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“Paw” Mental Health

mental health

Unfortunately, it’s not just people who can suffer from poor mental health – our feline friends can also be negatively impacted by chronic stress.

What can cause chronic stress in cats?

Chronic stress is a mental health issue in cats may have a number of causes, some of which can seem inconsequential to us but be very upsetting to them! Common stressors involve:

  • Household changes, e.g. the introduction of a new puppy or incompatible cat
  • Environmental changes, e.g. renovations or building work
  • Tension in their household involving either humans or other cats
  • Insufficient provisions for their natural needs, e.g. an indoor cat not being supplied with suitable and regularly cleaned litter facilities.

What are the symptoms of chronic stress in cats?

Because cats are not pack animals, they may actively hide their stress to avoid appearing “vulnerable”, or demonstrate their stress in passive ways. This means that a stressed cat may simply show a decreased appetite, hide more or be less active.

Chronically stressed cats may also show symptoms, such as over-grooming (leading to bald, irritated areas of skin) or inappropriate toileting.

Why is chronic stress in cats bad?

Unfortunately, chronic stress can negatively affect the immune system of affected cats, and can predispose them to certain health issues, such as:

  • Feline idiopathic cystitis – painful urinary tract inflammation without infection
    Recurrent “cat flu” signs
  • Gastrointestinal upset symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, especially if your cat already has a gut sensitivity
  • Obesity and increased risk of diabetes

If your cat shows any changes in behaviour or activity, it’s best to book them in for a consultation with one of our Pet Doctors’ Vets for further assessment. If we identify a behavioural component to your cat’s issue, we can advise on suitable environmental changes and possible medical treatment to sensitively soothe their stress! Don’t let their mental health suffer!

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