Stressed Human = Stressed Cat?
Cat Behavior 101,  Feline Fine Art

Stressed Human = Stressed Cat?

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Stressed Human = Stressed Cat? by Layla Morgan Wilde

Stressed Human = Stressed Cat?

Have you been stressed lately?

One of most common behavioral issues I see. stem from cats mirroring their guardian’s stress. Stress comes in many forms and it doesn’t always result from bad news. What might be exciting news like a new boyfriend, a wedding, graduation party or a dream vacation may stress a cat out from the changes leading up to and beyond the event.

Change is the sign of the times, but cats don’t like sudden change. Some cats, like some humans are more resilient to change and manage stress well. I’ve know cats blase about a roaring vacuum cleaners while others hide in the closet from the “beast”. Cats exhibit stress in from the subtle to the more pronounced like over-grooming, aggression to litter box issues. Some cats experience a stress response from humans and children yelling, arguing, workmen or delivery persons in the home or yard, any unusually loud noise or music, noisy renovations, landscapers, gardeners, painters,the installation of new wall-to-wall carpet (plus toxic off-gassing of synthetic fibers), replacing old furniture with new additions especially pieces where cats like to perch or nap, new scents, changes of food or litter locations, changes in their guardian’s work or school schedules. The list is endless. Most cats adjust to change but the goal is to prevent stress by creating awareness.

Could you be so stressed you don’t know how stressed you really are.

The classic Holmes and Rahe stress chart might provide some insight into hidden stresses and prompt healthy lifestyle changes. A stressed human doesn’t have to equal a stressed cat. The best de-stresser for cats and humans is regular consistent inter-active play, petting and snuggling with your cat. What’s your score? Mine is currently over 150. I better go snuggle with a cat for purr therapy. I’ll do us both good.

stress-human-chart-Holmes & Rahe-cats-behaviorist



  • Hairless Cat

    Hi Layla,

    All cats get stressed when their human gets stressed.

    They get extra stressed if the human is loud about it.

    But they can detect and are negatively impacted by a human who is “quietly” stressing. The cats are fine-tuned to their environment and that includes being tuned into their humans.

    When a human is quietly stressing, the cat will notice and become very concerned and stressed as well. Cats are like stress amoebas – they absorb every stress vibe within hearing distance.

    Best solution is for the human to be proactive about their own stress management and not to be vocal about it or too mentally consumed by it around the kitties.

    Stress is a form of pain and we don’t want to make it our cat’s problem too. Stress management.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

  • Kathy Thompson

    Stress the bane of our existence! We all gotta chill more often!! Luvs and stress free purrs to all! Skeeter and Izzy

  • Abby

    We are very blessed to live in a mainly stress free environment. Of course that could change at the drop of a hat, but right now we are all very lucky.

  • Caren Gittleman

    Poor Cody he doesn’t stand a chance. Between mom’s health challenges going on right now, our step daughter’s wedding this June (with all of the drama that goes with THAT), Mom’s being behind in blogging/visiting etc….poor Cody.

    That being said. I am sitting here completely FRAZZLED right now and Cody is literally snoring away at the bottom of his cat tree (in the little Keebler Elf hole lol)

    Go figure….

  • Ingrid King

    Cats definitely respond to human stress. I had fun doing research on this topic for my recent article for Cat Fancy magazine. A study done at the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine found evidence that stress most definitely affects cats’ physical health. As you mentioned in your post, environmental stress most definitely affects cats’ behavior. And while there have been no studies on whether human stress affects cats’ health, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it does. This is a fascinating topic!

  • Fuzzy Tales

    We know all about stress in our house. Derry doesn’t respond well at all to the screaming tantrums the behaviourally-challenged children next door constantly have. Unfortunately there’s no sound-proofing between the units. (Our mom’s had a chat with the mom next door, btw.)

    So, nope, stress in general certainly isn’t good at all! Of course, boredom, too, is a stress. So it’s a matter of finding a good personal balance for us all!

  • Pam Kimmell

    Sam’s totally tuned into his surroundings and his humans as I guess most cats are, but add the feral-ness and the polydactyl-ness (!) and he’s a bundle of nerves most of the time. His Dad and I are totally different personalities too – I’m the laid back relaxed person (and Sam tends to follow me around more) and his Dad is “on edge” most of the time so Sam tends to stay away from him. Definitely picks up on our individual vibes. Which is FINE with me!!

    Pam (with Sam on my lap)

  • Kathryn

    How well I remember this chart. Used to follow it regularly. Times when things were very bad, yep — many high numbers. Numbers medium now; just job changes with fewer green things flying in. Means work smarter.

    Ched gets stressed when he can’t be with me at night. He whimpers.

    Speaking of whom… I have to find him.

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