Signs that show your cat may be stressed


Pallavi Bhattacharya
Stress is sadly a part and parcel of modern life. It affects not only humans but animals too, that includes your cat. There are tell-a-tale signs which indicate that your cat is a frazzled feline. Here are few symptoms to watch out in this respect.
Kitties can also undergo stress, which affects their behaviour. Here are a few signs that show that your cat may be stressed:
Excessive grooming: When under duress, a human being may tend to take frequent showers or brush teeth excessively, in a psychological tendency to wash off the stress. Cats have a tendency to regularly groom themselves, even if not stressed. When troubled, cats tend to groom themselves more than required. Excessive grooming may lead to rapid hair loss; they may pull out tufts of hair, which may create sores in their body.
Loss of appetite: When you’re anxious and upset; dishes which you find delicious, may seem hard for you to stomach. It’s the same for cats as well. Stressed cats may paw aside a bowl of treats. When stress weighs extremely heavily on the cat, he may completely stop eating. When cats can’t have a morsel, then the liver starts using fat as energy, which may lead to liver failure, which may also turn out to be fatal. Syringe feeding may be required, if the cat cannot intake food at all.
Defecating outside litter box: Despite being litter trained, you cat may defecate outside the litter trays and it is the sign showing the feline is under stress. If you scold him, then he may just end up getting even more tensed. He may still continue to litter outside the stipulated litter area. By deviating from the litter rules and regulations, your cat may be trying to convey to you that he’s feeling uneasy. Often the addition of a new pet, may lead to this kind of behaviour. The cat may do this for other reasons than being stressed though. If you keep the litter box pristine and try to keep the setup appealing, then the cat, despite being bogged down, may litter where he is supposed to.
Aggression: When you are stressed, you may lose your cool at the slightest provocation. Similarly, stress may trigger sudden aggression in cats. Their patience and tolerance levels may be very low. His body language may have offensive and defensive postures, thereby elucidating belligerence. He may stop mewing and purring sweetly and acrimoniously hiss instead, or break into a pitiful wail. Temper tantrums are merely an outlet to frustration. These cats may be more prone to cat fights.
Hiding: While battling stress, some of us may want to tackle it all by ourselves. At that time, we may shirk human company as we may find it irksome. Similarly, cats may want to be all alone, when undergoing a phase of prolonged distress. How do they manage that — by hiding from the company of humans and other animals? He may always be seeking a hideout, from where he may not be coming out, even when coaxed with the most delicious treats. Cats don’t yearn for human companionship as much as dogs do, but avoiding you, by perpetually going into hiding, is unnatural.
Excessive scratching: Many of us may get fidgety, when facing the brunt of stress. Some of us may even damage household property. Cats too may, in their restlessness, turn to scratch and damage things more than they usually do. Shouting at the cat may put the animal through more stress, thereby aggravating the inclination to scratch. Scratching is a natural behaviour in cats and you cannot quite stop them from doing so. Never declaw the cat if this happens. Nor punish him. Providing him a scratching post may help him release his frustration, just as we may vent our anger by hitting a punching bag.
Increased sleeping: Cats, like us, may simply want to sleep their worries away. A sign of depression in all living beings may be that they may increase the number of hours that they are asleep. Whereas, it is true that cats do oversleep, and kittens and older cats sleep for longer; if an adult cat, who is not an elderly cat, is sleeping for more than 16 hours a day, stress may be one of the plausible reasons.
Decreased sleeping: Whereas depression may make some living beings sleep more, it may rob others of sleep. During our most stressful days, some of us may have kept on staring upwards at the ceiling fan, unable to sleep a wink without sedatives. Similarly, some cats may be deprived of sleep while bearing the agony of stress. As sleep helps to heal and rejuvenate all living beings, the lack of it (sleep) will only make the stress worse. Aggression may consequently increase. Cats love to sleep, so a decrease in sleep is more detrimental to them than added hours of slumber.
Changes in digestion process: Stress may express itself in psychosomatic symptoms in all living beings. One of these symptoms may be digestive disorders. Constipation, diarrhoea and other digestive complications may arise in your cat, not because of disease causing germs but the undergoing stress. Digestive disorders may lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and a disruption of the acid base balance. Malnutrition arising thereof may prove fatal for your feline. Efficient digestion is required for the cat to build and repair tissues and to generate energy. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, wherein the cat’s bowels get inflamed may be brought about by stress.
Changes in urination: Yet another symptom of stress in cats is changes in the texture of urine and urinary discomfort. Stress hormones cause the bladder lining to become inflamed. Frequent urination, discomfort while passing urine, and bloody urine; are worrisome symptoms, which need the prompt attention of a vet. Besides treating the symptoms of stress, the causes of stress should be treated as well. If the cat’s pet parents are stressed and always fighting, then the animal may naturally get stressed as well. The triggers of stress must be ascertained. Just like a frightened child is soothed lovingly by a parent, a cat should be affectionately comforted by his pet parent as well. A reassuring hug, cuddle or petting may ease the frayed nerves of the cat. A vet needs to be consulted on how to mitigate stress. If the pet parent’s home is quiet, calm and loving, the cat may be less likely to suffer from stress or be able to get well fast.