What does stress look like in cats?

  • Date: October 8, 2022
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Stress is a normal part of life for cats, just as it is for humans. But unlike humans, cats can’t tell us when they are under stress or what it looks like. It’s up to us as cat owners to be able to recognize signs of stress in our cats so that we can take action to help them. Stress in cats can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including changes in behavior, physical changes, and other signs that may be more subtle. It’s important to know what to look for so that you can take the necessary steps to reduce your cat’s stress and help them lead a happy and healthy life.

Signs and Symptoms of Stress in Cats

Living with cats is a joy, but when an animal is stressed out, it can be difficult to tell what’s going on with them. Stress in cats can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from physical symptoms to behavioral changes. It’s important to learn how to recognize the signs of stress in cats so that you can take the necessary steps to help them feel better.

Physical Signs of Stress in Cats

The first indications that your cat might be stressed out are physical. Stress can cause a number of physical symptoms, including:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Excessive grooming
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Excessive panting
  • Low energy

If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet to rule out any medical issues. Once you’ve ruled out any underlying medical conditions, you can then focus on addressing the stress.

Behavioral Signs of Stress in Cats

In addition to physical signs, cats can also show signs of stress through their behavior. These can include:

  • Hiding or avoiding people
  • Aggression
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside the litter box)
  • Excessive clinginess

If your cat is exhibiting any of these behaviors, it’s important to take note and start looking for the source of their stress.

Common Causes of Stress in Cats

There are many different causes of stress in cats, including:

  • Moving to a new home
  • Changes in routine
  • Lack of stimulation
  • Underlying medical issues
  • Fear of loud noises, such as fireworks
  • Conflict with other pets or people

If your cat is exhibiting signs of stress, it’s important to take the time to assess the situation and see if you can identify the cause of their stress.

How to Help a Stressed Cat

Once you’ve identified the cause of your cat’s stress, there are a few steps you can take to help them feel better. These include:

  • Provide a safe, quiet space for them to relax
  • Engage in regular interactive play sessions
  • Provide plenty of scratching posts and hiding spots
  • Introduce new toys and activities
  • Use pheromone diffusers or sprays to create a calming environment
  • Give them treats or catnip as a reward for good behavior

These steps can help alleviate your cat’s stress levels and make them feel more comfortable in their environment.


Stress in cats can be difficult to recognize, but understanding the signs and symptoms can help you identify the cause of the problem and take the necessary steps to help your cat feel better. If you think your cat is stressed, take the time to assess the situation and look for potential causes. From there, you can take the steps necessary to help your cat feel more comfortable and relaxed.

## Common Myths About Stress in Cats

1. Myth: Cats don’t experience stress.

Fact: Cats absolutely experience stress, just like humans do. Stress can manifest in cats in several ways, such as changes in behavior, appetite, and sleeping habits.

2. Myth: All cats are affected the same by stress.

Fact: Every cat is different and will respond to stress differently. Some may hide or become more affectionate, while others may become aggressive or vocal.

3. Myth: Stress in cats is only caused by negative events.

Fact: While it is true that negative events can cause stress in cats, even positive events such as introducing a new pet to the household can lead to stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of stress in cats?

The signs of stress in cats can vary depending on the individual, but common signs can include hiding, pacing, aggression, excessive grooming, changes in eating or sleeping habits, increased vocalization, and inappropriate urination or defecation.

What can I do to reduce stress in my cat?

There are several things you can do to reduce stress in your cat. Providing a safe, comfortable environment for them, with plenty of hiding spaces, toys, and scratching posts is important. You can also provide mental stimulation, such as interactive toys or playtime with you. Additionally, providing your cat with a routine, such as daily walks and regular meals, can help them feel more secure. If your cat’s stress is related to the presence of another animal in the home, you may need to separate them and introduce them gradually.



Cats can exhibit physical and behavioral signs of stress which can include loss of appetite, excessive grooming, aggression, hiding, and inappropriate elimination. Common causes of stress in cats include changes in routine, fear of loud noises, and conflicts with other pets or people. To help a stressed cat, provide a safe and quiet space, engage in regular interactive play, provide scratching posts and hiding spots, introduce new toys and activities, use pheromone diffusers and sprays, and reward good behavior with treats or catnip.

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