5 Signs Your Cat is Stressed Out March 15 2018

Most cat owners would agree that cats are family. We'd do anything for them: anything. But sometimes, we can be blind to our own shortcomings as responsible pet parents. Even with the best of intentions, we can make seemingly small changes that might be catastrophic to our cats.

Okay, catastrophic might be a bit of an overstatement. Or not. You know how cats are: melodramatic

That's not to say cats are delicate, fragile flowers. But they do tend to be sensitive to certain environmental stressors their humans might not even realize exist.

Here are five ways to tell if your cat is stressed. 


1. Hiding.

Most cats have an innate sense of "stranger danger" and dive under the bed for cover when friends come to visit. But if your cat begins hiding constantly, even during the times they would usually socialize with you (like during feeding time), there may be something in their environment that is causing them stress. 

2. Litter box changes. 

When a normally tidy cat begins eliminating outside their litter box, it is usually a sign of stress. It could be something as simple as your cat hates the new litter you're trying. Or maybe you got a new cat or dog, which is an obvious stressor. Or maybe you're just not keeping the litter box as tidy as your cat would like. Take any changes you have made lately into consideration.  

Eliminating outside their litter box can also be a symptom of an underlying health issue and a check up with the vet may be in order.


 3. Excessive grooming.

Cats are fastidious groomers, spending hours grooming and tidying their fur. A stressed cat might start grooming more because it calms them down. Licking releases endorphins, which can help an anxious kitty self-soothe. But nervous or stressed cats can start to groom excessively, called feline psychogenic alopecia, to the point where they lick themselves bald, start pulling out patches of fur and scratch themselves raw. 



4. A decrease in appetite. 

As much as we joke about cats being always being hungry, many cat owners actually have to struggle with trying to feed a picky cat. There's an endless list of wet food my cat will stick his nose up at. The list of foods he will eat is incredibly short. So if he suddenly stopped eating the food he loves, I'd be on high alert. A decrease in appetite can be a sign that your cat is majorly stressed - or even depressed. Decreased appetite can also be a warning sign of illness, again, a checkup may be necessary. 


5. Aggression.

If your cat begins acting more aggressive towards you other animals in the household by exhibiting uncharacteristic biting, scratching or hissing behaviors, there may be something in the house causing them distress. It's not that your cat suddenly hates you, but it's one of the few ways she has of telling you she's upset. 

The key to easing your cat's anxiety and fear is pinpointing the cause of their stress, which can be obvious to the cats, but not us people. 

Causes of Stress in Cats:

  • Environmental changes, such as introduction of a new household member or change in the physical environment (construction, etc)
  • A sudden change in daily routine
  • A "boring" household environment that doesn't allow for normal cat behaviors like hunting, scratching and territory "marking"
  • Conflicts between cats or other animals caused by introduction of a new pet into the household
  • The loss of another companion pet or owner. 

 Cats are fairly skilled at keeping their discomfort hidden, so it can be difficult to tell if your cat is suffering from chronic stress. But your cat is a member of your household, and you probably know them better than you think. So if something seems out of the ordinary, don't be afraid to ask your vet.