a cat sitting happily

YES!

What does your COVID-19 self-quarantine have to do with cat stress? Well, you may be surprised to learn that our daily habits and our own stress can have a huge impact on our cat’s mental and physical health. After all, our animals are sensitive creatures that we share strong bonds with. 

It’s a really stressful time for many of us right now and it’s causing our cats to stress too!

Self-quarantine and isolation are important for our public health and we can’t change that. But what we can do is try to look at how our current events are creating extra stress in our cats.  By doing this we can prevent our cats from getting sick due to chronic stress.

Most cats live pretty healthy and happy lives but often pet parents aren’t familiar with signs that their cat might be stressed. The good news is that when life gets hard, cats will warn us when they aren’t happy. So if you’re not sure if your cat is or isn’t stressed right now then this blog is for you.

So let’s cover the most common signs our cats will show us when they are stressed. We’ll also cover how you can help them find peace naturally.

What are the signs of stress in a cat??

Chances are if you’ve lived with your cat long enough, you’ve picked up on their many daily habits. Knowing these habits is really helpful because unlike dogs, who often show us their stress by …

  • Panting
  • Barking
  • Whining
  • Acting restless
  • Obsessive licking and chewing

 … Your cat will start by changing some small daily habits when they are stressed. You’ll want to watch to see if your cat is…

  • Hiding away in odd places in the home
  • Not eating or drinking as much or drinking and eating more than normal
  • Shedding more than normal
  • Meowing/yowling while wandering around the house
  • Urinating or defecating more often
  • No longer using their litterbox
  • Not wanting to be near other pets or fighting with those that they are usually friends with

The best way to help your cat feel more at peace sooner is to catch these early signs fast. I highly recommend having a bottle of CBD oil for cats on hand for this reason.

If your cat is already a little anti-social, this may be more of a challenge. But I do encourage you to pay attention to your cat’s daily habits and routines to find their ‘normal’.

If you start to pick up on the behaviors above, there’s a good chance your cat is already stressed … and not just ‘being a difficult anti-social cat’.

So now let’s look at the common things that may be triggering your cat’s anxiety and stress. Some may even surprise you.

Common CAUSES OF CAT Stress AND ANXIETY

The great thing about cats being creatures of habit is that when their habits change it alerts us to stress. But that same nature is one of the reasons cats can be more susceptible to stress than pet parents realize.

For today I want to focus on the top stressors for our cats that are relative to our current COVID 19 lives.

#1 Routine

Consistency in routines is very important to your cat. So when life changes suddenly like,

  • Everyone now working from
  • Higher risk family members coming to stay for care
  • The kids being home more than normal

… That matters to your cat.

It may seem odd to you because technically you’re able to give them more attention but to your cat, it’s a big change. They will also stress if their daily care changes because a family member became ill.

How To Reduce Stress Caused By Routine Changes

Now I know we can’t always keep life on a consistent schedule for our cats but you can help relax them when life changes.

When you know ahead of time that you will be changing a routine habit for your cat such as …

  • Mealtimes
  • Work schedules
  • Traveling or needing a cat sitter

… You can help your cat by making changes to these routines slowly

What’s also great, is that if someone else needs to care for your cat, they can continue the CBD oil until you return.

#2 Lifestyle 

I’m sure many of us think that our cats live a pretty great lifestyle and most do. The trouble is that we’ve asked our cats to live a different lifestyle than nature once intended. 

Many cats live indoors only and although this can be the safest option for them, it does add stress. A cat who’s able to be outside is able to:

  • Roam and have their own territory
  • Hunt and eat various prey
  • Avoid animals, people, and situations as needed
  • Choose where they urinate and defecate

Cat’s who live inside can still have a ‘territory’, but some have to share that space … and that space may not always be that big. 

Indoor cats are also often on a consistent meal feeding plan and don’t hunt their meals. We also choose where our cat’s litterboxes are in the home. And all these changes to their natural habits add daily stress, even if it’s not obvious to us.

How To Reduce Lifestyle stress

If your cat is living a mostly indoor life you can do the following to help reduce stress:

  • Give them a low dose of CBD oil daily to reduce anxiety caused by smaller living space.
  • Ensure they have their own personal space somewhere in the home away from other pets or people.
  • Provide lots of enrichment through various toys, cat trees, and perches. And check out the website Indoor Pet Initiative for tips on adding enrichment. 
  • Have at least two litterboxes per cat. Experiment with where they are in the home to see if your cat has a preference.*PRO TIP* Some cats won’t use a litterbox that’s near a furnace or other appliances that make loud noises. Some will also choose to use one box for urinating and one for defecating … and sometimes only if in different rooms. 

 Having to share space is one of the biggest challenges for indoor cats which leads us to our final big stressor.

Keeping your cat calm with infographic

#3 Social Interactions

 

Cats are pretty happy solo beings. Don’t get me wrong, I know many cats who have a best friend and enjoy some snuggle times. But for the most part, many are happy to live independent lives.

Often we’ll hear that a cat’s showing signs of stress and the owner feels the cat’s life is the same. And often their environment and resources are the same … but there may be a new pet or person in their lives.

And sometimes it’s not even a new person, it might be that you or your family members are around more now. To your cat, this can make their normally quiet day, busy and noisy. 

How To Reduce Social Stress In Your Cat 

If you know there’s going to be an increase in social activity in your home, you can use a calming CBD oil ahead of time. If life’s changed quickly, you can give a dose of CBD oil when you see them stress and then allow your cat a place to hide away to relax. 

Just remember that if you have multiple pets who are stressed at once, make sure they each have a quiet place to hide and not fight.

CAT STRESS AND DISEASE

Keeping your cat stress free not only makes them happier it will also make them live longer. Stress is a huge contributing factor to a number of diseases in all animals. And when it comes to our cats the top two diseases we see due to stress are:

  • IBD
  • Idiopathic cystitis

Stress causes strain on the immune system and can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. When the body’s natural defenses are down and inflammation is high, disease sneaks in. 

I want to review these two diseases in more detail with you because it can literally save your cat’s life. The reason I say this is because cats with these two issues are often …

  • Labeled as having behavioral issues
  • More likely to be aggressive or angry with people or pets
  • Surrendered to shelters or put to sleep for not using their litterboxes.

… All because their symptoms and signs of stress are misunderstood. So knowing more and being able to stop your cat’s stress fast is really important. 

Ibd and your cat’S stress

Cat’s can develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) just like we can. The first sign your cat may be suffering is if they’re pooping outside of their litterbox and or vomiting. 

If your cat is vomiting it means that not only are in intestines really inflamed, so is their stomach. This is not only painful, but they’re also not able to digest foods well and are at risk of developing pancreatitis … which is even more painful. 

In cats, there are a few contributing factors for IBD including:

  • Chronic or new stress that causes a bacterial imbalance in the gut
  • Diet deficiencies or diet ingredients that are cause allergy-like reactions
  • Intestinal parasites

 Reducing Stress To Support Your IBD Cat Naturally 

If your cat has been diagnosed with IBD,  there are three steps you can do at home to get them feeling better fast:

If symptoms are severe, your holistic vet may even recommend a fecal transplant. This will really help reboot your cat’s gut health and microbiome. 

Cat stress and bladder health

Idiopathic cystitis is a common disease seen in stressed cats. Idiopathic is a term used for diseases that come on quickly and the exact cause is not known. Cystitis means inflammation of the bladder.

There are also a few other names you may hear for this disease including:

  • FLUTD- Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Pandora Syndrome
  • FUS- Feline Urologic Syndrome

Most cats will let you know by peeing outside of their litterbox but some will still use their box. So you need to keep an eye out for your cat …

  • Straining to urinate or making many trips to the litterbox without being able to pee
  • Urinating small amounts often
  • Crying while peeing
  • Having any blood in their urine
  • Excessively grooming their genital area

In people and dogs, the most common cause of cystitis is a bacterial infection. But in our cat’s stress is thought to be the number one cause along with:

  • Secondary bacterial infection
  • Inappropriate diet
  • Other health issues like diabetes, thyroid disease or cancer
  • Trauma to the bladder or spine

If you suspect your cat may have cystitis call your holistic vet as soon as possible! There are ways you can support them at home, but you need to make sure they don’t have an infection or blockage first as it can be life-threatening.

Male cats are especially at risk. This is because inflammation and bacteria can cause crystals to form in the urine. These tiny crystals can then bind together and cause a blockage and your cat won’t be able to pee at all.

How to SUpport and prevent cystitis at home

Once you know your cat isn’t at risk of a urinary blockage there are a few things you can do at home to help  including:

  • Using CBD oil to reduce stress, pain, and inflammation and maintain bladder function.
  • Feed fresh moist foods to keep your cat well hydrated to flush out the bladder
  • Encourage drinking by having various water bowls or pet fountains available
  • Feed pre and probiotics to support a strong immune system

Finding Purrfect Peace

I hope that you now have a bit of a better understanding of cat stress and how to prevent it. And that you have the tools to help your cat find peace and live a longer happier life! I also suggest you check out our FB live with the TWO CRAZY CAT LADIES where we chat about all the great benefits of CBD for cats!

 

ABOUT ANGELA ARDOLINO

Angela Ardolino is passionate about animals and has dedicated her life to providing all-natural relief to pets of all ages and breeds. Ardolino has worked with animals for over 20 years and operates Fire Flake Farm, a rescue farm in Lutz, FL. A medical cannabis expert, Ardolino holds a degree in the therapeutic uses of cannabis from the University of Vermont School of Medicine and is the founder of CBD Dog Health. Combining her background in broadcast journalism and her passion for pets, Ardolino is the host of a pet-centric podcast, “It’s a Dog’s Life” on Cannabis Radio. Additionally, she is the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and spa. Ardolino has five dogs and up to 10 residing on her farm who she is fostering or boarding. Visit www.AngelaArdolino.com and www.CBDDogHealth.com to learn more.