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Southern Pines areas of North Carolina

Category: Products for Cats with Fear, Anxiety, and Stress

Preventing Fear, Anxiety, and Stress in Cats

Cats show their fear, anxiety, and stress in interesting ways.  For example, if they are stressed about having to confront a new puppy to get to their litter box, they’ll simply find a less-stressful place to pee and poop, typically on a pile of clean clothing or a rug.

Most cat behavior problems can be solved by meeting the unique needs of our feline friends.  These needs are even more important in households with multiple cats, as competition for resources can lead to inappropriate elimination or even catfights.

Hiding Places

Each cat needs a safe hiding place where they can withdraw if they perceive a threat.  Those hiding spaces can be as simple as a cardboard box on a shelf, or as fabulous as premium wood wall-installed cat boxes.  Each cat needs their own hiding place, according to their preferences for height and visibility and their ability to climb and jump.  The reality is that you can’t have too many hiding places for cats, but you need at least one for each.  Cats prefer not to share hiding places when they are scared.  They may share a space to relax with a friend.  In multiple cat homes, hiding places should have multiple entrances to allow a cat to escape when another approaches.

I recommend leaving the cat carriers out with the doors open so cats become comfortable in them.  You can even strap a cat carrier to a cat tree shelf.

Provide Multiple and Separate Key Resources

Key resources for cats are

  • Food
  • Water
  • Litter boxes
  • Materials for nail care
  • Resting areas
  • Play areas and toys

We recommend one more litter box than cats, but litter boxes all lined up in one room are perceived as one litter box for a cat.  The resources must be spread out enough so each cat can enjoy them without feeling threatened by others.  This is most important for toileting.

Opportunity to Express Natural Behaviors

Cats have individual preferences for the materials they use for claw care.  While many prefer sisal or wicker, some like to scratch on wood, thick fabric, rubber, and other materials.  They also have preferences for whether or not the scratching area is horizontal, vertical, or slanted.  It may take some trial and error to determine what your cat(s) will use.

All cats need to play hunt if they can’t hunt for real.  That is why we recommend using dry cat food as treats hidden in toys or tossing dry kibbles for your cat to chase. Older cats may not play as intensely or as long as kittens, but predatory play still enriches their lives.  Allowing cats to hunt and play appropriately prevents them from attacking your feet for funsies. See “Don’t Make These Common Mistakes Feeding Cats” for more information.

Cats in multi-cat homes should have individual playtime with their people.

Consistent Positive Interaction

As if I have to tell cat lovers, cats do things on their own terms.  That includes how they interact with their caregivers.  Cats often initiate interaction by rubbing against you, trying to get on your lap, or -my personal favorite- sitting on my keyboard while I’m typing.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be pet or picked up though.  Reach your hand out and let the cat rub under it.

Cats in multi-cat homes should have individual interaction with their people.

Respect Their Sense of Smell

Cats explore their environment with their olfactory sense.  Therefore, scented litters, heavily perfumed cleaners and detergents, and things that emit odors (scented candles, essential oils, potpourri, smoke of any source) often offend cats.  Cigarette, cigar, pot, pipe, and vape smoke are also dangerous to cats, especially those with asthma.  Prevent your cat from entering areas where you are cleaning, and use non-scented products, especially litter.

For more information about meeting the needs of cats, see AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines.

Products that Prevent and Treat Fear, Anxiety, and Stress in Cats

When you are meeting the needs of your feline friend and they are still exhibiting fear, anxiety, and stress, we have products that help.  If there is a known stressor such as you’re moving or having work done in your home, you can use these products to comfort and provide relief.