10 Signs Your Cat Might Be Stressed

Written by:

PetMD Editorial
Published: June 20, 2014

Is Your Cat Freaking Out?

Stress can make anyone a little crazy, even our cats. The tricky part is while the anxiety and fear associated with stress affects our cats in much the same way it does us, most cats tend to hide and mask their inner turmoil. Even worse, stress can be an indication that your cat has a health issue. According to Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist, chronic stress can even "suppress the immune response, causing a broad range of illnesses." Here are some signs of stress you'll want to watch out for in your cat, especially if they occur suddenly.

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1. Urinating Outside Litter Box

It's annoying, smelly and a pain to clean up, but pay attention. Cats that urinate outside the cat litter box are trying to tell us something. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist to find out what it is.

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2. Diarrhea, Constipation or other Digestive Issue

This is another rather stinky situation and one that could be indicative of several things. Best not let it go and speak with your vet.

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3. Excessive Grooming

Cats are known for their fastidious grooming, but licking themselves raw or bald is a clear sign of distress. Skip the groomer and go straight for the vet's office.

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4. Excessive Scratching

Like compulsive licking, excessive scratching can be indicative of several health and behavioral issues. Make an appointment with your veterinarian before the problem gets out of hand.

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5. Isolation

Aloofness is second nature to cats. However, a cat should not be actively and constantly hiding from you and everyone else in the house. Once you've managed to wrangle him or her into a cat carrier, go to the vet.

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6. Excessive Vocalization

Many find the tone of a cat "talking" quite soothing, but be wary of unusually long or recurring bouts of panicked meows — especially if your cat is not the typical "talker." If it does happen, take your cat to the veterinarian rather than try to crack the kitty language code.

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7. Decrease in Appetite

Cats don't go on fasts or diets like we do so it's important to consult a veterinarian if your cat suddenly loses interest in cat food or stops eating altogether.

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8. Increased Sleeping

Just because cats can sleep up to 20 hours a day doesn't necessarily mean your cat will. By now you will have become accustomed to his or her sleeping schedule. Speak with your veterinarian if you're cat is sleeping more than usual or seems overly lethargic.

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9. Aggression Towards Other Animals

Fights or aggressive actions towards household pets or other animals can be a sign of a stressed or sick cat. Consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before the problems gets worse.

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10. Aggression Towards People

A stressed or sick cat may also display aggression towards people, even you. Again, it's best to consult your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist immediately.

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