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Does your cat suffer from stress? Recognize symptoms


Acute stress in cats is triggered, for example, by a fright, a dangerous situation or a sudden change in the environment. However, your cat can also suffer from chronic stress. The symptoms of permanent stress are more subtle than in an acute stressful situation. However, the following tips can help you identify the signs and help your cat. This tortoiseshell cat shows signs of stress after a bath: applied ears, crouched posture, dilated pupils - Shutterstock / Sheila Fitzgerald

Caution! Stress can make your cat sick in the long run, and many stress symptoms can also indicate existing diseases. So if you notice one or more of the following signs in your cat, a cautionary visit to the vet is advisable.

Symptoms of cat language in acute stress

The symptoms of acute stress show quite clearly that your cat is unsettled, maybe even scared. She freezes and makes herself very small, her entire body language simultaneously indicates withdrawal and increased vigilance - as if she were afraid. Pay attention to the following stress signs:

  • ● Freeze
  • ● Crouched posture
  • ● Legs bent, paws close to the body
  • ● Tail curled up
  • ● Head down
  • ● Eyes wide open, pupils dilated
  • ● Ears on and folded back
  • ● Whiskers are withdrawn
  • ● tremor and rapid breathing
  • Hissing, growling or rumbling
  • ● Whine, whimper or whine
  • ● Uncontrolled urination or feces
  • ● Reacts aggressively to advances

Stay calm at this moment, don't get too close to your unsettled cat and think about what could have caused the stress. Try to fix the stressful situation so that your fur nose can calm down again. If your cat has come to rest, you can stroke it and speak to it in a low, gentle voice so that it knows that everything is OK. Behave normally and calmly, otherwise your kitty thinks that something is wrong.

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Changed behavior due to chronic stress

Chronic stress often causes a cat to develop behavioral problems. But even subtle changes in behavior can be symptoms that something has been causing your cat discomfort for a long time. Chronic stress is also often a problem for cats in the shelter, where they often do not have enough opportunities to retreat when needed. However, how susceptible cats are to stress also depends on their cat personality and socialization. As with humans, there are cats that can hardly be shaken by anything, and cats that are very frightened and nervous. Good socialization through early habituation to a variety of everyday stimuli such as vacuuming, road traffic, different people and encounters with other animals can help to make cats more stress-resistant. It is also important not to separate kittens from their cat mother too early, as they can and must learn a lot from her.

If your cat has the following symptoms and behavior problems, there may be chronic stress behind it:

  • ● Sudden loss of appetite or sudden swallowing of food
  • ● Hiding and retreating, especially in otherwise trusting cats
  • ● Aggressiveness towards people or animals, especially with otherwise meek fur noses
  • ● Affection and a strong need for contact, especially in otherwise shy cats
  • ● Increased need for sleep
  • ● Litteriness, peeing and vomiting outside the litter box
  • ● Grooming and hygiene are neglected
  • ● Grooming and hygiene are exaggerated and compulsive
  • ● Increased alertness and fearfulness
  • ● Freelancers suddenly stay in the apartment, regardless of the weather
  • ● Playfulness subsides, listlessness and lethargy
  • ● Eating inedible things, pica syndrome
  • ● Other behavior changes and stereotypical behavior patterns

With the cat to the vet?

If your cat can calm down after acute stress and is completely old the next day, everything is fine and you usually don't need to worry. However, if she still looks scared or stressed the next day, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended to make sure that she is not missing anything. Symptoms that indicate chronic stress can also be signs of pain or illness. It may also be the pain or illness that causes the stress. So always have the vet clarify conspicuous changes in behavior. If he cannot find a physical illness, contact a cat psychologist. It can help you and your cat fight stress.