Signs of Cat Stress

Scratch Marks

Only vertical scratch marks are considered to be a sign of stress. But your cat can also scratch on vertical surfaces to keep its claws in trim. How can you differentiate the two types of vertical scratching?

If the cat targets only one or two specific sites in the home, usually in hidden or 'quiet' areas, it is likely to be keeping its claws in shape for hunting.

If the scratching becomes more widespread, particularly if found in visible areas around doorways and windows, or centered on prominent objects such as a couch or table, then this may be an indication that the cat is unsettled or stressed. In this case the cat may be scratch marking to increase the number of visual and scent signals in the immediate environment.

Urine Marks

Feline urine spraying is one of the primary methods used by cats to mark their territory. Whether male or female, neutered or not, it is exhibited in some way by almost every cat.

While spraying urine outdoors may be acceptable, most owners find the behavior difficult to tolerate in the home due to the strong odor and potential hygiene risks.

Urine marking is a very specific behavioral sequence where the cat adopts a posture that is easy to recognize:

  • He approaches a vertical surface (wall, piece of furnitureā€¦)
  • He sniffs the surface and paces the floor
  • The cat then turns his back
  • Standing with his tail erect, he emits a horizontal jet of urine onto the object


Marks of urine are generally small and seen above the ground around eye level for cats. Urine on the floor, large volumes of urine or urine in the sleeping area are typically not signs of urine marking, and it is advisable that you consult your veterinarian for further work-up and diagnostic tests.

Aggression

In very stressful situations, some cats can react aggressively towards people, other cats or other household pets.

This type of behavior usually occurs when a cat has no way to escape or no other means to express his stress.

More importantly, it is vital to remember that the aggression may not necessarily be shown toward the person, animal or object causing the distress. If your cat is stressed, he may bite you just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, not necessarily because you are the direct cause of the stressā€¦

If all or most of the aggressive behavior is targeted towards one cat, Feliway may help by reducing the stress levels of all the cats in your household.

Please note: If your cat is aggressive towards you or your friends or family, please contact your veterinarian immediately.

The consequences of feline stress

Cats may react to stress in a number of ways and also to a varying degree.

Some cats may be able to cope very well with a stressful event or a change in their environment and may only feel uncomfortable for a few days or just a few hours. In this case, stress is unlikely to have any serious consequences. However, others will have serious problems coping with even small challenges. These cats are far more likely to suffer acute or chronic stress, which can have a real impact on their health, contributing to or exacerbating problems such as cystitis, dermatological conditions, anorexia and obesity.

Please note: If you are worried about your cats stress level or if you believe your cat is suffering from any of the medical conditions discussed above, consult your veterinarian before engaging in any course of action. He/she will recommend suitable options which may include behavior therapy if appropriate.