Our little kitten turned one back in March and we have already treated her for an infection and a UTI as well. Not to mention, she seems more anxious than your average cat, so since I’ve read a number of books on cat personality and behavior, I thought I’d take some time to talk about anxiety in cats and what you can do for them if you have an anxious kitty of your own!
First things first, how did we realize she had a UTI/crystals? She started peeing in the bathtub. Cat’s tend to do those things because they want to see it, not to spite you. Another reason would be that they don’t like their litter. Cats tend to not like scented litter, since they have way more sensitive noses than we do. And just because we like to smell lavender when we pee, doesn’t mean that cats like that. You feel me?
So back to cat anxiety. Some cats can be extra anxious and things that you might see as a big deal might freak them out. Meaning:
- Schedule changes (if you suddenly start working)
- Food changes
- Lots of stray animals/feral animals in the yard
- Seperation anxiety
- Moving houses or even moving furniture
Cats scent mark everything, so moving houses stresses them out because nothing smells like them anymore and they have to go into every room and rub into everything. So I’m a little nervous to move with her, since I think it’ll really stress her out, having everything smell different. Our neighborhood also has a LOT of strays, I mean seriously, I’ve broken up cat fights in my yard before. Yuki always puffs up during those times, and is noticeably irritated.
We’ve also noticed other things that bother her, like loud music/sounds, cars in the street, the neighbors kids playing in the street, and anything that gets into the house (snakes and spiders). She fought with the first snake that got inside, which made it hard to sweep the thing into a trash can so I could toss it back outside. I also think Alex’s schedule change (him staying home all day during the summer) threw her off too.
How do we deal? We switched her food first, to mostly wet food, which helps with the crystals in her urine. (Cats can develop crystals from stress!) Next, we close the blinds at night and we also got calming treats from the vet. We decided we didn’t want a calming collar, and the pheromone diffuser doesn’t work well in open rooms, it is more suited to small rooms or apartments. So if you are considering a diffuser for a stressed animal, consider that if it’s in a room that larger than 7 by 7 feet, it won’t be as useful.
But how can you tell your cat is stressed?
- Sudden erratic behavior, huge pupils/running all around and generally freaking out
- Peeing or pooping outside the litter box
- Excessive grooming, meaning they mind groom a patch of baldness if it’s bad enough
- Excessive scratching
- Running away from you. Yes cats are often aloof, but if you stand up off the couch and your cat bolts, that’s a sign of stress
- Panicked meows. Note: Cats don’t meow at other cats, meowing is a how cats adapted to “talking” to humans. Cats can have a wide variety of meows that you can learn mean different things. So if you hear a meow that sounds more wailing and generally upsetting, that’s another sign
- Aggression (Yuki has NEVER hissed at me in over a year, but will hiss at friends or family if they overstep their bounds) I am mother cat so I have no boundaries to over step, apparently
- Loss of appetite
- All of these things happening concurrently
Most stress can be solved by examining things around the house, or thinking about major things that have changed recently. Did you get a new room mate? Did you get a new pet? Is your neighbors dog/cat hanging out in your yard? Did you move? Has your schedule drastically changed? Talk to your vet about solutions, calming collars, diffusers, or treats.
I put my cat’s health (physical and mental) above my my own. (Seriously though. I never look at the ingredients list while shopping unless I’m looking at cat food/treats and I refuse to buy things with high carb counts or food that doesn’t have pure meat as the first ingredient aka if chicken by-product is number 1, I won’t buy it) I avoid the doctors myself but I literally always call the vet about things. I hover mom my cat, granted, she also is glued to me and follows me all around the house. If I’m in that room, she’s in that room.
If you’re interested in more cat behavior, I completely suggest reading: Cat Sense by John Bradshaw, he also has one about dogs called Dog Sense, if that’s more your deal. I think the science behind pet behavior is very interesting, so it’s always a topic I try to read about it, when I hear of a new book in the genre.