The cat is an animal that due to its features, tend to suffer from stress when the environment around it changes. Some of the situations causing stress in our cats are:
Changes in the home may occur. The established order in the previous home has gone, such as the facial marks, and the areas for the cat to relax, play and urinate and defecate.
You may be having reformation works or changes in the home by painting etc or you may be changing the furniture.
There may be new people at home, such as a new baby, visitors or new cats or other animals.
Your circumstances may have changed so that the cat now has to stay alone at home for long periods of time or under the care of unfamiliar people.
You might have to come to the vet’s, kennels, etc.
The way in which a stressed cat reacts can be focused on:
Passiveness: the animal may try to hide in different places, where it will feel himself safer, for some days or weeks.
Marking excess: the animal insists on marking its territory in two ways. The first one is rubbing itself against the wall to leave its facial pheromones over it and which will calm it down when it recognises them. The second one is really disturbing and is aimed at its competitors. It consists of marking the different areas of the environment with its claws and urinating and defecating out of its litter tray.
Aggressiveness: Another way for cats to respond to stress is by being aggressive towards other animals or the owner.
If your cat has developed one of these three symptoms, the first thing we have to do is to rule out if this is due to a physical problem, or is it really motivated by stress. We have four action ways to try to correct these behavioural problems.
To reduce stress.
Give the cat places that make it feel safer, like a simple box and avoid all disturbing situations.
Treat it softly. Don’t touch the cat unnecessarily, because it will not like it and it will only make it more scared. Never tell it off, or shout at it. That would only contribute to increase its fear. We are used to hierarchy and discipline with dogs, but cats, due to their primitive lonely instinct, don’t see us as chiefs or leaders; we are just equals.
Education. Play with the cat with balls, ropes, sticks etc. Use positive reinforcement such as prizes, stroking and not negative ones such as water guns.
Medical and/or surgical treatments. Certain psychotropic medicines and the castration of male cats can efficiently help to solve these problems.
Pheromonotherapy. In almost all the situations causing stress, the application of the F3 pheromone minimizes the adaptation periods and reduces the tension in cats living at home. They may also help with many of the diseases such as idiomatic cystitis, anorexia, bulimia, compulsive licking, etc.
Article written and supplied by Paco,
Clinica Veterinaria, Puerto de Mazarrón