While we may think that stress only affects humans, the fact is that cats can easily become stressed and show this by inappropriate elimination. The intelligence and sensitivity of cats makes them susceptible to stress, and when you begin to find puddles on furniture or rugs, it could well be the result of an upset, fearful and stressed-out cat.
Stress can actually cause a physical condition, interstitial cystitis, to occur in your cat. Although this illness is not completely understood, it appears to affect the nerves connected to the bladder and can cause your cat to lose control. Once other medical conditions have been ruled out, it will be time to help your cat relax once again.
Meditation for Kitties?
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to teach your stressed-out cat how to meditate, but there are some things you can do to help your cat relax and hopefully return to normal litter box use as quickly as possible.
- Multi-cat households usually have one cat who dominates the others to some extent. A cat who is “lower down on the totem pole” can feel threatened by the top cat. Providing a safe spot for the lower status cat can help relieve the pressure he or she may be feeling. A litter box, bed, food, and water in a separate area can help calm a nervous cat.
- Make sure there are enough litter boxes for all the cats in home. Each cat should have their own box, and all the boxes should be kept clean. Jockeying for position with other cats at a single litter box can cause a cat to avoid using it.
- A change in litter can also upset a cat and cause inappropriate elimination. If you are changing litters, do so gradually, adding a bit of the new one every day.
- Changes in the household routine, such as illness, a new baby, or a new pet can stress your cat out. If possible, pay more attention to the cat and try to settle things in as quickly as possible. A quick return to routine will help your cat back to the litter box.
- Indoor “trees” give cats a secure perch where they can get away from other pets and young children who may not understand how to treat animals.
Sit down with your stressed-out cat and spend some time simply stroking the animal. This is very soothing and comforting to a cat, and you may find yourself relaxing as well.