Stress is one of the biggest causes of health issues in cats.
It can cause everything from urinary tract problems and allergies to excessive biting, scratching, marking and more.
But cats have mastered the art of hiding pain. So how do you know what triggers stress in your cat?
As a busy cat parent, you probably don’t have time to watch your cat all day for signs of anxiety. So, what can you do?
I’m going to keep it simple.
There are seven things you can try to bring the stress levels down in the shortest possible time. These may not cure chronic stress problems that require your vet’s support, but they’re inexpensive, take only a few minutes to put in place, and will keep the most common causes of cat stress in check.
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1. Pheromone Calming Collars
When the prescription Prozac stopped working—for the cat, not me—I finally tried the pheromone collars. According to the manufacturer, they release a continuous stream of relaxing pheromones just like a mama cat produces to calm her kittens.
I was nervous at first because they’re not breakaway collars.
Within an hour of collaring my cats, they chilled out on the sofa. And after hours of breaking up fights, cleaning up cat pee, and interrupting my Netflix binge session these collars are the closest I have come to the great secret of stress-relief.
2. Pheromone Calming Spray
In her book, “Think Like A Cat”, Pam Johnson-Bennett suggests that all animals are capable of experiencing stress. Cats can experience acute stress from boredom, interactions with other animals, and trips to the vet.
For on-the-spot stress-relief, a pheromone spray can help reduce fear and anxiety. It takes about 15 minutes to release the scent and lasts only about an hour but it’s an easy way to reduce situational cat stress.
3. Pheromone Diffusers
If there’s one take away at this point, it’s this: cats communicate with scent. So, even though you can’t soothe your cat with nurturing words you can comfort him with olfactory language.
Like the collars and the spray, diffusers for cats continuously release relaxing pheromones once you plug them into an electrical outlet. Each one covers an area of about 700 square feet. So, for a small apartment, it’s not a bad investment.
Another calming aid that appeals to your cat’s sense of smell is catnip and inhaling it triggers a relaxing response in their brain. In Colorado, we call it kitty pot.
My cats appreciate a regular dose of dried leaves on their cat tree where they stop, drop and roll. But what they really go crazy for is rubbing their face in the fresh catnip plant on our patio.
After about 5-10 minutes of euphoria, the cats are ready to relax. It’s a great way to ease into nap time or diffuse a multi-cat stare down.
5. Safe Spaces
Have you ever noticed how cats like to squeeze into cardboard boxes no matter how small the box?
That’s because cats naturally love snug hiding spaces for shelter and protection. And, researchers at Utrecht University observed that stress levels dropped significantly in cats that hang out in cardboard boxes.
So, next time your amazon order shows up, keep the box and line it with a blanket or old sweatshirt. It’s an economical way to keep your cat calm.
6. “Jazz” Music
You may have noticed your cat’s ears are very expressive. Like their sense of smell, cats have an acute sense of hearing. Turning forward, flat, backwards and sideways, cats use their ears to communicate, hunt, and keep their sense of balance.
So, another cost effective cat calming aid is music. And the best part is, you probably already have something in your collection that your cats will dig.
Having spent 17 years as a cat parent, I’ve observed that my cool cats chill out to jazz—Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and Charles Mingus top the charts for our trips to the vet. They love everything from the old school Kind of Blue to the modern hip-hop jazz fusion of The Doo Bop.
Scientists have even developed specialized musical compilations for cats. I tried playing them for my cat, Edgar, once and he left the room.
Nevertheless, finding the right music to soothe them can be fun and enjoyable for all. Just remember to keep it low because cats can hear much higher pitches than humans.
7. Routines and Rituals
Routines keep cats (& people) grounded, calm and in control. From playtime to mealtime, routines let your cat know what happens and when, so it boosts their confidence.
I used to let my cats roam the house at night when I slept until I adopted two part-Siamese. They are so vocal I couldn’t sleep with the meowing outside my bedroom door.
With a cozy cat bed in a quiet room away from distraction, I tuck them in at the same time every night. And, minimize the chance for outside agitation by drawing the blinds. The funny thing is, now if I stay up late, they’ll even put themselves to bed.
And the best part is you can enjoy a deep, restful sleep every night.
Recommended reading to tackle cat stress:Stop litter box stress with 3 easy tips
In a nutshell, creating a happy and stress-free environment is crucial to your cat’s health and well-being. Using cat calming aids are a quick way to boost your cat’s confidence and ease their anxiety. Not to mention it will minimize the impact of stress on your life too.
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