Beating the Stress Blues!

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In today’s fast-paced life, stress is one of the most common problems that we face. The same holds true for our feline friends.
Cats are one of the most sensitive creatures, emotionally and psychologically; even a slight change in their routine can cause an unwanted psychological
Kritika Manchanda
reaction. The most common stressors for cats are environmental factors which later affect their behaviour and health.
What actually is stress? It is a condition when cortisones (these are steroid hormones released in response to stress) are released in the body due to external (environmental, physical, nutritional) or internal (psychological) factors.
Causes…
The causes of stress include:

  • Relocation: Moving to a new locality/city or travelling to a new place is not liked by cats and can increase their stress level exponentially.
  • Introduction of a new family member:Welcoming a new baby or your new spouse can be a moment of great joy for you but for your cat, it is a difficult situation. The kitty would open up on his own pace so don’t force him to rush. Let them both be comfortable in each other’s presence and build up a healthy and fruitful relationship.
  • Me time: Cats are very particular about their hideaways, their favourite couch or the table by the window. Keep in mind that they highly depend on verticals for their security. So, make sure that they are never devoid of accessing their favourite spots. Mostly they need their ‘alone time’ and would be found in one of their favourite places when they want to be with themselves. That’s their way of being away from the world which you must understand and respect.
  • New pet in the family: It is very important for you to consider the temperament of your cat before you plan to bring home a new pet (cat or dog). In the beginning, you may see some jealousy and rivalry building up but that is natural. It would be a great idea that you give them time to mix up and this process can take some time. Their resources and toys should be separate so that there is no fighting there. They will adjust to the situation but slowly, so don’t hurry as this would complicate the situation. And once the alpha member is decided everything would be sorted.
  • Vet visit: Visiting the vet may also trigger signs of mild stress in your kitty.
  • Physical stress: A physical injury in the form of a burn, cut, bruise or pain Beating the In today’s fast-paced life, stress is one of the most common problems that we face. The same holds true for our feline friends.  would make the cat irritated and fussy. Infections (throat, skin, stomach etc.) and fever would make them restless and as a result both the kitty and pet parent would be stressed.
  • Nutritional stress: Cats are very picky and choosy eaters, which add to their list of sensitivities. Even a minute change in their diet may lead to stress. Change in the food brand, change in the type of constituents of the diet and in some cases change in the meat may cause problems. But it does not end here. Consult your vet for nutritional imbalance which can cause stress in the animal.

Symptoms…
Unlike humans, cats cannot express their uneasiness through facial expressions and language, which means as a pet parent you need to be extra cautious about the signs and symptoms. Immediate symptoms include:

  • Increased scratching
  • Aggression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive grooming
  • Seclusion
  • Pulling out of fur
  • Excessive meowing
  • Becoming passive and unresponsive
  • Less interaction with family members
  • Improper elimination (may urinate or defecate in places other than their litter box)

Long-term consequences of a prolonged period of stress can be:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Increased risk of illness and disease
  • Increased chances of infections
  • Immune system breakdown (in case of chronic stress)

Beating stress blues…
According to Dr Mohan Kumar Shettar of Lifeguard Pet Clinic, Bengaluru, there are three kinds of therapies that can be used – allopathic targeted therapies, homeopathic remedies and alternate remedies. Allopathic remedies are tried and tested but can have side effects. In case of homeopathy, there are no side effects so it becomes an added advantage of the therapy, mentioned Dr Mohan. “Alternative therapies like aroma therapy is not very common because firstly it is expensive and secondly the end products are diluted with alcohol-based products which are not very helpful for felines,” he
added.
Be aware of what your cat is going through and if you smell anything fishy, apart from the fish in your cat’s food bowl, consult the vet immediately. Introduce a change slowly and give ample time to your kitty to adjust to the new routine. Talk about it to your cat and even if there are mild streaks of stress, with your love, pampering and care, they would sail through. 

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