It can be confusing why a cat might be stressed when it seems like all they do is sleep, eat, and sit on your computer, but the fact of the matter is, cats can develop stress just like their human counterparts. This is especially true if their usual routine is disturbed and they don't know what to do. It can be something as small as a litter box not being cleaned frequently enough, or something larger like feeling frightened, sick or traumatized. Even you can stress them out!
If you've been wondering whether or not your cat is stressed, here are ten indicators that they might be.
1. Excessive grooming or scratching
Your cat might carry out their anxiety or stress by grooming or scratching to the point of losing fur and irritating their own skin, much like when humans bite their own nails. If this is the case, check with your vet for some solutions to help your cat calm down.
2. House soiling
Your cat may show that they are anxious by using the bathroom outside of their bathroom. This could be a sign of acting out, or it could be caused by bowel issues. You should take them to the vet either way to find out the best way to handle the situation.
3. Extreme vigilance
If your cat is anxious, they may spend a lot of time hiding under the bed or furniture, or protecting their surroundings. This can develop into aggression, and should be addressed with a vet visit as soon as possible.
4. Becoming extra vocal
Your cat might show their anxiety by yowling and meowing a great deal. There are definitely some cats who are natural "talkers," but if your cat is not normally so vocal and begins to meow or yowl regularly, this is an indicator that they are upset and have potentially developed anxiety.
5. Lack of appetite
When humans feel upset or anxious, we sometimes lose our appetite. The same is true with cats. If your cat stops eating or begins eating very little, this could be a sign of anxiety.
If you cat begins to sleep more than usual or loses a great deal of energy, this could indicate anxiety and should be addressed quickly with a visit to the vet.
If your cat becomes aggressive with other animals or people, this could be a way that anxiety is manifesting itself. Aggression is another reason to get your cat to the vet quickly.
8. Increased dependency
Sometimes the opposite can happen, and your cat might become clingy, or upset whenever you leave. This behavior can also coincide with being vocal if you aren't in sight. This separation anxiety can be linked to general anxiety.
9. Tummy issues
If your cat develops diarrhea, constipation or other issues when they use the bathroom, this could be an internalized distress signal of anxiety. Since it could also be an indicator of other health issues, it's best to get your cat to the vet for a visit.
10. General changes in behavior
You know your cat. If they used to be snuggly and are now standoffish, used to be calm and now jump at any noise, used to be be rambunctious and now have no energy, these could all be indicators that your cat is suffering from anxiety.
If you notice any of these signs of anxiety, be sure to go first to your veterinarian to make sure it isn't a physical ailment causing the anxiety. If it isn't, your vet will know some good solutions to help with mental anxiety. Some recommend a cat tree to allow your cat to climb and play and have their own space. Food puzzle toys are also a good activity for your cat to use their hunting and eating skills. Rotating toys help keep your cat active and anxiety low, so if you can, change up the play time!
If your cat's anxiety is extreme, it may be time to talk to your veterinarian about some natural supplements or other medication that can help you cat feel less stressed. Otherwise, be patient, kind and offer your cat all the soothing kitty options, like snuggles and maybe some calming new toys and treats that will help ease that anxiety. While you're at it, do the same for yourself too!