Recognizing Signs of Stress & Fear in Your Cat

Stressed out cats are more likely to struggle and become aggressive.  Aggressive cats (9 times out of 10) are not truly “aggressive” as much as they are strongly reacting to their fears. Even at home, certain changes and unknown elements can lead our kitties to becoming more stressed and anxious. Chronic stress can also lead to health issues (we all know that), and some kitties may be more sensitive than others. For all of us cat lovers, we definitely understand that a happy cat means a happy house. I’m sure you can recognize an angry or very scared cat, but can you recognize the early signs of feline stress? And if so, what can you do to help them adjust and keep them from getting to the tipping point?

Recognize signs of stress in your cat

Dr. Sophia Yin was a veterinarian and behaviorist who spent years learning, teaching, and applying low stress principles. Her goal was to gain and teach a new understanding of the motivation behind an animal’s response and why fear is such a driving force behind many negative and potentially dangerous behaviors. Knowing what to look for and recognizing some of the more subtle and early signs of fear is also incredibly important in any pet setting, such as a vet’s office, groomer’s or even during your day-to-day routine. She helped to put together the infographic below to help teach pet owners and professionals how to recognize stressed feline body language.

Signs of Cat Fear & Anxiety:

Most pet owners can recognize obvious signs of fear, but there are many subtle signs that your pet is uncomfortable or scared. If those signs are ignored, THAT’S when you may see a more severe reaction.

Cat Stress & AnxietyWhat Next?

Are you noticing these signs in your cat? Whether or not they precede an episode of aggression or simple “acting out”, it is your duty as a pet parent to back up and reassess your pet’s emotional well-being. It’s also important to consider the fact that these signs (and others; including inappropriate urination or aggression towards companions) may be an indication of an underlying medical problem! Work with your vet to make sure that’s not the case before you move forward.

If possible, try to determine what is stressing your cat out. Consider that their senses are much more heightened than ours, so they’ll be more sensitive to new smells, changes in texture, noises, etc.

If needed, working with a trainer or behaviorist can help, especially if it’s isolated to certain situations or environments (yes, there are behaviorists that work with cats!). HERE are some great ideas on how to reduce stress at home. You can also talk to your veterinarian about Fear Free practices.

When my cats aren’t happy, I’m not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they’re just sitting there thinking up ways to get even.

    -Percy Bysshe Shelley


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