In two previous blog entries (see blog posts on Feline Stress: The Cause and The Effect), we have examined the causes and effects of stressed cats and some signs to look for to determine if your cat is stressed. A colleague of mine, Dr. Cori Gross, who specializes in feline behavior medicine, believes indoor cats fluctuate above and below their stress threshold,. This threshold differs for each cat in the same way that stress levels differ for each person. When a cat stays above their stress threshold too long (aka stressed out), they may exhibit some of the signs discussed and/or develop medical problems.
Here are some solutions to minimize stress:
- Always have at least 1 additional litter box per total number of cats in home. If you have 3 cats, you need at least 4 boxes…or start potty training.
- Start playing with your cat: find their favorite toy and play with them for 5-10 minutes a day.
- Add different substrate cat scratchers. My cats love cardboard, some cats prefer carpet or rope.
- Scratchers should be placed close to where they like to sleep.
- Have vertical spaces for your cat as well, they love to be up high and it’s a safe place where they can get away.
- Try pheromones, like Feliway spray, diffusers or Naturecalm collars.
- Have a physical exam performed by a veterinarian every 6-12 months.
- There are also behavior-modifying medications, like Prozac, you can use for cats. These medications are only available with the prescription of a veterinarian after a thorough physical exam and blood work.
- These medications do have side effects, but can be effective if used correctly and in conjunction with the tips listed above.
- Create a safe place for those cats that are “loners.”
- Either high up or in an isolated room.