Facing long lines at the grocery store, the roundabout or the movies, you think your life is stressful? Well, what about your cat? Cats are exposed to a variety of stressors, which may have a bad effect on their welfare. Common stressors include environmental changes, inner-cat conflict, poor human–cat relationships and lack of control and predictability.
Reaction to stress can be genetically related. Kittens with friendly parents are friendlier towards humans. Persian and Siamese cats are more playful, curious and friendly, while Bengal cats score highest in owner aggression. Orange cats are more aggressive while darker cats are more sociable.
Stress can reduce food intake, which may lead to serious liver changes. Stress can increase chances of urine marking and aggression. A number of compulsive disorders, such as over-grooming, may develop as a consequence of stressful environments. Stress can suppress immune function and increase chances of new infections or reactivate old ones. And let’s not forget about stress related vomiting and diarrhea.
Ways to reduce stress in your cat’s life include:
- Provide safe areas where your cat feels comfortable, such as shelves, cat trees and platforms.
- Use appropriate techniques when introducing new cats into the household.
- Cats like to hunt, so give them the opportunity by providing puzzle feeders and hiding food in different places.
- Small toys they can hunt are particularly useful and should be changed at regular intervals to keep the cat’s interest.
- Enrich your cat’s environment and you’ll have a happy cat.