7 Ways We Might Unintentionally Stress Out Our Cat

February 17, 2016

stress cat KristineBy Linda Cole

When we commit to caring for a cat or any other pet, we accept the responsibility of providing them with everything they need to lead a healthy and happy life. It can be a challenge at times, but it’s well worth the effort because having a pet offers so many benefits. Unfortunately, we can sometimes be unaware of how our actions affect our feline friends, and might unintentionally stress them out.

Scaredy Cat Giggles

The latest Internet sensation involves cucumbers and cats. Scientists are just as baffled as we are about why most felines are so terrified of cucumbers. But they are, and many people have made videos scaring their cat with a cucumber. To set the scene – a cat’s owner sneaks up behind her while she’s eating and places a cucumber directly behind her. When she turns around and sees the cucumber she leaps into the air and races away. Cats are naturally suspicious of unknown objects. Perhaps the cat thinks the cucumber is a snake or some other predator. It may make a funny video to scare your cat with a cucumber, but rest assured, the cat is not the least bit amused.

Scaring your pet in an area where she feels safe, especially where she eats and drinks, will stress her out and can have negative consequences. It can cause her to be wary of places she once thought were safe. If as a result your cat doesn’t eat her CANIDAE meal or drink enough water, this puts her at risk of developing health issues. Your cat’s reaction to the vegetable could also cause her to injure herself, break something, or be stressed out for days after the scare. Please don’t frighten your cat with a cucumber or anything else.

The Dreaded Cat Carrier

The only time most cats enter a cat carrier is when it’s time to go to the vet. When you have to force her inside the carrier it creates stress, which makes the vCat-Animatedet visit even worse from your cat’s point of view. A carrier is the safest way to transport your kitty though, and should be a place she feels comfortable in. Teach her to willingly go into her carrier by making it a spot she can relax in on a daily basis. Put a soft blanket inside the carrier, place the carrier in a cat-approved location, and offer her treats when she’s napping in it to create a positive association. This way, when you need her to go inside the carrier for a vet visit, it will be less stressful.

Unfair Punishment

Punishing a cat for doing something that is natural behavior for her, will do nothing more than stress her out. She may see you as untrustworthy, and you are teaching her to be fearful of you. When you find your kitty climbing the curtains or clawing furniture, it means she needs appropriate scratching surfaces and approved places where she can do what cats do best – climb. Punishing your cat won’t change her behavior.

Dirty Litter Box

Cats are extremely particular about the condition of the litter box, and will stop using it if the box isn’t scooped and cleaned regularly. You may not realize it, but this is a source of anxiety for cats that can cause them to become stressed. Location can also create stress if the box is in a high traffic area or around loud appliances. Your kitty would prefer her litter box to be in a quiet spot, but still easily accessible.

Lack of Stimulation

Yes, cats sleep a lot, but that doesn’t mean your kitty isn’t up for some excitement by stalking a favorite wiggly toy, climbing or scratching on her cat tree, or watching the birds outside from a window perch. Physical activity and mental stimulation are just as important for cats as they are for us, to maintain a healthy mind and body.

stress cat EirikRestraining Her

Many cats enjoy being cuddled by their owner, but it’s usually on their terms. Even though your kitty may allow you to hold her, she still wants to maintain her ability to make a quick escape if needed. Although cats are effective predators, they can also be prey and her natural instinct is to resist being restrained. If you continue to hold her against her will, it can cause her to stress out.

Unnatural Scents

Our homes may be filled with many artificial scents from cleaning products, perfumes, room deodorizers, scented candles etc. These artificial scents can stress out your cat because they can interfere with her sense of smell. Even though an indoor cat lives in a safe environment, she doesn’t want to be without her sense of smell to detect prey or unseen dangers. Felines understand their environment through their nose, and it’s what helps them navigate through their world. For that reason, it’s a good idea to limit the use of artificial scents inside your home as much as possible.

Top photo by Kristine Paulus/Flickr
Bottom photo by Eirik Newth/Flickr

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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