Perhaps it seems to you that the cat has nothing to stress – that his life is a constant idyll, lounging, playing and napping. In reality, however, it is not the case. Cats get used to their surroundings and the rhythm of the day. Even seemingly minor and insignificant changes can throw a pet out of its mental balance. The cat experiences fear in response to any problematic changes or threat. How to calm a cat when it is behaving aggressively or uncomfortable?
Causes of stress in cats
There may be different reasons why cats experience stress. It depends on many factors – age of separation from mother, genetics, race, past experiences, upbringing, environment. Calming your cat down should take all these aspects into account. Here are the most common causes of cat stress:
- another cat or animal in the house – although cats usually like company, some individuals simply do not get along. Proper socialization is also very important – without it, the second animal can be perceived as a rival and competition;
- significant changes to your daily routine – renovation, new people, new pet, moving house, remodeling, irritating sounds, smells or visual stimuli. The cat perceives all these aspects very intensely. Depending on the character, he may or may not care about them. However, it is always worth introducing such changes gradually and carefully;
- a visit to the vet or treatments;
- confined in a small space, especially with unloved individuals – a cat requires a large area to live. According to experts, it should be about 50 m2 per individual;
- discipline by the owner – shouting does not help. The cat will not understand these commands, but it may become scared or aggressive. Your pet must clearly know what he is allowed and what is not. Otherwise, he will be confused and stressed;
- death or departure of a household member, including a friendly animal – contrary to appearances, cats are not loners at all. They are strongly attached to other people and animals, and the loss of someone they like is strongly felt by them;
- limited access to fulfillment of basic needs – food, opportunities to do things, play. A bored and neglected cat is more prone to nervous breakdowns and may show unpleasant behavior;
- disturbed circadian rhythm – this applies to eating, rest and play. The cat is used to its own rhythm, which should not be disturbed by the owner. Often times, calming down your cat is just a return to familiar habits.
Calming the cat down in various situations
Your response should depend on what is causing your pet’s stress or anxiety. It is different for a young cat than for an adult. You also need to take into account the nature of the pet. Below are some general tips on how to calm your cat down. Remember to adapt them to the individual needs of your kitten.
Calming the cat at a young age
As a rule, small cats are more afraid and scared than adult cats. Kittens are just discovering the world around them and every little thing may seem scary. A lot of stress is associated not only with the age itself, but also with the abandonment of mother and siblings and the change of environment. How to calm a cat that is terrified of practically everything that surrounds it? The key to success is patience.
You must handle it gently and carefully. Much depends on the individual character of the cat – some pets are more courageous and open to new experiences, others skittish and secretive. Calming down a cat, however, always boils down to providing him with a friendly, safe environment, paying attention, sensitivity and understanding. If your pet is extremely fearful, try to introduce new places, things and people slowly and gradually to avoid shock.
How to calm a cat in the first days in a new home? Here are some tips:
- provide him with company – the younger the kitten, the more attention it needs. Cats do better in pairs. It would be ideal if you could adopt two cats from one litter – with siblings it will be much easier for them. If this is not possible, your company is also enough;
- touch and caress – physical contact has a calming effect on cats. Just a simple brush, stroking or taking on your hands is enough. In time you will see for yourself what your cat enjoys and what she prefers to avoid. However, everyone needs some form of regular caress for proper development. It is just as important to talk to your kitten to get them used to your voice;
- have fun often – stimulating stimuli distract the cat from stress. When you play together, your kitten gets more used to you and stops thinking about his anxiety;
- stay calm and composed – small cats learn the most through imitation. So, to calm your cat down, you need to stay relaxed yourself. Don’t get carried away – your pet will sense it all and will be even more irritable. It is also not worth running the cat to help with every little thing. Your reaction will teach him what kind of reaction is justified in a given situation.
Calming down an adult cat
How to reassure a cat that is clearly afraid, running away or being aggressive? A common mistake is to force a pet out of its hiding place, forcefully hug it, or ignore its needs. An isolated shelter is very necessary for a cat for its psychological balance. Instead of taking them from him, use other methods.
The amount and type of daily physical activity is very individual among cats. Experts confirm that nothing like ADHD occurs in cats. However, you may notice the so-called periods of highly elevated activity – referred to as FRAPs. This phenomenon is much more common among young cats and is bursting with excess energy.
How to calm the cat when it runs like crazy around the apartment, jumps on the furniture, destroys everything in its path and does not respond to the call? Actually, it’s better not to do that! This behavior is perfectly normal and necessary. In this way, the cat discharges the accumulated energy – it relieves the tension and it just enjoys. If you are bothered by times when this happens, it may be worth spending more time playing. This is the best way to control your bouts of madness.
Short-term stress in a cat
How to calm your cat down in case of short-term stress? Such a reaction occurs in situations that arise suddenly and pass quickly. Often a cat can handle it on its own – but not always. The frequency of such moments and their duration are important here. Take care to minimize these types of factors in the feline environment. If that doesn’t help and your cat becomes stressed even after the stimulus has disappeared, it’s time to react.
Calming down a cat suffering from short term stress should be as follows:
- talk to your pet – use a soft, gentle and as natural tone as possible to make your cat aware that there is nothing to be afraid of;
- stroke and gently touch the cat – be careful when doing this; irritated animals can behave aggressively and you should not scold them for this;
- redirect his attention to something else – a favorite treat or toy may work well here;
- above all, stay calm and self-controlled – a raised voice and nervous behavior increase the cat’s sense of danger and fear.
Cat chronic stress
This is a slightly more complicated situation that requires a more serious response. Chronic stress in cats results from prolonged exposure to stressful stimuli. It can appear as a reaction to trauma, as well as frequent and long-term anxiety – the susceptibility to it is genetically determined. How to calm a cat that has been diagnosed with chronic stress? It requires commitment from you:
- eliminate the source of stress – in more severe cases, you will notice the effects only after a longer period of time or after behavioral therapy;
- if the above point is not possible, try to reevaluate the negative stimulus. This is not an easy task – the help of a specialist may be required here. Treats, toys, affectionate words, stroking and a lot of time will also help you;
- rearrange the house to suit your needs. You may need to rearrange the bowls and litter box and change its size or filling. Provide your cat with lots of toys and hiding places – especially high places where it can safely observe its surroundings;
- spend more time with your cat and encourage them to play and exercise;
- if necessary, support yourself with ready-made measures. Calming down the cat is sometimes easier with the help of special cat pheromones. You can use natural products or artificial substitutes. It is a way of calming the cat, imperceptible to the human nose;
- in extreme cases, you may be tempted to give you sedatives. Even natural, plant-based products can have a strong effect on the cat’s organism. Therefore, always follow the recommendations of the behaviorist and veterinarian – do not use them on your own.
Do you already know how to calm a cat that is behaving uncomfortably? Sometimes it only requires a gentle approach and a few kind words. At other times, you may need specialized behavioral therapy with the help of a qualified professional. Skilful calming a cat is an art that requires time, patience, understanding and understanding of your pet’s character and needs. The lack of any reaction and inept behavior can be just as dangerous to the mental health of the pet. If you are unsure about something, see your vet or behaviorist.