No one likes to lose control. It’s a sign of weakness, of not being up to the task. Cats, like us, like to be in control. I read a story of someone who changed their cat’s collar and the cat was running away, hiding, panicking like crazy because the new collar had a lower sounding bell than the one the cat was used to. A colleague used to give his cat wet food once in a few weeks as a treat and was surprised that the cat threw up every time. One of the most stressful events for a cat is being relocated to new house. Imagine you would wake up one day in a completely new place, without knowing how/why you got there.
Cats are creatures of habit and hate it when there is any change in their environment: litter, food, collar, temporary or permanent guests (human/animal), disappearance of a family member, new furniture, or new house. Cats are happiest when they have the same schedule every day and their environment is constant.
What can you do to reduce cat stress?
- Minimize environmental changes or do them step by step: if you want to change their food or litter type, you need to do it over 2 weeks: start with 1/4 of the new type and 3/4 of the old one, then half/half, then 3/4 of new and 1/4 of old. Otherwise, it may upset their tummy or they might stop using the litter tray (and cleaning cat puke/pee is not fun at all).
- Offer your cat a safe place: can be an empty room in the house, or a corner. Fill it with their things: sleeping basket, toys, scratching post… When things go crazy in the house, your cat can always hide in their retreat.
- Put the cat on a schedule: ensuring your cat’s day follows a constant routine of play, eat, sleep every day will make them happy & zen.
- Use pheromones sprays: cats mark their territory (as safe) with pheromones by touching things with their nose. When you change houses or bring new furniture, they miss the safe marks and may become frightened. Using a fake pheromone spray (e.g. Feliway) will help.
- Make sure they get exposed to change often enough when they are a kitten: a huge part of a cat’s personality is shaped when they are young. Exposing them to different people, other animals, weekends away at friends’ place will ensure a happier, stress free life later.
See you next time. Have a good week!