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7 Ways to Spot If Your Cat Is Stressed

You may be completely unaware of it, but your cat may just be showing you how stressed and unhappy it is. Here are some simple ways to help you spot the signs and tips to help your pet cat enjoy life fully.

How to spot if a cat is stressed and unhappy

  1. Pay attention to what your cat is saying to you

Pet cats prefer to be riding solo rather than in a pack, so the range of their vocals is pretty limited, this is exactly why you need to be really focused on its mews and meows.

Animal behaviorist Inga MacKellar had this to say: ‘If your cat is lying on your knee and purring, it’s likely to be a sign of contentment, but some cats purr when they’re in pain or stressed. It’s a sign of self-soothing.’

Chatty and happy cats usually chirp as a greeting and meow to ask for something from their owner. A stressed  and unhappy cat will hiss and yowl, while an older cat that may be suffering from hyperthyroidism may be vocal throughout the night. Be sure to check with your vet in any case.

  1. Observe their body language

If they are lying on their side, with their stomach exposed, half-lidded eyes, and a relaxed tail it means that it’s a happy cat. Friendly cats will walk towards you with their tail straight up too.

However, if their tail is wagging that means they would rather be left alone. So next time that you’re playing with your cat and see their tail start to twitch it’s best to stop whatever you’re doing to avoid a potential scratch.

Ears and whiskers are pretty important as well. Flat ears can show fear and aggression, while whiskers that are flat against the face can suggest that your cat may be stressed and unhappy.

  1. Observe their coat and teeth.

A shiny coat can only mean a healthy cat. The coat of a stressed cat won’t look as good since they may not be eating or grooming themselves properly.

Matted fur or fur loss can mean a physical problem, like arthritis, for example, which can make grooming difficult, while stress can lead to overgrooming.

If your cat shows discomfort while eating, has bad breath, or is drooling, you should schedule a vet check-up for their gums and teeth.

  1. Knowing the signs of stress

If you notice that your cat is avoiding you or is generally skittish, it is recommended to keep a diary of their behavior and what is happening around them. If the stress is caused by visitors, the problem can be addressed by making sure that your cat has a nice and quiet spot away from people.

Stressed cats also exhibit certain marking behaviors by spreading their scent via excrements to help them feel more secure. To prevent this while making them feel secure, get some scratch posts and place them around the house. Stressed cats can put their scent on them and stop any other marking behavior.

‘Cats need safe hideouts to disappear into or shelves to jump up onto,’ behaviorist MacKellar suggests,’ Once they have this control, the stress lessens. It’s especially important for indoor cats who can’t escape outside.’

  1. Observe their eating habits

The optimal feeding pattern for cats is often and in smaller amounts, so you need to be aware of it, because if anything changes it can be a tell – tale sign of illness or anxiety so make sure to check with your vet if the need arises.

You can ultimately encourage happy mealtimes by placing your cat’s food bowl in a quieter place far away from their litter box and bed.

  1. Keep your cat entertained

Everyone knows that a bored cat is definitely not a happy one, and as hunters, they love the thrill that chasing prey gives them.

Indoor cats especially need to be stimulated in this case so that they don’t turn to attack your precious ankles! Since hunting for live prey is less than optimal, you can invest in some toys such as fishing rods or ping pong balls that they could chase. If your cat is strictly an indoor one, then you can use some food activity toys as well.

One suggestion is to make holes in a small plastic water bottle and fill it a quarter of the way up with dry food, close the lid and hang it from a doorway with string so your cat has to swipe and bat it to get the food out. Here are a few cat enrichment ideas to keep your cat happy.

  1. Study their sleeping patterns

Felines love to sleep, and they can spend up to 16 hours of the day doing just that. As a pet owner, you need to know the sleeping patterns of your cat, to learn what’s normal for them.

Younger cats that are generally more active tend to sleep more deeply, while on the other hand, older cats prefer to nap frequently. Watch out for excessive sleeping as it can be a sign of pain or a stressed cat, so if the sleeping pattern changes, consult with your vet.

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