The signs of stress in cats can be difficult to recognize. However, stress is very detrimental to feline health and can lead to serious problems that can cause long-term sequelae and death.
SIGNS OF STRESS IN CATS: WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is a defense mechanism that exists in many species. In felines, stress is a normal and natural mechanism in which various physiological systems of the animal’s body intervene to defend it, eliciting a response – fight or flight response.
Stress is part of the animal and must exist as a form of protection in its wildlife. However, stress becomes a problem for cats when the situation that triggers the fight / flight response remains, and stress becomes chronic.
Since the nervous system controls various physiological systems, stress will trigger physical responses, which in the long run may be harmful to the animal, leading to the onset of physical and behavioral diseases.
19 SIGNS OF STRESS IN CATS
“Panting” is a well-known behavior in the canine world, however, panting is one of the signs of stress in cats. Felines in stressful situations can start breathing in a fast, panting, open-mouthed way. If your cat has been stressed and has had this type of breathing, it is best to calm down, as it may happen that your cat may have difficulty breathing.
Fast, open-mouthed “panting” may also occur in some illnesses, especially respiratory illness or pain. However, these are situations, as a rule, that do not improve when the cat calms down. However, if you notice severe breathing difficulties you should consult your veterinarian to see if this is or may be an urgent situation.
As a rule, it is associated with the fact that when cats get quieter and still they are quiet. However, in fact, the exact opposite happens. Under stress, cats tend to respond in a defensive way, and in this case, staying still is a defense strategy they use in the wild when they are attacked so that their predators cannot find them.
Thus, at times of great stress, such as going to the vet, your cat can have a seemingly calm attitude and allow all procedures to be performed. But in fact, the cat is in a panic.
3. WAG THE TAIL
The tail wagging of dogs is taken as a sign that the dog is friendly, which is not always true. But a wagging tail is usually one of the signs of stress in cats.
4. DILATED PUPILS
Dilated pupils are one of the signs of stress in cats that comes with sudden threats and acute stress. When faced with an imminent threat or danger, felines often appear to have black eyes as their pupils become very dilated.
5. EARS DOWN
When in danger, cats put their ears close to their heads while assessing the situation.
Vocalizations can be a sign of chronic or acute stress. Stressed cats vocalize, meow loudly, growl, and make other kinds of sounds. In situations of chronic stress it is also common for cats to spend some time vocalizing for no apparent reason.
7. URINATION OR DEFECATION IN INAPPROPRIATE PLACES
Cats are extremely clean animals, and instinctively make their needs in the litter box from a young age, without being taught. When cats urinate or defecate outside the box is an alarm signal and should be taken into consideration by the guardians.
This behavior is one of the most common signs of stress in cats, however, it can also be a sign of illness or simply that the cat doesn’t like the litter, the box, or other detail that makes them no longer like to go there. make needs.
As a rule, a cat exposed to a threat has an escape response. However, if the cat is in a position where there is no escape possible or apparently no escape, it may decide to attack.
Aggressiveness arises in the cat in response to acute stress as a last resort, and any cat avoids conflict and prefers escape.
In cases of chronic stress, aggression may arise as a behavioral problem where the cat may directly attack the stress stimulus or indirect aggression may arise where the cat redirects the attack to something other than a person or animal. the provocative stimulus.
When a cat isolates itself most of the time, something goes wrong. It may be a sign of illness or stress, however it deserves attention and should be evaluated.
10. INCREASED OR DECREASED APPETITE
Chronic stressed cats may stop eating, which can lead to serious health problems, including liver problems. The opposite can also happen, and the feline begins to eat compulsively.
11. SPEND MORE TIME “SLEEPING”
A stressed cat may spend more time lying, apparently sleeping, leading the guardian to think that the feline is sleeping longer than usual. This is a behavior that cats adopt to become vigilant, in which they “pretend to be sleeping, yet are mindful of those around them.
12. INHIBITION OF HYGIENE
The cats are clean and hygienic, doing their own hygiene under normal conditions, from small, licking to remove dirt and debris from the fur. When a cat looks bad and dirty, it is most likely not doing its grooming, which is a sign of stress, pain or illness.
13. STARTLE RESPONSE
The startle response is one of the signs of stress in cats and occurs when cats are sleeping or resting, and they respond excessively to a stimulus. This is because the cat is suspicious and does not sleep soundly, reacting to any stimulus as a possible threat.
14. CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE
A stressed cat is constantly watching the environment around him, though often this goes unnoticed by his guardians. Felines usually place themselves in strategic places, preferably high, to make their lookout.
15. LICKING YOURSELF EXCESSIVELY
Excessive licking can be a compulsive behavior that is considered one of the signs of stress in cats. Since the cat’s tongue is rough, when a cat licks itself too much it may end up pulling out fur and showing flaws, or places with the appearance of being cut.
16. AMBIVALENT BEHAVIOR
Ambivalent behavior is characterized by contradictory attitudes at the same time, which may indicate an inconstancy and stress in the cat.
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, but scratching too much, and it is not your cat’s habit to do so can be one of the signs of stress in cats.
18. OUT OF CONTEXT BEHAVIORS
Out of context or out of context behaviors are behaviors that cats demonstrate in a situation where that behavior is not considered normal or usual in that context. For example, in the middle of a confrontation with another cat, instead of running away or attacking, licking or scratching may result.
19. STOP URINATING OR DEFECATING
In stressful situations, felines may be deprived of urination or defecation for a long time, which can lead to health problems.
All these behaviors are of concern as they may be causes of stress or even illness, and deserve attention from the medical point of view, and it is advisable to consult the animal by the veterinarian. If you don’t know it yet, know that the partners that make up the Vetecare network are available nationwide and will have no hands to measure to put the animal’s welfare and comfort first. Learn more .