a cat being cuddled by owner

Happy home, happy cat – reducing cat anxiety and managing stress in your cat

Having a stressed cat can be distressing for a cat lover – let alone for your anxious pet! After all, we all want our pets to be happy and content. If you suspect your cat is stressed out, here are a few ways to get them purring again.

Identifying the signs of stress in cats

A stressed cat can be hard to diagnose, so it’s always best to talk to your vet for advice if you believe your cat is exhibiting signs of anxiety. It’s also worth noting that all of the signs of stress in cats may be signs of something else – your vet will help put your mind at rest.

While some signs can be obvious indicators of stress – such as bald patches on the cat’s fur caused by excessive grooming – many symptoms of cat anxiety are more subtle. 

Common signs of cat anxiety:

  • Excessive grooming and hair loss
  • Changes in appetite
  • Playing less
  • Urine spraying
  • Hiding away
  • Changes in behaviour

Causes of a stressed cat

If you’ve spotted changes in your cat’s behaviour it could be a sign of stress. 

Anxiety can weaken your cat’s immune system, and a stressed cat can go on to develop health problems, so it’s vital to recognise the signs and reduce stress as much as possible for your furry friend.

Some causes of cat anxiety are easy to identify – perhaps you have a newborn baby in the house, you’ve introduced a new pet as a companion, you’re having building work carried out in your home or a neighbour’s cat is muscling in on your cat’s territory.  All of these can trigger a stressed cat. But cats are sensitive creatures that like their day-to-day routine, and even the smallest changes can disturb your cat’s peace of mind, from a new brand of litter to strangers in the home.

Similarly, fireworks and thunderstorms can be hugely stressful to your cat, so make sure he or she has a safe, comfortable place to retreat to, as far from the noise as possible. A comforter or favourite toy can help your cat feel protected, and reduce anxiety.

How to help a stressed cat

The best way to reduce cat anxiety is to remove the source of the stress. Of course, if you’ve welcomed a new pet – or a new arrival – to your home, that’s harder to do. 

To minimise stress, try to introduce your cat to the new arrival in stages. Gradually introducing him or her to the sound, smell and sight of your new pet or baby can help to reduce stress. Our article provides tips on introducing a new animal to the household. 

Always make sure your cat has a safe place away from the source of the stress. It’s also important to keep your cat’s food bowl, litter tray and resting area separate, and provide high surfaces where your cat can retreat should they need to.

If you’ve done all you can to ease anxiety in your cat but symptoms persist – or you need help or advice about a stressed cat – always talk to your local vet as there are now several aids to reducing cat stress available..

“Keep your cat’s food bowl, litter tray and resting area separate, and provide high surfaces for your cat to retreat to.”

Need advice on cat anxiety and stress?

For expert advice on reducing cat anxiety, and treatments for a stressed cat, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.