In the same way that humans get stressed so do our pets. Knowing how to calm a cat with anxiety can make for a happier kitty and closer relationship.
Cats are very sensitive animals that don’t always respond well to change. Moving home or introducing a new pet can turn your cat’s life upside down. In this post we’ll be looking at why your cat may be stressed as well as effective ways to calm her down.
Why is my cat stressed?
Of course, every cat is different, but you’ll find at least one of these solutions works. Always show lots of patience and love and you will turn your stressed feline into a calm, laid back kitty!
This is a question asked by many cat parents at one time or another. As they can’t tell you how they feel, it’s down to you to work out what’s going on.
Sometimes it can be something so obvious it gets overlooked. What may seem nothing to us can be overwhelmingly stressful to a cat.
For example, another cat spraying up against the wall outside can be very threatening. Male cats do this as a way to mark their territory.
Moving home can turn your cat’s world upside down
Your kitty may be nervous of going outside, especially if that cat is a regular visitor. She’ll pick up on the scent left by the tom cat and know immediately the boundaries of his territory, and roughly when he visited.
Moving furniture and redecorating is one thing, but moving home can totally stress your cat. It’s bad enough for us, but imagine how it can affect your cat.
Your kitty rubs her scent against everything in her home creating a safe, familiar space. Any change can make your cat feel very disorientated.
Being uprooted means her familiar territory no longer exists. All the smells and sounds she was used to have gone, and now she’s in this strange, unfamiliar place.
How to calm an anxious cat with the addition of a new baby in the home
Bringing a new baby home or introducing another pet can stress your cat. She may feel threatened by the new addition and end up suffering anxiety or depression.
Unless cats are introduced to babies at a young age they’ve no experience and may react in a negative way. You can avoid this by making sure your fur baby gets lots of love and cuddles.
Don’t ignore your cat no matter how demanding your baby is. Even a few minutes play time here and there will make her feel calmer. As your baby develops encourage bonding with the cat. It’s hugely beneficial for children to grow up with pets in the home
The stress of car journeys
Most cats hate travelling unless they’ve become used it at a young age. Most times the only reason you’ll take your cat in the car is to visit the vet. I know the stresses of trying to coax your cat into a pet carrier.
In fact, I don’t know who gets more stressed, the cat or me!! It’s like they know as soon as you get the pet carrier out. I’m sure the vet has to allow for raised heart rates and blood pressure. (The cat’s, not mine!!)
Is your cat being bullied?
It’s not just the ride to the vet that makes your cat stressed. You’re taking her out of her safe space with all its familiar scents. Your car will have a different odour, and the vets waiting room will be full of scents from other pets.
If you have a multi pet household there may be a chance your stressed kitty is being bullied. It’s not only people that suffer from bullying. There is a hierarchy among our pets to.
Your kitty may also be subject to bullying from neighbour’s cats. Just like people don’t always get along with each other the same goes for our feline friends.
Does your cat get bored?
Just like us, cats get bored if they lack mental stimulation. Though your cat spends a lot of time sleeping, when she’s awake she’ll be active.
If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors there won’t be a problem as she’ll get plenty to stimulate her senses. However, if she’s kept indoors while you’re out all day you’ll need to provide entertainment.
There are robotic cat toys that provide hours of fun encouraging hunt and chase. You can also get toys with running mice on a track. There are gaps in the enclosed track allowing your cat to try and catch the mice.
Cat trees with high perches also provide both mental stimulation and exercise. Your cat will benefit from jumping up on the perches as well as being able to survey her territory from a high vantage point!
Does your cat hate it when you leave the house?
Separation anxiety can cause stress. If your cat hates it when you leave the house she may become very clingy. Though many people believe cats are solitary animals, they do need company.
If your cat meows a lot when you’re about to go out or shows excessive affection she may suffer from separation anxiety. Although your cat won’t be as destructive as a dog, she may start urinating outside the litter tray.
Can feline dementia cause stress?
In the same way as elderly people can develop cognitive issues, so can your cat. Feline dementia is similar to that in humans and can make your cat stressed and confused.
Signs to watch out for include circling, staring blankly into space or hiding in corners. You know your own cat and should always take note of any changes in behaviour.
If your normally sociable cat becomes withdrawn you need to keep an eye on her. If she’s elderly there may be a number of reasons with feline dementia being one of them.
Getting your cat checked over by a vet can help spot elderly cat health problems before they develop. Stress can be a sign of illness in a cat, so if you can’t find any obvious reason it may be a good idea to consult your vet.
What are the signs of anxiety in cats?
Any behaviour such as peeing in the house, obsessive grooming, meowing a lot, or becoming withdrawn are signs your kitty may be stressed. If none of the reasons I’ve covered here seem to fit, and the vet has checked her over, don’t start worrying.
Cats are such funny creatures and as I previously mentioned can be upset by things we wouldn’t give a second thought to. Even something as simple as trying a new brand of cat litter can leave your kitty stressed!
What are the best treatments for anxiety in cats?
There are many treatments for calming a stressed kitty, but not all will work for all cats. Some such as Feliway though are very effective. It’s really just trial and error to find what works best, and I’ve covered a few solutions below..
What is Feliway and can it calm your cat?
Feliway is one of the best known products for making your cat feel calm. It contains a synthetic version of the pheromones found in your cat’s cheek.
You’ve probably noticed how she rubs her head against you ,as well as every object in the home she’s marked as hers! A cat will only do this if it’s feeling comfortable in the surrounding environment.
Many cat owners find Feliway highly effective, and a lot of vetinary surgeries have diffusers installed to help calm their patients. You can buy Feliway as a spray or diffuser you plug in to a wall socket.
Watch the video below as vetinary expert Sarah Endersby explains all about Feliway.
Does catnip calm cats?
Catnip is the feline equivalent of cannabis, and can make your cat feel very laid back! You can buy it, or even grow it in your garden. You can also get cat toys stuffed with catnip.
Some cats are more responsive to it than others, and for some it has no effect at all. How sad!! You’ll only know it it will work for your cat by trying her with it.
Apparently it makes them feel high for about 15 minutes or so. It’s in no way harmful for your cat and could be a good way to calm her when she gets stressed.
Does valerian work for cats and is it harmful?
Valerian is a herb that’s commonly taken in tea to reduce feelings of anxiety. It’s very effective and used by many people as a mild sedative.
Is valerian safe for your cat? Research has found that actinidine oil that’s found in the root can have the same effect on your kitty as catnip.
It’s very safe but must never be given in pill form. The best way to expose your cat to valerian is to use it in an oil burner.
Play relaxation music to make your stressed kitty feel calm
We all know the soothing effect relaxation music has, but can it make your cat feel calm? Studies have shown that pets respond well to soft, calming music, with classical being the preferred choice for cats.
In particular, cats respond well to sounds of a similar tone to meowing and purring. The vibrational frequency of purring is very healing, which is why owning a cat is so beneficial for your health.
If your cat gets anxious when you’re out you could consider getting relaxation music for cats and leaving it playing.
Interestingly, Patton vetinary hospital have been experimenting with various ways to calm their patients. One thing they found was that playing classical music to cats undergoing surgery improved respiratory rates.
Make your cat calm for a happier cat and closer bond
If your cat is calm and relaxed she’s also happier. Plus, you’ll find the bond between you becomes closer. Cats are highly sensitive creatures and can get stressed by things you’d never consider.
Moving furniture, bullying from other pets, a new baby, or even a change of cat litter are just some of them. Never rule out illness unless you get your cat checked by the vet.
Finding what works to calm a cat with anxiety is trial and error. Once you discover how to turn your stressed kitty into a chilled, laid back cat stick to it.
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Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂
4 thoughts on “How To Calm A Cat With Anxiety For A Calm, Laid Back Feline!”
I like the article. We have two cats, one of which is very sociable and will let you pet it, but the other one is very skiddish or wild so to speak. It hardly ever comes around anyone. I wish I knew why that was. I don’t know, but I wonder if you gave him any catnip to help him relax if that would help ? I think part of the issue as well may be that it moved a very long distance from where it was used to, and maybe it just never got used to being here. Anyway, very informative and helpful in understanding your cat’s psychie.
Thank you for your comment Justin. Cats are all so different, just like we are, and maybe your cat will settle in time. Moving is highly stressful for a cat, and takes a while for them to mark out their new territory. There may be other issues going on, but yes, definitely try catnip. 🙂
Great article Kathy! Very informative on some of the why’s of the mysterious cat lol. I have been using Feliway on my cat for years and have recently been trying to ween it away to see if she is ok without it. So far she is doing great, I think it changed her mindset that she had with anxiety. Thanks for the info!
Hi Pam, thank you for your comment. Cats can become dependant on things in just the same way we can:) So glad your cat is doing ok now. Yes, Feliway probably did play a big part in reducing her anxiety! It worked wonders for a previous cat I owned. I Used to spray the inside of my car with it before taking her to the vet, and she was mostly calm the whole way there:)