Cat Stress Relievers – 10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out!

Most of us know that cats are easily stressed.  Even a minor variation in your cat’s daily routine can make him a nervous wreck!  Major changes, like moving or the arrival of a new cat, dog or baby into the household can send even the most mellow kitty into crazy mode. In these circumstances, learning about cat stress relievers is a must.

One of the reasons cats get stressed might be because cats equate routine with control.  Change the routine, they lose control.  Or at least that’s the way they see it.  If cats don’t feel like they’re in control of their environment, then tend to get anxious.

Many people don’t realize how we can create stress for our cat.  Here’s a list of some triggers, as well as ways to relieve your cat’s stress.

10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out

1.  Punishing Him for Acting Like a Cat

Don’t ever hit your cat – even a slight swat will accomplish only one thing – and that’s teaching him to fear you.  Yelling has the same effect – it will scare him off, but won’t teach the cat what behavior you don’t like. Instead of yelling at your cat or physically assaulting them (I mean it – knock it off!), distract him with a toy or activity to SHOW him what you want him to do instead of whatever behavior he’s doing that’s bugging you.  Teach your cat what’s acceptable and what’s not by SHOWING him. And when he does right – reward him with affection and/or treats.  And make sure your cat has things he can climb on and scratch.  Get him a scratching post or kitty play condo.  These things will keep him busy, active, and away from your stuff!

2.   Assuming He Understands What You’re Saying

Most animals, including cats, use body language to communicate.  That’s why our talking to them and expecting them to understand just doesn’t make sense. Instead of talking to your cat then getting frustrated when he gives you a blank stare, try teaching your kitty instead.  For example, show the cat what you’d like him to do (sit, for example) – by gently pushing him into a sitting position – then reward him with affection and treats.  If you want him to pee in the litter box, pick him up, place him in the litter box – when he’s done, reward him with affection and/or treats.  Whenever the cat is doing something you don’t want him to do, redirect him to what you do want him to do.

For more information on how to train your cat, check out this video:

3.  Grasping His Head

Dogs like it when people come up to them, cup their head in our hands, and ruffle their ears…know what I mean?  But cats hate this. If you’ve approached a cat this way, I’m sure you’re noticed they throw it in reverse immediately and recoil.   Cats are much more comfortable with gentle, long strokes from the head or neck area to the tail, or a gentle scratching around the ears or under the chin.

4.  Holding Onto Him to Hug or Kiss Him

When you try to hold your cat, he may perceive it as being restrained – which is what happens in the wild when a predator catches a cat.  In order to be comfortable, your cat needs to maintain his ability to move freely and escape. Sometimes cats will get stressed out when people hold them, even when we’re being affectionate.  Many a human chest (including my own!) has been torn to shreds by a cat launching off of us with claws out!  The general rule is that cats like to have all of their interactions on their own terms…it’s how they control their environment like we talked about earlier.  It’s just best to let the cat come to you instead of trying to catch or restrain it.

5.  Not Taking Care of the Litter Box

Most cats will happily use the litter box and not the floor or carpet as long as you keep the litter box clean. Cats are clean animals by nature. I had a female cat who refused to use the litter box if it was the least bit dirty!  The litter box, ideally, should be scooped at least once daily (more often if you have more than one cat using it), and dumped with litter replaced at least every week.  Every two weeks is acceptable, but….well…gross in my opinion.  Would you want to pee in a toilet that hadn’t been flushed in two weeks?  Eeeww!  There are self-cleaning litter boxes out there.  If you really hate scooping cat litter, maybe you could give one of these a try.  If your cat won’t use the litter box, check out this video for help.

6. Picking a Bad Location for the Litter Box

How would you like it if your toilet was located in the middle of the living room?  The same logic applies to cats.  Don’t put the cat’s litter box in an open, noisy, high-traffic area of your home.  They want a private, safe spot to do their business just like us.  Put the litter box in a quiet area of your home where the cat isn’t likely to encounter people, other pets or loud appliances.  If your cat is older, make sure the litter box is in a location where it is easily accessible to your cat.

how to train your cat to stop biting7.  Getting Mad When He Attacks!

It’s tempting and fun to wiggle your toes or fingers under the blanket to watch your cat’s reaction.  But it’s also really (really really) stupid of you to be surprised when he goes for it and sinks his claws and teeth into you!  Don’t get mad at your cat for being a cat.  If you mimick the behavior of prey, he’ll attack. Use toys instead of your fingers and toes!

8.  Leaving Your Cat Alone For Days

Some people think that because cats are independent and don’t have to be let outside to go to the bathroom, that it’s OK to leave them home alone for days on end.  It’s not OK.  Read that again.  IT’S NOT OK.

Number one, cats really shouldn’t be eating a diet of dry food alone – they need a moist diet.  So leaving a big bowl of dry food out for them to eat off of for days just isn’t a good thing.  Also, many cats will gorge themselves in you leave out a large amount of food.  They’ll eat the bulk it if within hours after you leave, then throw up and have nothing to eat until you return.  This is stressful for your cat, not to mention downright dangerous for their health.

cat stress relieversAnother thing is the litter box.  How long do you think it will take your cat to look for someplace else to relieve himself once several days have gone by without the litter box being scooped and it’s overflowing with poop and pee? And finally, your cat could injure himself or become ill during your absence and no one would know.

I recommend asking a neighbor, friend, relative, or professional pet sitter to stop by each day during your absence to feed and water your cat, scoop the litter box, and spend a few minutes with him to make sure he’s OK, content and healthy. If you have even one fellow cat owner in your neighborhood, then you almost surely have an available cat-sitter.  Most cat owners are happy to help take care of someone’s kitty while they’re away. And you can return the favor for them next time they go on vacation!

9.  Using Scented Candles, Plug-Ins, Perfume, or Strong Smelling Chemicals

Cats are very sensitive to odors.  They can easily become overwhelmed by smells in the air, on clothing or bedding, and even on you. Try to keep your use of chemicals of all kinds to a minimum, especially the ones that have a strong odor.  Try using organic, non-toxic home cleaners instead of toxic pine-based floor cleansers, chemical wet mops, or ammonia/bleach-based cleaners.  Remember your cat lives on the floor, sleeps in the bed with the blanket you used half a gallon of strong smelling fabric softener on, and they visit the litter box often that might have a terribly strong bleach smell from cleaning.  Keep in mind that everything you smell, they smell ten times stronger.

how to separate fighting cats10. Bringing Home Other Cats

Any new living thing you bring into into your home – a guest, a new pet, a new baby, will cause temporary stress for your cat.  This is way worse when you bring a strange cat home, especially if they aren’t properly introduced.  Introducing a new cat to the family should be done carefully.  Set them up in a separate area first, letting them get used to each other gradually, at their own pace.  This will help reduce the risk of their fighting and keep everyone’s stress levels down.

For more information on fighting, read this article, How To Stop Cats From Fighting, and How to Break Up a Cat FightBoth articles have videos included!

how to train a dog with treatsI Hope This Helped!

I hope this article has been helpful.  Cats are such wonderful pets and the happier and more comfortable they are, the more affectionate and loving companions they will be for us!  Debra

Taking Your Cat on a Vacation – Tips for Traveling With a Cat

It can be fun to take your cat along with you when you travel.  However, there are many things to think about and be aware of before you take kitty on a trip. Your cat’s comfort and safety are most important!

Taking Your Cat on a Vacation


Plan Ahead

Provide comfort from home.  Bring along your kitty’s favorite blanket or toy.  Something that feels (and smells!) like home will help calm your cat.

Clip their claws. Trim your cat’s nails before the trip to reduce the chances or your getting scratched while trying to put him in and out of the carrier.  If you’re not sure how, it’s best to let your vet do it.  Most vet’s offices will provide a quick trim either for free or for a low fee. Places like Petco will also trim your cat’s nails for you.

Identification and vaccinations. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with a tag attached showing the cat’s name and your phone number. You can purchase these at www.pettags.com. And make sure to use your CELL phone number – you don’t want someone calling your house if you lost your cat while you’re away.  And remember not everyone checks, or even knows about micro-chipping – so make sure your phone number is on your cat’s ID on his collar. If you’re traveling across state or country borders, you need to have up-to-date vaccination records with you.

traveling with your catCarrier Travel

Pick the right carrier. Carriers are a must for traveling with your cat.  Make sure you pick the right size carrier – the cat should be able to stand and turn around inside the carrier.  I find the best prices for cat carriers on Amazon. And always check that all the hinges are closed correctly – many cats have dropped out of carriers because the carrier wasn’t latched all around.

Train your cat to be in the carrier. It’s important to get your cat used to being in a carrier, not just for travel, but for regular trips to the vet as well.  Your cat will be much more comfortable and calm when traveling if he’s already used to the carrier.  I recommend starting by putting the carrier in your living room with its door open.  Let the cat explore it.  Put a soft blanket in the bottom of the carrier, along with a couple of treats.  Catnip too if your cats likes that.  If your cat won’t go inside on his own, put him inside the carrier – letting him jump right back out the first time.   Put him in more and more often over a period of several days – providing positive reinforcement each time (cuddling, petting, treats). Little by little, he’ll get used to being in the carrier.  Then start closing the door, leaving your cat in the carrier for just a few minutes at first, then longer periods of time.  You might also put him in the car, without the car running – for a few minutes.  Then maybe a short drive around the block…you get the idea.  Take your time allowing your cat to get used to the carrier before just tossing him in there and taking him on a road trip!  LOL

checklist for a new puppyCar Travel

Keep your cat safe.  When driving, always keep your cat in a carrier in the backseat, fastened with a seat belt or harness to keep the carrier from being thrown in case of an accident, and also to keep you from being distracted with the cat wandering around the car.  Putting your cat in the car without a carrier is extremely dangerous – he could jump out and run when you open the door, he could crawl under the seats and up under the gas and brake pedals – he could distract you to the point of causing an accident.  Please always use a carrier.

Provide water.  The best way to provide water in the carrier is to use a hamster water bottle.  Put that in place when you’re training your cat to use the carrier so he’s aware he can get a drink from that when you’re traveling. A few drops of water from a hamster water bottle is enough to satisfy a thirsty cat.

Keep your cat calm. Keeping kids calm in the car requires entertainment. Keeping cats calm in the care requires QUIET and BOREDOM.  Don’t crank the music, and don’t constantly interact with your cat. If you feel your cat will not stay calm and is in distress, talk with your vet.  There are mild sedation medications that can help a scared kitty.

Feed your cat. Cats are more likely to eat a whole meal if it’s canned cat food instead of dry.  So if your cat doesn’t already eat canned food (which you should probably switch to, by the way, it’s better for them) – then for a few weeks before the trip start getting them used to it. Make sure you offer a small meal at regular intervals when traveling with your cat.  Try to keep the schedule as close to usual as possible.  And remember if your cat is taking any medication to help calm him, it usually needs to be taken with meals.  If your kitty tends to get car sick, talk to your vet about anti-nausea medication. For more information on what you should be feeding your cat, refer to this article, Best Food for Your Cat.

Never take your cat out of the car without the carrier!  People think their cats are calm and they have a, “He’ll stay with me” mentality.  But please – realize that when you’re away from home, it’s an unfamiliar environment, not to mention there are several things (car doors slamming, horns honking) that can startle your cat.  Don’t take the risk of your cat jumping out of  your arms while you’re away.  If they run, you may never seem them again.  It’s just not worth the risk. Put them inside the carrier with the door latched before opening the car door.

Plane Travel

Bring your cat in the cabin. Cats who are “checked” like baggage and end up riding in the belly of a plane are at risk in extreme weather and can get lost, just like luggage.  The safest way to fly with your cat is to bring your cat into the cabin with you.  Find an airline that allows pets in the cabin (which may include a fee) and make advance reservations. You will also need an airline-approved carrier and a health certificate signed by your veterinarian.

Anticipate emergencies. Be prepared.  Bring a couple of hand towels to line the carrier in case the cat vomits or pees, along with a few plastic bags to dispose of the soiled towels if necessary.  Carrying some paper towels and cat-safe cleansing wipes can also help with a clean up.

traveling with your catTraveling With Your Cat Doesn’t Have to Be a Traumatic Experience for Either of You.

By planning ahead, training your cat, and getting him used to traveling, you can take kitty lots of places! I hope you’ve found this article useful and please, comment below if you have more tips!  Debra 🙂

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