For a cat, a good day is one spent calmly at home, with a fixed routine, in a predictable manner and without too much noise or excitement. Sometimes though, you have to move or take your cat to a vet and these things tend to stress our feline friends. Stressed cats are known to vomit, run away from home, cry, or even refuse to come out of their hiding places. But things need not be this difficult. There are a few tips you can follow and products you can use to minimize stress in cats, especially in an older cat. Here goes:
1. Use cat stress relief plug-ins
Many brands such as Feliway® make stress-relieving plug-ins for cats. These plug-in units provide constant, calming fragrance and are safe, drug-free ways to prevent anxiety and stress in cats. Many vets recommend these products as they are completely non-toxic and quite effective as well. All you have to do is, keep the cat stress relief plug-in constantly plugged in the room where your cat spends time. The soothing fragrance is known to prevent vomiting, spraying, and constant scratching; all of which are signs of a stressed-out, anxious, or frightened cat.
2. Use a cat calming spray
Cats and moving stress go hand-in-hand. Thankfully, spraying certain cat-calming spray products can greatly ease the stress, for you and your pet. Simply spray it on your pet’s carrier or wherever the cat spends time. (Avoid spraying directly on the cat’s body). The soothing fragrance of the calming cat spray promotes relaxation, soothes the nerves, and prevents vomiting, scratching, and spraying behavior.
3. Use cat calming collars
Cat calming collars also soothe stressed out or frightened cats. They contain essential oils like lavender and chamomile that are proven to relieve anxiety and stress. These hypoallergenic collars are quite safe for long-term use and even come highly recommended by vets. Safely use these collars on your cat prior to travel, moving to a new location, during vet-visits, when introducing a new pet into the family, or for cats with separation anxiety. Essential oil-based cat calming collars usually work for around 30 days after which you have to replace them.
4. Use cat calming wipes
Cat calming wipes are NOT to be used directly on the cat but you can safely use them to wipe her carrier. The calming scent of the wipes is released into the air where it works on your cat’s olfactory sense to soothe her anxiety. The scent lasts for several hours and a single wipe should be sufficient to wipe down the interior of a cat’s carrier. Use it prior to chemotherapy, during vet visits, or before travel. You can also place the wipe inside a towel or a blanket and place it inside the cat carrier. Most cat calming wipes are alcohol-free, hence completely safe and non-irritating.
5. Invest in pet snuggle warming toys
Battery-operated snuggle-and-warming toys come with a ‘heartbeat’ and are especially beneficial for young kittens suffering from separation anxiety. Many rescue organizations use these toys to calm abandoned puppies and kittens. Their heat lasts for several hours and the toys are completely non-toxic and safe for pets and people. You can also machine wash them.
6. Tips to prepare anxious cats for vet visits
If your cat tends to get stressed out when visiting the vet, ask your vet to give you an appointment at the ‘cat-only’ timings (when only cats are patients). You can also cover up her carrier with a towel or blanket so that your pet won’t see other animals (especially dogs) in the waiting room. Seek a vet who is sensitive about the comfort of his/her feline patients. There are many vets who go out of their way to ensure keeping cats comfortable. They do so with cat stress-relief plug-ins, separate appointment times for cats and dogs, having a waiting area for cats-only, and playing calming music in the waiting room.
7. Keep your cat’s litter box clean
For cats, cleanliness is next to Godliness. Neat and picky cats won’t settle for anything less than a clean and well-maintained litter box. Dirty litter boxes can stress your pet out. So, never keep cat food near your pet’s litter box. And when you move to your new place, show your cat where the litter box, water, and food are kept. Stir the litter a bit so s/he gets the message.
8. Avoid noise and commotion
As far as possible, avoid loud noises and commotion. If you have an older cat, place her in a quiet room with food and water. You can run an air conditioner or some white noise to cancel out outside sounds of vehicular traffic or constructions. Loud sounds like fireworks can also scare kittens and older cats. Elderly cats that cannot see or hear properly tend to scare easily. So keep things calm. Teach your kids not to disturb your pet. If you are traveling with your cat, you can use Pet Acoustics Safe&Sound® beds or cat carriers that absorb sounds in flight.
9. Ensure that your pet gets adequate sleep
Cats, like babies, need their sleep and sleep deprivation can result in anxiety, irritation, and sickness. Older cats tend to sleep sporadically at night and so they need to catch up on their sleep during the day. Provide a safe, clean, and warm spot for your cat to rest in, especially if you have moved recently. Invest in a sound-proof cat bed. Make sure there is no draft or cold breeze in the area. Play soothing classical music near your pet’s bed. If possible, use a comforting spray-plug-in that works on the olfactory system to soothe frayed nerves.
10. Take care while introducing a new pet
If you are planning to add another pet (a cat or dog) to the family, do so gently. It is unclear whether adding another pet is good or bad for a cat, especially an older, aging cat. Some cats welcome the change; others hate it and may turn hostile. Some cats are traumatized especially if you bring a younger cat that will need a lot of your attention in the first few days. So be patient. Take things slowly. Never leave the two pets alone, especially in the first few days. Observe the pets to ensure that they get along.
11. Shower your pet with love and attention
Sometimes, we cannot avoid changes like moving although our cats hate it. As soon as you move into the new location, keep your cat in a safe area. Provide her with fresh drinking water and her favorite food. Give her a warm, comfortable bed. Try and ease the transition by paying extra attention to her. Play with her and talk to her in a soothing voice. Shower her with your love and attention. This will ease her stress considerably.