Just like us, animals suffer from stress. In fact, stress can often be a significant contributing factor to many different behavioural and health issues - or a sign of them. Your cat can become stressed due to several external factors such as moving to a new house, new family members (a new baby or another pet), excessive noise or territory issues.
Cats are by nature quieter creatures than dogs so it might be a little trickier to spot when you cat is feeling stressed so knowing the signs will help you detect any problems.
Grooming and scratching excessively
A stressed cat will groom more frequently than usual. This frenzied grooming and scratching when related to stress, can often result in bald patches, and even bleeding. If you see this, then you need to take your cat to the vet right away. They will check for a parasitic invasion and if there is no other sign of one, the problem is likely to be stress.
Urinating outside the litter box
Cats are clean and conscientious creatures, they are private about their toilet habits as well so if they start weeing outside of the litter box they are letting you know they are not happy.
A sign of stress is very often tummy trouble (vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation), which can be the case with humans too. Even if you doubt the problem is stress in this case, you should still take your cat to the vet so they can get the once over.
Cats are secretive and aloof by nature anyway but hiding due to stress is a different kind of aloofness – this is when they are so stressed that they actively flee you and the family and remain isolated from their humans. This isn’t normal behaviour so it is advisable to take them to visit the vet.
If your cat starts getting into fights and becomes aggressive towards other animals or even you and your family, then it’s time to get them seen by a veterinary behaviourist. Aggression can often be a sign that your cat is stressed or sick.
They eat less, sleep more
A decrease in appetite is often a sign of trouble in so many cases in most animals (and humans) so it’s one to watch out for. If coupled with no interest in food, they become lethargic and sleep a lot more (than their average 15-20 hours a day).
If your cat is showing any or many of these signs and just isn’t their usual affectionate or playful selves, it’s better to take them to the vet so underlying health problems can first be ruled out and their behaviour can be properly assessed and treated.