Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Stresses in a cat's life can come from the environment around her, her physical body, or be caused by feline emotions such as fear.Environmental Stress
Stressors in a cat's environment would include:
Moving into a new house or apartment
Too many animals in the household
Lack of fresh air and/or sunshine, especially if the cat was used to going outside
Change in daily routinePhysical Stress
Stressors that may directly affect a cat's physical health include:
Fleas, worms, or other parasites Emotional Stress
Cats may experience emotional stressors such as:
Boredom and loneliness
Death of human or animal family member
Other changes in the number of human or animal family members
Common indications of stress
Cats will show their anxiety in a number of different ways. These can include grooming themselves excessively or not grooming at all, refusing to eat, aggression, chewing inedible objects like cloth, and not using the litter box.
The solution you choose depends a lot on the cause of the anxiety.
First, try to determine the cause of the anxiety and if possible, eliminate it. Of course some stresses will 'go away' on their own as the cat gets used to them - for instance, there is not much you can do about a new family member or a separation.
Have your cat examined by your veterinarian to look for any signs of illness. Discuss treatment of stressors such as obesity and parasites.
If your cat is experiencing rivalry or jealously toward another pet, separate the pets temporarily, feeding and paying attention to them at different times. Introductions should be gradual, and may take several weeks to months.
If inappropriate elimination is one of the ways your cat shows tension, add another litter box to the house, and experiment with different types of litter. And remember that one more litter box than the number of cats in the household is the general rule.
If you have an 'only cat' and are not in a position (or do not have the desire) for another one, make sure your kitty has plenty of toys to keep her entertained. Also, be sure to pay enough attention and play with her. You might also want to keep a radio or TV on when you are away.
No matter how many cats you have, if they are inside, be sure to have places where they can see what is going on outside or even sleep in a sunbeam. A window perch near or attached to a windowsill is a perfect choice.
For more information: http://www.fabcats.org/behaviour/stressed/info.html