If your cat is acting stranger than usual and just can’t seem to calm down, it could be because they are experiencing stress. Just like in humans, cats can have stress that manifests itself in different behaviors and can result in the long-term loss of health and confidence.
But how do you know if your cat is stressed out and what you can do to help them be calm again?
I’m glad you asked.
What Causes Stress in Cats?
Stress in cats can be caused by a range of factors, including changes in routines, environments, and health.
- Routine Change: Cats thrive when they have a routine to follow. If that routine changes, it can be devastating to your cat. Try to keep your cat’s routine as solid as possible, and introduce any changes gradually.
- Shift in Environmental Energy: Whether you move to a new home, add a new member to the family, or simply are having a bad day yourself, cats will feel that energy shift and could become stressed out.
- Medical Problems: If your cat is starting to act stressed out, you need to take them to the vet ASAP, as it may be because of a serious medical problem. Your vet will be able to examine them and set you up with a treatment plan.
Signs Your Cat is Stressed Out
Keeping your cat healthy and happy is all about paying attention to their behaviors and reacting accordingly. As you interact with them, these signs could indicate that your cat is stressed out:
- Separation Anxiety: Excessive meowing or clinginess could mean that your cat is unsure and wants comfort from you.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: If your cat is too distracted to sleep regularly—or is sleeping more than normal—she could be stressed out.
- Different Eating Habits: Cats who have stress can refuse to eat or can beg for more food than ever before.
- Litter Box Avoidance: Peeing outside of the litter box can mean many things, and stress is one of them.
Tips for Calming Down a Cat
Help relieve your cat’s stress by getting them to calm down with these tips:
Get back in your routine.
The best thing you can do to help calm your cat is to get into a routine—and stick with it. Your cat will start to trust the routine, which should help her to become happier and less stressed.
Play with them.
Your cat may have a build up of energy that is causing them to not be able to calm down on their own. Cats have a raw instinct to hunt. If you aren’t exercising that side of them each day with interactive toys and playtime, they’ll become agitated. However, regular play can help level out their energy quickly.
Sometimes, cats will react well to your physical touch. If your cat is acting stressed out and won’t relax, try gently brushing them. Just be mindful, and if she reacts negatively, stop brushing and give them some space.
Give them a treat.
If your cat has a treat that they love more than anything else, try giving them one when they are first starting to act up. This treat could help get their mind off of whatever is stressing them out and help to calm them down.
Present them with a comforting item.
Similar to a favorite treat, your cat may have a favorite blanket, toy, or bed that brings them comfort. Try to direct your cat to it or present it to them yourself. Hopefully, this will give your cat a nice distraction from whatever is triggering them.
Use a holistic calming solution.
Some cats react incredibly well to pheromone diffusers or other holistic calming solutions. The second I spray Jackson Galaxy’s Stress Stopper in my house, the cats instantly start sniffing the air, and lay down for a long—usually much needed—nap.
Leave them alone.
Think about it. When you’re stressed out, you don’t always want other people around you. The same is true for your cat. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your cat is to let them be alone for a while. Give them a room to themselves or even a hidey hut bed where they can feel secure and like no one will bother them. After some time, your cat should be able to calm down on their own.
How to Keep Your Cat Calm
Once your cat has calmed down, you can help keep them calm by remembering a few best practices:
- Stick to a Routine: I hope it’s clear by now that the best way to get a cat to calm down is to give them a routine. Once you’ve found a routine that works, stick to it! Your cat will be much happier—and so will you.
- Play with Them Multiple Times a Day: It’s not enough to bat a ball back and forth a couple of times, then call it quits. You need to play with your cat multiple times each day, preferably before every meal. This will keep your cat calm while promoting their physical health.
- Be Calm Yourself: Cats feed off of the energy around them. If we’re stressed out, they’ll feel that and mirror it back to us. Try to be as serene around your cat as possible, and always keep your voice, actions, and energy level. Your calmness will encourage theirs.
How do you help your cat calm down? Let me know in the comments below!
I know a lot about cats, but I’m not a veterinarian. Please don’t take any of the statements I give as medical advice and do always consult your trusted vet, especially if your cat is experiencing behavioral challenges.