Skip to Content

How to Help A Stressed Cat

A stressed out cat is a challenge for everyone in the house.

Not only can excess stress make our cat’s life more challenging, but it can also impact their health over time. So how can you help the stressed out feline in your life?

In this article we’ll dive into the details behind stress in cats, and help you understand how to offer them the relief they deserve!

How to Help Stressed Cats

person trying to pet a hissing stressed cat

What Causes Stress in Cats?

Cats are sensitive creatures, meaning changes within their life and their surroundings can cause them great stress. Though our cats may have different triggers than you and I would, their anxiety and struggles are just as real.

Some of the most common causes of stress in cats include:

  • Moving into a new home
  • New people in the home
  • Bringing new pets into the home
  • Loud noises such as parties, fireworks, etc.
  • Disappearance of important people in their lives
  • Being left alone too often
  • Animals outside the window
  • Trips to the vet
  • Illness or new medications
  • Injuries
  • Any other changes in their environment or daily routine

How can you tell if a cat is stressed out?

Since our cats can’t tell us how they feel, it’s up to us to understand their behavior and offer help when they need it. Though every cat is different, there are a few common signs of stress in cats to look for. 

  • Hiding away and avoiding other people or animals
  • Inappropriate urination, peeing outside of the box or around your home
  • Increased aggression toward people or animals in your home
  • Loss of appetite or refusing to come near their bowl
  • Overgrooming or increase in their normal grooming behavior
  • Increased vocalizing or howling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinating near windows where outside animals may be
  • Any other changes in their normal behavior

If your cat is displaying any of the above behaviors, it’s possible that they are struggling with a new stressor in their life. 

Signs Of A Traumatized Cat

Not only can our cats experience stress, but they can also become traumatized from traumatic experiences or chronic stress that is never resolved.

A traumatized cat is at risk of general discomfort in their surroundings, as well as dangerous impact to their overall health. 

Just like humans, our cats can live through terrifying experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Whether a cat had a run in with an aggressive dog or experienced extreme fear from loud noises in your home; each cat can be impacted in a different way. These experiences can shape their behavior going forward, and they may need additional help to work through it. 

stressed cat in garden meeting new dog

Traumatized cat symptoms tend to have a few differences than general stress in cats, so let’s dive into the signs to look for. 

  • Aggression such as hissing, swiping, biting, and more
  • Hiding or only spending time in one area of the home
  • Refusal to eat
  • Fear around the cause of their trauma such as dogs, humans, other cats, etc.
  • Refusal to be touched
  • Constant cowering when they move around your home
  • Any other drastic shift in their behavior

If your cat has just gone through a traumatizing experience and is displaying any of the symptoms above, you may need to speak with your vet about your plan going forward. The methods we will discuss in this article can still be helpful, but they may need the support of medical intervention as well. 

How do you calm a stressed or anxious cat?

If you have a stressed or anxious cat, you’re probably on the hunt for some tips for cat stress relief. Since most of our cats live in our home with us. Many of the solutions will involve making changes around your home and within your life. So how can you help your nervous cat? Let’s dive into some successful options below!

  • Offer them extra vertical space. Since our cats tend to hide away from others when they are experiencing stress, it’s important to give them their own sanctuary while still being present in your routine. Cat trees and cat friendly shelves are a wonderful way to prove a safe area for your cat, all while giving them the option to still observe their environment. 
  • Make sure their litter box is in an area of comfort. For example, finding a quiet and stress free area for Some good litter box spots include in a quiet bathroom, in a closet, in the corner of a room, behind a piece of furniture, and more. 
  • Try to promote as much daily playtime as possible. Exercise not only helps your cat relieve excess stress, but it also helps to create a bond between the two of you. Toys can help to get them active and moving, as well as providing mental stimulation when they are feeling on edge. 
  • Try your best to either limit creatures that frequent the area around your home, or block off areas that your cat may see other animals that cause them stress. For example, if your cat sits in a window that a stray cat loves to frequent, you can try putting decorations in the window that block your cat’s access. Just be sure to offer them a replacement perch option such as a cat tree, another window to view the outdoors, or even a cat friendly shelf. 
  • Try to promote positivity with their point of stress. For example, if your cat is stressed about a new person living in their home, have them be the one to offer them their daily treats. Finding a way to build positive experiences around their point of stress can help them come to terms with the change. 

Solving Common Sources Of Cat Stress

There are a few common activities and changes that are known to bring stress to our feline companions. Since these are such common questions among cat owners, let’s dive into some positive solutions for these common cat stressors. 

scared stressed cat hiding in red litter box

How to calm a stressed cat after moving?

Moving to a new location is one of the most common causes of stress in cats.

Since a new home can bring so many new sights and smells, this can be overwhelming for your beloved cat. In order to make your move easier for your cat, let’s discuss some helpful tips to calm a stressed cat after moving. 

  • First, be sure to keep your cat safe during the move. If you will have movers coming and going, be sure to keep them in a safe and contained area that they cannot escape from. 
  • Bring our moving boxes into your home a few days before you start packing. This can help your cat get used to the presence of boxes before you start moving items around your home. 
  • Once you get to your new home, try to set up a safe zone for them. You can do this by picking one room in the house and filling it with their favorite things (cat trees, cat bed, toys, etc). Your cat may be nervous about roaming freely in a new environment, so having a safe zone can be comforting. Keeping your cat in this safe zone for the first few days will help them adjust. Once they become more confident, you can open access to the rest of the house. 
  • Try to spend as much time as possible with your cat. This can help them realize that even if they are in a new home, they still have you there for support. 
  • Be sure that your cat knows where all the litter boxes are in your new home. This will help to eliminate accidents around your home.

How to calm a stressed cat going to the vet?

Going to the vet can be a stressful experience for any cat. Not only is the vet a scary place for a nervous cat, but the car ride is as well. To help you comfort your cat during their next vet visit, let’s dive into some stress relieving tips!

  • Help your cat get used to their pet carrier before the actual vet trip. You can do this by bringing it into a public area in your home, putting treats in their carrier for them to grab, feeding them in their carrier, and more!
  • If the car ride is especially stressful for your cat, try to get them used to the process. You can do this by taking them for short rides as often as you can. By taking them on frequent rides around the town, the car ride won’t be as taboo. 
  • Look for a fear free animal clinic in your area. These clinics are dedicated to being mindful of fear in cats, as well as making the experience as stress free as possible. 

How to calm a stressed cat after getting a new pet?

Cats can experience severe stress when bringing a new animal into their home. Cats are protective of their territory, and a new animal can make them feel threatened. In order to help your cat adjust to the presence of a new furry friend, let’s discuss a few helpful tips. 

  • Make sure your cat has access to an area free of the new pet at all times. This can be a cat tree, a room of their own, a cat shelf, or any other option that allows them to hide away when they’ve had enough. 
  • Be prepared to monitor each interaction for the first few weeks. Your presence can help your cat feel safer, and allow you to intervene at any time. 
  • Do not introduce them by putting them into a room together for the first time. Always allow them to get to know each other from a distance. This can mean introducing them through a door, blocking them with a pet gate, and any other method that offers a barrier. 
  • Slowly introduce face to face meetings once your cat seems to be more comfortable with the new pet’s presence through a door or gate. 
  • If your cat ever feels overwhelmed with the new pet’s presence, separate them. Never try to force their meeting or interaction if they become too stressed. 

Stress Reducing Products For Cats

Aside from making changes within your home, there are a few stress reducing products that we trust. There are multiple options for cat anxiety solutions on the market, so to help you weigh through the options, let’s introduce you to the products that we find to be the most helpful. 

  • Feliway diffusers: Feliway diffusers are a vet recommended product that is known to  release calming pheromones and reduce stress in cats. These diffusers are so effective that you will often find these diffusers in your vet’s office. 
  • Feliway spray: This spray has the power of the feliway diffuser, in a portable spray form. This spray can be applied to your couch to reduce scratching, in a spot that your cat has accidents, and even in their crate before they go to the vet. 
  • Sentry Calming Collar: This calming cat collar is one of the only cat collars that is scientifically proven to relieve stress in cats. Each collar releases pheromones for 30 days, and helps to reduce unwanted behavior and symptoms of anxiety.

Stress in cats is a serious condition that should never be ignored.

Be sure to use the tips we mentioned above for reducing cat stress, and you can bring comfort to your nervous cat’s life!

Share this guide to Pinterest!