Anxiety is considered a human condition but cats can experience anxiety as well. Stress is quite common amongst our feline friends. Just like humans under pressure, a stressed-out cat can become ill. Stress in a cat can have adverse health effects like cystitis and hair loss.
A veterinarian appointment should be scheduled whenever you notice a change in your cat’s behavior. The vet visit can make sure your cat is not dealing with a health condition that is affecting their behavior. There are also things you as a cat owner can do to reduce your cat’s anxiety and make your cat happier and healthier.
Provide the Best Facilities for Your Cat
A cat needs a litter box but just having one available will cause them stress if the box is not kept clean. Certain types of little can hurt your cats’ sensitive paws. The box is too small or in a high-traffic area of the house where the cat gets no privacy or is someplace not easily accessible for the cat. To reduce stress cats needs a litter box that is kept clean. A dirty, smelly cat box or the wrong litter can cause a cat to hold urination off or cause them to pee where they shouldn’t. A litter box should be large enough that the cat can fit comfortably in the box without their whiskers coming into contact with a cover if you use a covered box. A litter box that is too small can also cause stress. You also may find a cat that finds the crystal litter to hurt their paws even though it saves you litter box changes. If you have more than one cat in your household, there should be one box per cat and one additional box. Placing the cat boxes in areas of the house where people are always in is no different than having the human bathroom there, a cat is a dignified creature and wants some privacy so placing a cat box in a quiet area will give your cat a sense of peace of mind.
Feed the Cat Quality Cat Food
Consult with your vet to ensure your cat gets the complete and balanced nutrition they need. Cats prefer to graze. Cats are happiest when they can are fed a small amount of food several times a day. If you have several cats, this can be a challenge. Cats in a household where there are several cats need to be fed measured portions to prevent obesity that results from letting cats freely eat. Having a second cat feeding area is often a good idea if you have one cat that plays “keep away” with the cat food, acts aggressively about sharing the bowl or shows food related bad behavior prevents the other cats from eating. Cats can become severely stressed when they have to be on guard or defensive when eating. Having to be anxious and look out for attacks when eating can cause a cat to become anxious and avoid eating or not eat enough food. Setting up space where the bullied cat can dine without fear and eat without a swat or hiss will provide your cat comfort and makes sure they can get their necessary nutrition.
Many cats don’t drink enough water and are often always at risk of clinical dehydration. Dehydration can lead to health issues and stress for cats. You can encourage cats to increase their fluid intake by adding some canned food to their diet. Canned food provides more hydration than dry kibble. Some cats even prefer drinking from flowing water and using a cat water fountain or a dripping faucet can encourage a cat to drink more water. If you know your cat likes the sink faucet, occasionally leaving it trickling will entice them to intake more fluids. Providing more than one water bowl or fountain is best when you have more than one cat.
Most cats want quality time and attention from their owners. Each day you should make time to give your cat time with you. It can be cuddling, belly rubs, grooming or quiet talking and petting, this not only reduces human anxiety levels, but it also reduces feline anxiety levels as well. This reassures them and comforts them if there’s a stressor. Every cat you own needs a bit of time to feel loved and special every day. Giving your kitty your undivided attention and the type of affection that makes them purr, knead and relax is the mental health break that benefits you both.
Playtime is Important too!
Cats are strange, wonderful creatures. They can be introverted extroverts or introverts with moments of absolute hilarious extroversion. Playtime keeps a cat’s mind stimulated and reduces stress by providing interaction and exercise. Finding out what sort of toys your cats likes playing with is fun too! Some cats like feather teasers to jump and pounce at while others prefer small felt or fuzzy boys that connect to their hunting instinct. And there is the classic little red dot- which almost no cat can resist trying to catch so even a laser pointer provides valuable play, never shine it in the cat’s eyes. Spending 20-30 minutes a day playing with your cat every day to keep them svelte and they will reward you with purrs of happiness and being calmer.
Create a Place Where Your DJ Cat Can Scratch
Cats need to have scratching surfaces. Scratching is a natural and normal cat behavior. Cats use their claws and the glands in them to mark their territory. If they do not have a place to do so, they may scratch the curtains or couch which will cause you distress and annoyance and feed the cat’s anxiety. A cat needs a vertical and a horizontal scratching surface. He needs to know he’s welcome to mark that spot with his claws to his heart’s desire. Allow one surface per cat in your home. The more places a cat can feel he can make his own special space makes sure your cat feels at home and secure.
Let a Cat Climb
Cats enjoy being up high. Perches provide a spot where cats can survey the entire surrounding area for danger and avoid the problem if there is one, like the annoying puppy or the big grumpy cat. Cat condos, cat trees, cat shelving, and other objects are the places your cat needs to perch on. Provide areas on which your cat can climb or jump up on. To make a perch cozier, consider placing a cat bed, a baby blanket or a towel on the perch if it’s secure. A perch with a view of the outdoors lets you cat have Cat TV access and entertainment. Make sure there are enough spots for every cat in your home. Even with a floor to the ceiling cat tree, you cannot always expect all your cats to climb up and share so vary the perches and places a cat can go climbing to when he wants to get away and survey their environment and avoid a stressor from a top-down point of view.
Cats Need Hideouts and Secret Clubhouses
Every cat needs a place of refuge and a private place of refuge when feeling overwhelmed or upset. Cats need a safe place where they can relax and calm down sometimes. Not having access to a place they can get away from everything and pull their selves together will cause a cat that’s stressed and anxious to feel more nervous. Hiding places can be a box or even a carrier in which your cat can seek shelter. If you have a cat bully, blocking the line of sight between the bully and victim encourages a cat from being in red alert status. Empty cardboard boxes or a cat carrier left open with a blanket soft fabric toy or blanket in it is sometimes the only hiding place a cat needs.
Keep Things Constant
Cats don’t do well with change. Cats can be incredibly stressed out by changes in their environment or routine. Even new furniture can sometimes disturb a cat deeply, especially if they had marked the old couch. Keeping a daily routine for mealtimes and such can benefit your cat. Minimizing changes and chaos in the cat’s environment can keep your cat mentally fit and happy. Familiarity decreases feline stress and anxiety.
Consider Professional Help
If nothing alleviates your cat’s anxiety and it worsens, you should consult for a vet for advice. There are pheromone products that work on a biochemical level to calm a cat and reduce anxiety symptoms, and in the most extreme cases, even cats can benefit from medications that help them with their mood and stress management like Prozac.
It’s ok if your cat is a bit neurotic, all cats are a little bit crazy and crazy cat ladies, or crazy cat men are good things as they care for awesome cats that need it. You can help make your cat feel calm, in control and at peace with his environs. Whenever you comfort the pet that comforts you, you both benefit from stress reduction.