Not all cats are easy-going, but there are ways in which you can bring a stressed cat out of their shell. But, it’s important to note that there is a difference between a stressed cat and a scaredy cat. A scaredy cat is a cat that is naturally skittish by nature. Or, perhaps because they weren’t properly socialized as a kitten—which of course is not their fault by any means.
For a stressed cat, like a stressed person, there is something which is bringing them stress.
When a cat is stressed, the sooner you can alleviate their stress, the better. And once you do, the two of you can have a long and happy life together. Giving your cat a better quality of life is something they deserve if they are stressed.
Cats can become stressed for a number of reasons. Below you’ll find a few of the most common reasons.
Changes to their environment
Think moving or adding a new member to the family, whether that’s a four-legged or the human kind. A new face that they’re unfamiliar with can take time to adjust to. If you are considering adding a new four-legged friend to your family, try considering your current cat’s disposition out of respect to them. I know this isn’t always possible, but trying to find a match is the best thing you can do to ensure that they become friends sooner rather than later. Cats are not fans of change, and the introduction of an unfamiliar pet or person in their home can easily cause them to feel threatened. Which, of course, can lead to stress. Take things slow, practice patience, and remember time is the best medicine.
There is something wrong with their health
When a cat is in pain, they will often not jump up in your face and beg for attention. What they are more likely to do is meow excessively, avoid the litter box, or hide. Of course, when it comes to hiding, some cats simply like to hide from noise when they are sleeping. So, this is not the same as when they sneak off for a daily snooze.
Changes to their diet
It’s a well-known fact that cats are not fans of change. When they incur it, they can show their disapproval without reservation. Let’s say you have a cat which is overweight and you adjust their food intake or change their food to get them on a kibble that’s better suited for their needs. This can easily stress out your cat who was used to getting what they wanted when they wanted it. But, remember, don’t give in when they pretend like they’re starving. Cats are opportunistic by nature—just as dogs are. If opportunity arises, they’ll be quick to turn it into a habit of getting what they want. Which is usually more food or the good stuff!
A New Home
The shelter life is a lonely one for cats. If a cat is in a shelter, this can easily trigger stress. Once adopted, it can take some time for a cat to adjust. Being shuffled around from home to shelter to home isn’t easy on a cat. Cats are incredibly sensitive beings. And I honestly think that this is the reason that they respond so well to our emotions when we’re overwhelmed by them.
Cats can display their stress in a number of ways, too. A cat which is stressed can display behavioral as well as physical symptoms. These are coping mechanisms which occur because your cat is stressed and managing that stress is taking its toll on them. A cat which is stressed can possibly vomit, have diarrhea, stop eating, become neurotic/extremely attached, groom excessively as a way to calm themselves, or even withdraw from others.
Ways to Help Your Cat Ease Their Stress
When you want to help your cat to ease their stress, the very first crucial step is to ensure that their environment is not what is triggering their stress. This doesn’t mean that our homes need to be a silent sanctuary by any means, but this just means that we need to be sure that we offer our cats a place in our home that is theirs and that can help them to relax.
If your cat is attached to you and you’re worried that they’re stressed when you’re away, leave an article of clothing near a spot where they like to sleep. A blanket that’s heavily coated in your scent works, too.
If you have multiple cats in your home, try spending one-on-one time with your cats each day. And this is especially true if you have a stressed cat in a household of multiple cats.
Are cat fights in your home what’s causing your cat to be stressed?
This is a common problem with many cat owners today. Some cats are more territorial than others, and they can display their aggression by way of attacking other cats in your home. This can result in spraying inside the home, too.
If you’re dealing with a stressed cat, this is often because your cat is feeling defensive and insecure. But the good thing is, you can help to lift their spirits and build their confidence. Talk to your cat each day, dedicate special time just for them, and assure them that they are special. I have one cat which becomes stressed easily, so I try to make life as stress-free as possible for him. And at times it’s difficult because my tuxedo cat is often a source of stress for him as he likes to rough play often and my little guy doesn’t.
Often times, I’ll sit one-on-one with Tom and I use a quiet voice and move slowly around him to not freak him out. He has taken time to come out of his shell, but he now comes up to all my kids because I’ve taught them how to approach him and it makes my heart so happy to see that he feels no stress around them, too.