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Cat anxiety: how to help a stressed cat reading-time-icon 2 min read

It's never pleasant to find out that your cat is stressed or anxious, but it's important to be aware of the signs and to know what to do if your cat is suffering from stress and/or anxiety. 

Let's take a closer look at cat anxiety: how to spot the signs, the causes of stress and anxiety and how to keep your cat as happy and calm as can be.

Signs of stress in cats

Stress can be difficult to diagnose, so it’s always best to talk to your vet if you're concerned. 

Certain symptoms are obvious indicators of stress - such as bald patches on the cat’s fur, caused by excessive grooming - but many are a lot more subtle.

It's also worth noting that many of the symptoms below can also belong to other conditions or illnesses, so if you notice your cat displaying any of them, contact your vet right away to have them looked at properly.  

Common signs of cat anxiety:

Any change to your cat’s behaviour could be a sign of stress. Anxiety can weaken their immune system and lead to health problems, so it’s vital to recognise the signs and to reduce stress as best you can.

  • Excessive grooming and hair loss
  • A change in appetite
  • Reluctance to play
  • Spraying urine
  • Hiding
  • Other changes to their behaviour

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Cat anxiety: what causes it?

Some causes are easy to identify - perhaps you've introduced a newborn baby or new pet to the household, you're having building work done or a neighbour’s cat is muscling in on your cat’s territory.

But smaller changes can also disturb your cat’s peace of mind - a new brand of litter, for example, or a house guest they're not familiar with.

Fireworks and thunderstorms can be hugely stressful too.

How to help my stressed/anxious cat?

The best method is to remove the cause of your cat's stress/anxiety from your home, but that method is no use if you have a new pet or newborn baby!

Gradually introducing your cat to the sound, smell and sight of your new pet/baby can help to reduce stress.

Read more: Introducing a new cat to your home or Bringing home a new puppy

Make sure your cat has somewhere safe to retreat to - away from the source of stress. Keep their food bowl, litter tray and resting area separate, and provide high-up areas for them to perch on.

If you’ve done all you can to ease your cat's anxiety but symptoms persist, it could be worth talking to your vet about a calming aid such as Vetpro: Stress & anxiety.

Need more info?

For more advice on cat anxiety or any other aspect of your cat's welfare, get in touch with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.