Tips on how to help an anxious cat
Do you have an anxious cat at home and you’re struggling to help calm their nerves? Have you been brushing over changes in habit that could be signs of stress and discomfort? There are lots of ways your cat could be trying to tell you that they’re distressed that you haven’t noticed, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about this. I’ve been researching some tips on how to help an anxious cat and am here to discuss them.
I’m here to help you identify if your cats are feeling anxious and how you can help them to feel more comfortable and trusting in your living environment.
Symptoms of stress
So, the first thing to do is to recognise the symptoms of stress.
Now there are many ways your cat can be doing this and as I said, some of them you might not have realised were a sign. Some indications are:
- Eating more/less
- Sleeping more
- Vomiting, diarrhoea
- Going to the toilet around the house, out of the litter tray
- Fur standing up
- Hissing, growling
- Excessive grooming (you might notice bald spots)
- Overreacting to loud noises or sudden movements
To be completely honest, I had no idea that if a cat was sleeping more it could mean that they were stressed. I would’ve assumed they had had a big night of hunting! Of course, not all of these will immediately mean that your cat is anxious. Like going to the toilet out of their litter tray could mean that they’re having trouble controlling their bladder. However, it is a good idea to assess other situations that might go alongside it. Once you have assessed whether any of these symptoms could be due to stress, it is a good idea to identify why your cat might be stressed, and what is causing them to feel this way?
Identifying the causes of stress
You might not have noticed any changes yourself but even little things that you might’ve disregarded could be huge to your cat. Some of the causes/triggers to look out for could be:
- Sudden changes in your environment or routine
- Loud noises
- Resource competition (things like sharing food, sharing litter boxes, or attention from their owner)
- Animals outside the house/Other cats on the street
Obviously, you can’t help some of these triggers – like it’s quite hard to stop neighbouring cats from walking around your house and sometimes loud noises will just occur unexpectedly. However, some of these can be adapted in order to avoid putting that stress on your cat.
Removing the triggers for you anxious cat
As I’ve said, removing the triggers of what could be making your cat anxious isn’t always as easy as we’d like. However, the majority of them can be helped by just taking time. If you come to have a big change in your environment or your routine, you can try doing it gradually.
Say for example you’ve just got your second cat and you’re going to introduce them to your original cat who had been the only cat in your home for years. It’s definitely going to be a shock to them. Throwing them into a room together is never going to work out, so try letting them see each other from across the room first. Or maybe you could slowly move their food bowls together after starting with each one in different rooms. Some processes will take longer than others. But remember that each cat will have their own speed at how fast they want to take things.
If you’re finding that your cats are feeling anxious from resource competition from food, why not try microchip feeders? They’re definitely not the cheapest option but they will ensure that each of your cats gets the food that has been put out for them.
Provide positive alternatives
You might not be willing or able to buy the expensive (or just in general new) gear in order to help your anxious cats – and that’s completely fine! It’s not always about the fancy equipment or toys for your cats. Sometimes they just need a little bit of love.
Affection is so important to cats – whether they’d want to admit it or not.
Providing a safe space for your cat where they can be close to you will earn you their trust and make their anxieties feel lesser. And toys! Cats don’t necessarily need store-bought toys for a bit of fun. Try a shoelace or a bit of cardboard they can scratch, they love it!
Transforming the environment
If your cat is feeling anxious it might be a good idea to include some changes to their environment. Many cats like to be high up so cat trees are brilliant! Our lovely Ronnie is up on his cat tree more than he is on the ground – he does a lot of sleeping up there. In our cat-crazy house, we also have some ‘cat shelves’ which have been stuck onto our bi-fold doors which Ronnie and Billie love to show off. Being high up can provide a safe space for cats if they ever get overwhelmed.
Cat beds can also provide a safe space for a cat as they tend to mark it as their own so that other cats won’t sleep there. Additionally, you could install a catio (cat-patio) which is perfect if you have cats that you want to keep inside but they might want to go out. It’s a perfect in-between to help relieve their stress and to keep you calm in knowing that they are safe.
Additional tips and tricks
Whilst hopefully what we’ve already gone through has helped in some way, sometimes cats might need that little extra. Something that we use in our ‘My Three Cats household’ quite often is a calming product like sprays or diffusers. These are used to mimic natural cat pheromones to calm cats of their anxieties. Here’s one I found on Amazon:
If you’re worried that your cat isn’t feeling any more comfortable or any less anxious then it might be worth looking into anxiety medication. You can make a visit to your vet and explain that you’ve tried everything and they can evaluate if anxiety medication would benefit your cat.
Is your anxious cat feeling better?
After trying any of these tips to help an anxious cat, is your cat feeling more comfortable? Are you noticing a difference in their anxieties? Let me know if any of these tips have helped by sharing this post on social media.
Information in this post has been created by research and opinions of My Three Cats. We do not provide medical advice. If your cat experiences any issues, please get in touch with your vet immediately.