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 Post subject: Minimizing Stress and Anxiety in Your Cat
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:08 am 
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Minimizing Stress and Anxiety in Your Cat


Anyone who has suffered stress and anxiety knows the debilitating effects it can have on your health. Stress in cats acts much the same way, and not only can it exacerbate existing physical conditions, but it can lead to a number of problems often considered behavioral, such as litter box avoidance, aggressive behavior, or depression and withdrawal. When behavioral problems suddenly appear, savvy cat owners soon learn to look first for signs of health problems (such as urinary tract infections with litter box avoidance), and next for stress factors, such as changes in the environment.

Although humans relate stress to emotional factors, and those are prevalent in feline stress, stress and anxiety in cats can come from other sources, including environmental changes and physical stress. You will find that many of these areas overlap as we explore further.
We will look at some of the causes of stress in cats, the symptoms, and how we can help our cat get back on an even keel, for better physical and emotional health.

External Causes of Stress in Cats

Cats do not deal well with change. Even subtle changes in a cat's environment can lead to stress; substantial changes, such as moving, introduction of a new baby, spouse, or other animal to the household, can have devastating effects.

New Family Members, Human or Animal:

Cats may react in a number of ways to new family members, including aggression, withdrawal, or sudden litter box avoidance, to name a few. By understanding this and planning ahead, the concerned caregiver can help her cat avoid the stress of a sudden introduction, while letting the cat know that he is still "number one" in the family tree. Introducing a new spouse or human roommate calls for understanding and patience. The newcomer needs to allow the cat to come around at his own pace, and to avoid trying to rush the relationship.

Moving to a New Residence:

Moving calls for care in seeing that your cat's life is disrupted as little as possible. During a local move, it helps to keep him closed off in a separate room with his favorite "blankie," toys, litter box, food and bed, while the rest of the house is moved. Last, bring kitty and all his belongings to the new house or apartment, where you will put him in his own "safe room" while you unpack and rearrange the rest of the household. Having his own things around him will help him understand that he is home. A long distance move is better handled with help. Have one person go ahead to the new residence and set up kitty's safe room. The other will accompany the cat in a carrier with his favorite toy or "blankie," whether by plane, train, or automobile.
A New Job:

A new job or other change in daily routine should also be handled by planning ahead. A week before starting work, start leaving for the day, for gradually increasing periods of time. Before leaving, hold you cat and tell her, "I'm going to be away for awhile, but I promise to come back to you. I love you and I'll miss you, but we'll have fun together when I return." Upon your return, make a big deal over your cat. Tell her how much you missed her and how good it is to be back home. Carry her around, pet her, and ask her how her day was. By the time your job starts, your kitty will be quite accustomed to your absence during the day, and the two of you will look forward to new bonding experience each night upon your return.

The View Through the Window:

A discussion of external stressors would not be complete without mentioning re-directed aggression, a sudden and often inexplicable phenomenon which is more common than realized, Re-directed aggression often happens when a household cat is sitting on his favorite perch, gazing out the window. Suddenly he sees a strange cat stroll through his yard. Frustrated because he can't get outside to defend his territory, the cat will suddenly attack the closest being, whether it is another resident cat or a hapless human. Dealing with this form of aggression calls for creative thinking, which includes keeping your cat away from that window or somehow barring his view, while taking steps to discourage the strange cat from further exploration in your yard.

(No link...came as email message)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:49 am 
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Quote:
Cats do not deal well with change. Even subtle changes in a cat's environment can lead to stress


Absolutely!

I have a constant problem with strays with my outdoor cats. The poor things have to deal with other cats as well as wild animals--not to mention assorted weather hazards.

One of them is so totally frightened all the time (even afraid of me) that I fear he will have a short life. He is a big, beautiful guy, loves to eat and enjoys autumn because there are piles of leaves to make a new bed in every day. But if he ever gets sick, I will have to have him put down, because if I catch him once I will never be able to catch him again. There is no way I would ever want him to be wandering around trying to fend for himself. There are too many cruel people out there...

Good advice Catherine. Thanks for the post.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 8:58 am 
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My sister, who is also a cat lover and has 12, rescued a tiny black kitten from the forest. He was on his last reserves when she got him to the vet. Now that little monster terrorizes the other cats! He's hilarious. He takes flying leaps and lands on his sleeping brothers and sisters. He was obviously not allowed to nurse long enough because he'll suck on just about anything when he's in the mood. One morning, my sister discovered that one of the other cats had strange looking fur. It was like a cock's comb all along the cat's spine. Seemed the new addition had been using that particular cat's fur as a nipple during the night.

When I told my sister about this information, dori, she laughed and said the only way she could relieve the stress on her cats was to give them some relief from the small monster.

My sister's new kitten reminds me of those stories mga used to tell about the cat that adopted him and his family.

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"Democrats work to help people who need help.
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That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 4:40 am 
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When I think of mga's cat, I think, 'OW'.

I have dealt with many little monsters. They are cute, sometimes. Generally the other animals don't think of 'cute', they think, where can I hide.

I have taken in so many kittens, most going to the Animal Shelter. At least the adoptable ones do. But the shelter will not take them in anymore unless you have connections, and I don't have connections.

I can't afford more then the seven I have now. Neutering them alone is a fortune, and I live on a pittance. Their food costs more than mine does.

I sure wish people would be responsible for their pets. But then, I wish they would be responsible for their children and they aren't.

What ever happened to the people of America?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:19 am 
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BUMP...because my cats have just experienced a lot of stress due to family visitors, one of them being an out of control three year old. :evil:

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
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"Democrats work to help people who need help.
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That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:58 am 
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Yes, I was thinking that while rereading this thread.
Molly particularly is going to need a LOT of special attention after the monster leaves.

Just emphasizes what animals have to contend with in their lives. Not so good on grandparents either...

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:47 am 
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I went to one of my favorite haunts yesterday...our local Friends of the Library Used Bookstore. I found a real classic...Cleveland Amory's wonderful book entitled "The Cat Who Came For Christmas." He tells the story of rescuing a thin, abused stray cat from the streets of NYC on a Christmas Eve in the late 70s. He kept the cat and named it Polar Bear. Polar Bear enriched Mr. Amory's life for many years and was the subject of two other books.

If you've not read this book, please do so. It's great. And please visit this website:

http://www.fundforanimals.org/about/Abo ... Amory.html

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"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac

"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."

~Harry S. Truman


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:00 am 
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Heartwarming site!

For years I belonged to Fund for Animals. That along with other animal organizations, civil rights, women's rights, farm animal and environmental organizations. I still get mail wanting donations, and if I were to suddenly become wealthy I would donate again.

The next best thing to being able to go out and help someone yourself, is to fund people who are doing those things.

I remember Cleveland Amory well. Wonderful, kindly curmudgeon--those are the best kind.

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