Did you know that cats experience stress, just like people do? Excess stress can be a problem for your cat in a variety of ways. Symptoms of stress in cats include being over-hyper or over-tired, pulling out hair, a change in eating patterns, urinating or defecating out of the litter box, yowling, and more.
The good news is that you can do a few simple things to reduce the stress your cat experiences. That will make both of you feel better. Here are a few tips for eliminating stress with your kitties.
Tip 1: Take care of the basics
The easiest thing you can do to reduce your cat’s stress is to make sure the basics are taken care of. It sounds simple, but making sure your cat has adequate food and water and a clean litter box will go a long ways.
There are several different feeding strategies you can use, and you may want to experiment to figure out what works best for your cat. If your cat is currently fed once a day, try splitting the meal to a morning and an evening meal. Alternatively, you might try feeding once a day, but switch to the evening instead of the morning (or vice versa). For many cats, an evening feeding helps calm them before you go to bed, so that can have an added benefit for you too. One strategy to avoid is to continuously feed your cats – leaving a food dish out all day isn’t healthy for your cats as they will often overeat and become obese.
Your litter box placement and litter selection is also something to consider. Generally, you need at least one litter box per cat. If you have more than one floor in your home, consider putting a litter box on each floor, with at least one per cat. Make sure to choose a simple litter box without gadgets like doors or sweeping mechanisms that can scare your cat, and make sure you clean it daily. Also, consider using a natural cat litter to help encourage your cat to use the litter box, and keep her healthy too.
Tip 2: Don’t forget playtime
All cats – even older cats – like time to play. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to play with your cats will work wonders to help de-stress them. Playtime stimulates your cat’s mind and provides them with exercise that they otherwise wouldn’t get.
There are lots of toys on the market to choose from, and you should have a variety. Laser pointers are a great, inexpensive toy that most cats love, although you should be careful not to point the laser at your cat’s eyes. Most cats also like catnip toys, especially catnip mouse toys. Some indoor cats will even treat mouse toys like a real mouse, delivering you a “present”!
You can also make your own cat toys from things around your house and found objects. Cats love empty cardboard boxes, so next time you get a box your cat might be able to fit in, give it to them to play with. Tying a piece of yarn around a stick is another great idea. If you’re handy and have the materials, you can make your cats a scratching post or cat condo too using some lumber and old carpet.
Tip 3: Make sure your cat has company
Even though cats can seem like solitary creatures, most of them love company, especially when that company is you. Cats whose owners aren’t home very often are often stressed out from simply being alone all day. If you only have one cat and are gone often, think about getting a second cat (or a dog!) to keep each other company. Obviously the cats need to get along and it may take some time for that to happen, but putting in the effort to find your cat a feline friend is well worth it.
If you travel for a living, you’re probably used to either leaving extra food and water out for your cats, or boarding them if you’re gone longer. Instead, consider a pet sitter. Pet sitters are usually inexpensive and will come to your home to feed and play with your cats while you’re gone. You don’t need to worry about driving your cats to the boarding facility, and your cats are usually less stressed.
Tip 4: Try a pheromone diffuser
If you’ve tried the other tips and your cats still have stress issues, consider a pheromone diffuser. Pheromone diffusers plug into a wall socket and emit a natural scent that calms your cats. You won’t be able to smell the scent, but your cats will feel more comfortable. If you decide to try a diffuser, make sure to read the instructions and get enough diffusers to cover the areas your cats spend the most time. Pheromone diffusers can really make a big difference for stressed-out cats.
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