stimulate curiosity and interest
- Provide interactive toys and spend time with your cat.
- Hiding treats as a game, so that the cat can find them at home.
Chemical stress relief aid
Some products such as medications can be used to help calm your kitten and reduce stress. It is important to speak with your vet if you are considering these options.
You can also try catnip, or Feliway’s pheromone diffuser , which help calm cats.
Whatever you do to help your cat feel good, I encourage you to have a conversation with your vet if you suspect your kitty is suffering from stress. It is important to rule out an underlying medical condition because symptoms and behaviors induced by illness and stress can be confused .
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