The Holistic Approach to Feline Stress by Layla Morgan Wilde
We all know the tell-tale signs of obvious stress like running breathless to catch a flight, meeting a tight work deadline or waiting for hospital test results, but what about our cats? Just because cats lounge around all day, don’t work or have to worry about paying the mortgage doesn’t mean they don’t experience stress. Every living thing is susceptible to stress. Cats like all pets are sensitive to pet stress but perhaps more so being as hyper-alert and aware as they are. As a holistic cat behaviorist, the longer I observe cats, the more I’m convinced they don’t miss a thing! But they can’t pick up the phone and dial 911. It’s up to us to come to their rescue.
Stressed cats can exhibit stress in a number of ways from hiding, shedding excessively, quivering, refusing to eat, panting, diarrhea, not using their litter box, licking their lips or appearing skittish. Every cat has a unique personality. By daily play sessions with your cat, make a note of when they are acting differently or not their usual self.
What can stress your cat? In one word: change. A change in their home from moving furniture to home repairs, new food, new neighbors (two or four-legged), house guests, moving to a new home, having a new pet member or new human family. Other stressful factors may include: diseases, parasites, inadequate or food or water, sudden or sustained loud noise i.e. thunderstorms, fireworks, ambulance siren, construction, environmental changes i.e temperature that is too hot or cold.
What are some of the best stress relief techniques and remedies for cats? Identifying the stressful situation is the first step towards designing an effective management program.
- Learn to recognize your cat’s normal range of emotions.
- Provide hygienic environment including clean food water & bowls and surrounding areas.
- Keep the cat litter clean and in a quiet, ventilated easy to access location.
- Keep sleeping beds/cushions locations clean and parasite-free.
- Monitor interactions with other family members from children who might tease or play rough, the roommate or boyfriend who doesn’t like cats to other pets who may be bullying him or her.
- Giving cats natural (herbals) and homeopathic therapies or supplements can aid cut their stress levels which help also improve the cat’s immunity as well as support the nervous system.
The kindest thing we can do for our cats’ stress levels is to keep our own stress in check. Yelling, slamming doors or quietly fuming does no good for anyone. Healthy expression of emotions via exercise, dancing, brisk walking, deep breathing, meditation and yoga are helpful as is simply playing and laughing with your cat. If your cat enjoys massage, stroking their fur will make both of you feel good while mutually lowering blood pressure. Your cat will let you know when she’s had enough by walking away. Or she may use a more subtle method. If she’s getting over-stimulated watch for side to side swishing of her tail. If that’s the case, stop or your cat may lash out, bite or scratch.