The coronavirus pandemic has caused drastic changes in how we live our daily lives. And when our lives change, so do the lives of our furry friends, which can be very stressful for some animals– especially cats. Cats are animals that enjoy routine, quiet environments, and a certain amount of solitude. So, their owners quarantining at home is something that can be particularly challenging for cats to deal with, since it changes both their routine and their social environment.
If you’re concerned that your cat might be feeling stressed during quarantine, this post is for you. Read on to learn how to recognize the signs of stress in your cat, what causes stress in cats, and what you can do to help ease your cat’s stress.
Signs of Stress in Cats
It’s easy to tell when some pets are stressed. For example, most dogs show their stress in fairly clear ways. When dogs are stressed, they may bark, whine, act restless, or obsessively lick or chew. Cats, on the other hand, tend to show their stress in more subtle ways, especially when they first become stressed.
Some more subtle signs that you cat is stressed include:
- Hiding away in unusual places within your home
- Eating or drinking less
- Eating or drinking more
- Avoiding humans or other pets that they once enjoyed being around
- Urinating or defecating more frequently
Some more noticeable signs that your cat is stressed include:
- Urinating or defecating outside their litter box
- Meowing or yowling more than usual
- Fighting with other cats and dogs that they usually get along with
- Shedding more than normal
Since the signs of stress in cats can often be subtle, it’s important for pet owners to pay attention whenever their cat veers away from their normal behavior and routines. If your cat has changed their routine and is exhibiting the behaviors listed above, it’s likely that they’re feeling stressed.
Stress in your cat is something that you should address as soon as you notice it, and not just because you don’t want to see your cat feeling unhappy. Chronic stress also suppresses the immune system, which can put your cat’s health at risk.
So, what should you do to help your stressed cat feel better? The solutions for cat stress can be different depending on the cause of the stress, which we’ll talk more about in the next section.
Cat Stress Causes and Solutions
There are many things that can cause your cat to feel stressed. In this post, we’ll focus on two highly likely causes of cat stress during the coronavirus pandemic: routine changes and social changes.
Cats are true creatures of habit; they’re very sensitive to changes in routine. A cat can become stressed by virtually any change in routine, whether that change is in their routine or in the routine of someone they live with. A cat can feel stressed if their owner starts getting up earlier in the morning, if their feeding time changes, if their owner starts interacting with them in a different way, and so on.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused some pretty drastic changes in the routines of people across the world. And if your routine has changed significantly due to COVID-19, this could be causing quite a bit of stress for your cat. So, what can you do to reduce cat stress that’s caused by your routine changes?
The key to calming cat stress that’s caused by routine changes is to try your best to give your cat some consistency in their routine. You may not be able to do anything about the fact that your routine has just changed drastically during these uncertain times, but you can provide your cat with some consistency in your new routine. Some things you could do to provide your cat with predictability include feeding them at the same time, having the same family member feed them, and keeping your interactions with your cat consistent. Additionally, if you can, try to have some consistency in your own routine, which can help your cat feel more comfortable and secure.
Social changes, the changes in your cat’s social environment and social interactions, can cause them to feel stressed for two reasons. One, because it can dramatically change their routine. For example, if everyone in your house is suddenly working from home, doing their schooling at home, and spending their social time at home during the pandemic, that will undoubtedly cause some major routine changes in the household, which can stress out your cat. Then, two, social changes can cause stress in cats because it can be overwhelming for them. Though many cats enjoy some petting and an occasional snuggle, cats are naturally independent animals that enjoy being alone. They also tend to prefer quiet and peaceful environments. If your house is suddenly occupied all the time due to social distancing, stay at home orders, or a city lockdown, your cat may feel overwhelmed by all the additional activity, extra noise, and the fact that they have less alone time in your home.
If you’re a cat owner, the coronavirus pandemic has probably caused some major changes in your cat’s social environment, especially if there are multiple people stuck inside your household. While there isn’t much you can do about having more people at home right now, there are things you can do to help your cat manage stress that’s caused by social changes, including:
- Give your cat a small dose of CBD oil daily to help ease their overall stress levels. Many pet owners find that CBD oil can help reduce their cat’s anxiety and stress, and improve their overall emotional state and quality of life.
- Make sure that your cat has several dedicated spaces of their own. Cats need to have their own territory to feel safe and happy. If your cat doesn’t have their own spaces, create those spaces for them with perches, cat trees, soft bedding on high shelves, etc.
- Let your cat retreat and be alone. If your cat wants to get away from social interaction, let them. Trying to force social interaction on your cat when they are not reciprocating will only increase their stress levels.
- Provide environmental enrichment, like food puzzles, new toys, new games, structures to climb up and hide in. The mental stimulation given by environmental enrichment can help your cat feel better overall by providing them with interesting things to do and explore.