Signs That Your Kitty Is Stressed


Any cat lover knows that cats are unique and majestic little beings with the tendency to be complicated. If you read the blog, Meet the Team, you will see that Cheeky (Chekitty) is one of our rescue cats and she has the tendency to lick her stomach raw if anything in her environment changes. For example, she becomes stressed– if the couches are reupholstered, if there is another member that joins the team, and/or if a human suddenly changes their routine etc. Fortunately, a cortisone shot at the vet sorts her out (until next time when a new painting is placed on the wall etc.).

The point is …cats “talk” to us; it is our duty as their guardians and subjects, to listen carefully and act decisively to ensure these regal little fluff-balls remain healthy, happy and stress-free.

So, without further a meows, here are some signs of a stressed-out kitty.

Talk, Talk, Talk – Increased Vocalisation

Your cat may start meowing more frequently, louder, or urgently and even clamber on you and meow in your face. Increased (especially sudden) vocalisation is definitely something you should pay attention to; because chances are your cat is trying to tell you something.

O.C. and O.T.T. Grooming – Excessive Grooming

If you know your kitties, you know how ritualistic and thorough they can be when it comes to grooming.

When you should be concerned is when your kitty creates bald patches, licks until they have sores, licks excessively in the same area, scratches continually over the same area or starts pulling out his/her fur. If you have recently de-flea-ed, de-ticked and dewormed your cats – excessive grooming should be checked out at the vet. Yes, it can be allergies; but it can also be stress – both of which needs veterinary attention.

Anger Management Issues – Increased Aggression

Another sign of stress in cats is increased aggression. The aggression can be directed at a human or another animal. Don’t ever punish your cat if they act out in an uncharacteristic manner. Try to catch them with a towel and place them in a carrier and take them to the vet for a full examination and/or get treatment for stress or whatever may possibly be causing the sudden change in behaviour.

Sleeping Beauty – Sleep Habits

Cats are masters of the nap and spend most of their lives sleeping (usually after their tummy is full; thorough grooming has been completed and they have kneaded their blankies). But if your cat is spending too much time sleeping, so much so that they are eating less or just not moving, it can be a sign of stress or illness.

On the other paw, if your cat is not sleeping, but obsessively walking, or pacing to the point that they are losing weight and not eating – something is up. Cats naturally patrol the house – checking that everything is in order and to their satisfaction. But this patrolling isn’t  urgent, stressed pacing up and down from outside to inside or room to room.

Social Changes – Clingy and Distant

If your fur-baby is usually cuddly and affectionate and suddenly becomes distant and isolated – something may be up. In the same way, if your confident kitty suddenly becomes clingy or climbs on you and is in your face something may be up. Although a whole range of things can be up, this change in social behaviour is common in stressed cats.

It’s important to note that a change in social behaviour is not restricted to human interaction. You may see your kitty is acting strangely –clingy or distant – with the other pets in the house.

On Diet – Loss of Appetite

If you have many cats (which is the tendency with most cat owners – “just can’t get enough feline fluffies”), it may be harder to detect if one of them isn’t eating. Especially, if you are free-feeding your fur-babies.

But you know your cats; and you always spend time observing them – if they seem quiet and withdrawn and not circling their food bowls like a merry-go-round and howling from “starvation” when you are in the kitchen, they may be stressed (or have something else up with them). If they refuse to eat for 24 hours (and you haven’t changed their food), make an urgent appointment with your vet.

Oh, Dear Tummy – Runny or Constipated

If your cats do their business outside, it may be difficult to know if their tummy is runny or if they are constipated. If you have a litterbox it may be slightly more obvious. Either way, a stressed kitty often has tummy troubles.

Some cats rub their bums on carpets and furiously lick their bum bits when they are constipated – they will look uncomfortable. On the other hand, diarrhoea is usually very smelly and often your kitty will have “messed” on their back legs (especially fluffy cats) – so if you smell something foul, check it out.

Shoot and Miss – Mess Around the Litterbox

If your kitty is stressed, it won’t be uncommon for them to miss the litterbox. Other reasons may be that the litterbox is too full and dirty for your kitty, or in the case of you having multiple cats, there may be too few litterboxes (should at least be a litterbox per kitty).

If the litterbox is clean and you have the litterbox- cat ratio correct, your cat may be telling you something is up. If this continues or is done in combination with any of the other signs described in this blog, it is time for a vet’s visit.

Kitties are beautiful, unique, sensitive souls and loving-in-their-own-way-creatures that only the most intelligent and poetic humans can apppreciate and understand. You know your cats best. Always trust your feline intuition and instincts; and when in doubt check it out (at your local and trusted vet).

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