Cats are attentive, astute and intelligent. It's what makes them great companions, and fascinating to watch as they move around their territory. These qualities we admire also make them very sensitive to changes in the environment, and alterations to their daily routine can lead to stress and anxiety.
Lockdown restrictions over the past months lead to many dramatic changes, not just for us humans, but for our cats as well. Where they were used to time alone resting quietly, they suddenly found themselves with people at home during the day and all the noises that come with it. If you noticed a change in your cat's behaviour, it is possible this is a reaction to stress. Stress can cause cystitis and other health concerns, so it's important to identify the signs as early as possible, acting quickly to create a calming environment.
Here are the signs of stress to look out for:
- Bald patches from overgrooming
- Unexpected aggressive behaviour
- Excessive scratching of furniture
- Inappropriate elimination at home
- Hiding and rejecting attention
- Lethargy and lack of interest in games
- Staring and general disinterest in the environment
- Tense body language
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
The list of stress symptoms we outline here is by no means exhaustive, however any of these behaviours may indicate your cat is in need of help. It's important to understand the triggers and reasons behind any anxious behaviour, so do consult a professional if you feel you need support to help your cat. Observe any changes in behaviour carefully, as putting steps in place to calm your cat early on will go a long way in helping them feel comfortable at home and relaxed in the environment they live in.
What is the best environment for a cat?
In order to work out how to calm a cat and assess the alterations needed in the environment, we must first consider what an optimum environment looks like.
The best environment for a cat will first and foremost offer comfort and security. Your cat should have a draught-free, warm spot to rest in, and access to hiding spaces if they need to be alone.
The toilet area should be suitable for multiple uses, and set away from any sleeping or feeding space your cat uses. Cats are very clean, and having a litter tray in close proximity to their food can cause distress.
Last but certainly not least, your cat should have the opportunity to regularly exercise and use their muscles, as well as being offered plenty of mental stimulation. Cat games can be a great way to get your pet to use their brain.
What calms a cat down?
What calms a cat down will differ based on each cat's personality and past experiences. Some cats respond well to play and attention from people, while others like to explore the great outdoors.
While all of the above may work for your pet, the first step to take in reducing anxiety and stress, is to ensure their home environment is as relaxing and secure as possible. Creating a cat calming environment can be achieved with a little planning, and your cat will thank you for a safe space to call their own.
Where do cats like to relax?
Cats feel most comfortable in small enclosed spaces that help them feel safe. It's pretty common to find our feline friends camping out under a bed, snoozing the day away in a laundry cupboard, or tucked away in the tiniest of boxes. Bear this in mind when it comes to creating a calming environment for your cat. The right resting spot will work wonders in reducing anxiety.
How do I make a calm cat environment? Six tips for creating a stress-free environment for your cat
When it comes to making a calm and stress-free environment for your cat, there are certain factors to consider. Where are they most relaxed and at ease in your home? What kind of noise level are they used to? Are they receiving enough attention and stimulation? Let's take a look at how these factors influence the creation of a calming environment for your pet...
Create a safe space
To create a safe space for your cat, you'll need to consider where they seem most comfortable. Noise and sudden movement can be upsetting to some pets, so their safe space should always be in a quiet area of the home. Place warm blankets on a pillow, cat bed or even in a box. If you live in a smaller space, choosing a spot at the edge of the room or in a corner may be sufficient. If there's the option, your cat would probably love a little room to call their own.
Offer a bed up high
Cats instinctually enjoy being up high, as any cat lover will know. This dates back to their ancestory, where being up high offered good visibility and helped protect themselves from any possible threat. Offering your cat a comfy resting spot up high will help them feel in control of their environment. They can watch the world go by without feeling anxious or stressed.
Make sure the litter tray is far away
As very clean animals, cats can become distressed and anxious if they're forced to toilet too near to their sleeping area. This can lead in inappropriate elimination and other stress signs, so making sure your cat's litter box is kept in a separate area will contribute to the creation of a calming environment.
Set up perches and cat furniture
The only thing cats love more than tiny spaces are perches. The use of perches and cat furniture offers your cat the option of physical and mental stimulation, as they work out how to jump and move from one space to another. Using both brain and body can really help reduce stress and anxiety.
Keep noise levels low
Sudden noises and lots of loud movement can be very upsetting for your feline friend. They may retreat to hide or try leaving the house, indicating they are not happy in the environment they're in. Keeping noise levels under control will make them feel calm and settled. If this isn't possible, you may want to consider some calming cat music which can be played in their safe space as they rest.
Consider your cat's diet
Perhaps one of the most overlooking considerations when it comes to creating a calming environment for your cat, is the diet that they are offered. Purina has found a strong link between gut health and anxiety and unwanted behaviours in pets, and feeding a high quality, nutrient rich diet, will go a long way in keeping your cat happy and healthy.
Every cat deserves a space that makes them feel calm and secure, and they can be prone to anxiety if their environment isn't right. It's important to identify stressors early on, taking steps to creating a calming space for your cat to enjoy.
In doing so, you'll benefit from the knowledge your beloved pet is happy and settled at home. For your feline friend, enjoying a stress-free environment will help them be more affectionate and playful in the long run.