Like us, cats can experience stress and it's usually triggered by changes in their environment. If you experience any change in behavior from your feline friend like litter box problems, aggression, hiding or anorexia - consult with your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical problems.
If your cat is given a good bill of health from your veterinarian, make a list of recent changes in the household. Did you just return from vacation? Is there a new family member or pet? Simple changes in your cat's life like a new house guest, construction on your street or your neighbor's barking dog can cause stress for a sensitive feline.
Once you determine the potential source(s) of the stress, you'll want to work on eliminating that stress for your cat. Be practical and make sure your cat has a safe refuge - a hideaway cubby in her cat tree, a quiet room or even a cardboard box with soft bedding. Next, provide your cat with plenty of fresh water, and if you're having problems getting her to eat, give her a variety of dry and wet foods to entice her appetite.
How else can I reduce stress for my cat?
• Limit changes in the environment. If you know there will be disruptors - like a new home or a vacation, be sure to transition your cat slowly. Give her a quiet space, as mentioned above, and slowly introduce her to new stimuli, rewarding her each step of the way with treats, playtime and extra attention.
• Good old-fashioned exercise with a wand toy, laser light or stuffed mice will get your cat moving and endorphins pumping. This will help them be to relax and be less anxious.
• Use catnip. Observe your cat's behavior and if she exhibits any further signs of stress or aggression, discontinue. Catnip usually makes cats more playful or relaxed.
• Use Feliway, a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone - this is what they use to mark. You'll notice your cat might rub her cheeks against your hand, the side of the couch or the doors - she's depositing her scent and claiming you! The idea with Feliway is that when used, the cat is given a sense of familiarity, which helps them cope with scary situations. You can find this product at your local pet store in the form of a spray or diffuser.
Consider using Feliway in the following situations:
• Changing homes
• Moving furniture
• While on vacation
• When introducing a new pet
• When placed in the crate for travel or for veterinary visits
If you're struggling to make your cat happy, consult with a feline behaviorist. They can identify potential stressors, recommend natural remedies, and work with you to conquer your cat's anxiety.