Newsday Tuesday – Stress Release for Cats

Sometimes our cats get stressed—a stranger comes to visit, they’re taken to the vet against their will, a noisy truck rumbles past the house, an alarm sounds, another cat walks through the yard or someone they know and trust leaves the house (to go to college, perhaps). Some cats are just naturally edgy and some of those may adopt bad behavior—such as urinating outside the litter box. Oh my! That’s a topic for another day. Today, we’re talking about reaction-stress—to a change or something unfamiliar or irritating, such as the sound of fireworks going off or a barking dog moves in next door. Yeah, that upsets my stress level, too.

Sophie showed signs of stress after we evacuated her during a fire a few years ago. She began licking a spot on her side until she was nearly bald. There are others ways a cat might demonstrate that he or she is stressed and some we don’t readily recognize as stress-related.

There are a lot of things on the market to help alleviate stress in cats, from pheromone sprays, to thundershirts, relaxation chews to calming collars. There are videos for excitable cats to watch showing fish, birds and other animals along with calming music. Last night our TV crashed and we had to reboot it (or whatever process that’s called when you unplug and turn it back on again. Anyway, Olivia had been sleeping, but when the screen started showing words and moving lines of green and all, she became fascinated. She watched it with great interest until regular programming came back on.

We can put a lot of thought into paving the way for cats when we we’re expecting an event that might stress the cat—you’re planning a trip, for example, and either taking the cat someplace or leaving her behind for a period of time. A close neighbor is traveling cross country soon with her cats to a new home, and she has put just about as much thought and planning into how to keep the cats happy for the 3 day journey and the transition to a new home as she has in preparing things for the family. She has researched how to comfortably transport the two cats and a dog in her small sedan. She has plotted how to safely move them each night from the car to the hotel room and she’s considered how to handle their basic needs along the way without one of them escaping—such as eating and using the litter box. She believes she has all of her ducks in a row with regard to her cats and she’s ready to launch out on her new life with her beloved pets. Crossing fingers and paws at this end.

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