Cats are animals that show a high susceptibility to any change that occurs in their environment and react by manifesting stress.
It is important to detect its symptoms to prevent it from worsening and causing behavioral and even health problems in our kitten. We explain how to do it.
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Symptoms of stress in cats
In general, any change in the cat’s behavior can be a sign of stress that, although it is usually related to changes in the environment, can also appear due to illness, boredom or frustration .
Of course, before talking about stress, we must take the cat to the vet to rule out that the symptoms are due to a physical pathology.
All of these behaviors can be related to feline stress:
- Excessive , almost compulsive grooming , and excessive scratching , to the point of injuring oneself and losing hair. This behavior shows anxiety.
- Inadequate elimination of both urine and feces , that is, the cat relieves itself anywhere outside the litter box. It should not be confused with the marking of whole cats.
- Hair loss in greater quantity than a normal shedding, and bald spots may be seen.
- Loss of appetite , the cat stops eating or eats less, but the opposite can also happen, compulsively eating and even vomiting later. Other cats ingest inappropriate substances, which is known as pica.
- Fear and phobias , it is normal for the cat to hide.
- Aggression , a cat that fights with others or even attacks us is likely to do so because it is frustrated.
- In addition, the cat can become ill or worse if it already suffers from a chronic condition. – A immobile cat, with dilated pupils, panting, hypersalivation, swallowing repeatedly and licking his lips is highly stressed.
How to control stress in kittens
Due to the sensitivity that, as we have mentioned, most cats show to changes in their environment, it is very important that, if we are going to introduce any element that disturbs their routine, we do so following some guidelines:
- First of all, we must not disturb the cat’s environment if it is not necessary. For example, if our cat uses its litter box perfectly, there is no need to change the substrate, since we could find that the cat does not like it and, as a consequence, stops using the litter box.
- When changes are unavoidable, such as in the case of a move, the arrival of new members to the family or, in general, any visit, we must anticipate and prepare the cat .
- For sale we can find different products that help to relax the feline. They contain soothing pheromones , odorless to us but detectable to them, which give you soothing sensations. They are found as plug-in-room diffusers, sprayers or as components of feed or treats.
- When the change takes place suddenly without, therefore, we can prepare it in advance, the use of pheromones can also help us, in addition to proper handling of the cat, as we will see.
The character of the cat in the face of stress
We, as caregivers, must provide our cat with a cozy and calm environment that minimizes the risk of stress. For this, it is essential that we be aware of the character of the feline that we have at home.
Although many are loving and very dependent on us, contrary to what it might seem, others are fearful and elusive. They can be as well as a trait of their character or because of previous negative experiences they have lived.
Socialization also carries a lot of weight. That cats spend their first 8-10 weeks of life together with their mother and siblings usually guarantees proper socialization. Kittens abandoned at birth or shortly thereafter are not uncommon to have problems with inappropriate elimination, do not control their strength when playing or, as we have said, show a more reserved character .
How to handle a stressed cat
Regardless of the character but, above all, for those more fearful cats, it is essential that we respect their safety distance and, at the same time, be accessible to encourage them to be the ones who approach. We must never force them into contact, as we would achieve the opposite effect.
We will always address the cat using a soft voice, with slow movements and without stroking it if it does not request it. The cat’s trust is gained when it feels that we respect and care for it. Patience is key in the most fearful cats.
Offering them prizes is also good for bonding. Once it is allowed to touch, we must begin to do it on the head and back, avoiding contact with the belly or feet, since they are usually delicate areas.
Environmental enrichment to dissipate stress
Not only the scariest cats can present stress. Any cat, regardless of its character, can suffer stress from frustration or boredom . And it is that many today live in flats, alone for hours and without too much stimulation. It is not strange that they present symptoms of stress like the ones we have described.
To alleviate this, we can create a stimulating environment with scratchers, toys (catnip toys are especially attractive to them) and various heights, since cats also live vertically and love to control their territory from above.
Two cats better than one?
If we adopt two cats together, who have lived together and we know that they get along, we will avoid boredom since, even if we are absent, they will have each other to accompany each other and release energy.
But, if our cat is stressed, we must solve its problem before introducing a companion , be it a cat or any other animal. And we must always respect the presentation guidelines so that the animals get to know each other gradually.
The behavioral specialists
Although our management and the environment are adequate, we can find cats that remain stressed. When we cannot resolve the conflict, we must know that there are professionals specialized in feline behavior that we can turn to.
There are veterinary specialists in behavior and, also, ethologists who can study our specific case and provide us with solutions.
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