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Understanding Cat Stress: Just What Is My Cat Thinking?

As humans, we do everything we possibly can to make sure our cat has a safe and comfortable home - but are our perceptions of what is happening the same as our cat’s? Do we really know what our sleek feline friend is thinking or feeling? It’s important that we can recognise when our cat is feeling super relaxed, playful, or even stressed.

Do you understand cat stress? There are many things that are challenging for a cat, but to humans these are often just normal activities that we encounter on a day to day basis. Although we don’t mean to, we might not be taking our cat’s feelings into consideration and, as a result, may be causing stress for our kitties.


Let’s look at some Cat vs Human Points of View from different households to see how they differ!

Cat vs. Human Points of View

Changes around the home:

Human POV:  I think that cupboard would look nice in that other corner.  If I move it, it would mean I could reach that shelf and put some nice photos and plants up there.  But I wonder why Bella (my cat) seems unsettled. It looks as though she has peed in that corner!

Cat’s POV (Bella):  Meow!  What have they done? They’ve moved that cupboard from my favourite spot. It was just in the right place and I could hide behind that big plant which was on top. It was also a great jumping station so that I could leap on to that shelf;  I like to have high up spots where I can go to feel safe. I do feel stressed when things aren’t where they should be - I don’t like changes! 

Changes in routine:

Human POV:  Thank goodness! Lockdown seems to be coming to an end. That means the kids can go back to school and we can go back to the office. Things look as if they might be nearly normal again!  It’s been quite difficult adjusting to being at home all the time, but Cherry, our cat, seems to have taken it all in her stride.

Cat’s POV (Cherry):  What a difficult time lockdown has been for us cats too... Before this horrid virus struck, I was very content with my life; I had a lovely daily routine and then it all changed! Everyone had to stay at home and it did change my life, though my humans obviously were not aware of how it affected me.  

Did you know that in a recent study, 20% of owners felt that lockdown had been stressful for their cats? Fortunately, though some very thoughtful humans used FELIWAY and 70% said it helped their cats during lockdown.

As a happy cat, I am glad to say that my human has recently become one of those who use FELIWAY, after they read about how lockdown has been difficult for cats! And I have to say, I do feel much more calm when I’m in the same room as my FELIWAY Optimum diffuser!

A new cat in the home:

Human POV:  We love our cat so much, we’ve decided we will adopt another one!  Our lovely resident cat, Lunar, could do with someone to play with.

Cat’s POV (Lunar):  What?  Do I hear another cat in the house? What’s going on - this is my territory and I don’t like sharing it with other cats! My kitty friend who lives next door, Tabatha, did not like it when her humans brought a new cat home. She spent a lot of time hissing at Twiggy (their new cat) and hiding at the top of the cat tree - where the new kitty couldn’t reach and there was a lot of urine spraying going on while they were getting used to each other.  

understanding cat stress

I’ll try to get on with the new cat, but I hope my humans make sure that the new bundle of fluff has its own bed, and it’s own toys and bowls. That cat has got to learn who's the top cat around here!  But I notice there’s a new diffuser in the room - FELIWAY Optimum - and I’m already feeling much more serene! Maybe it won’t be so bad after all!

People visiting

Human POV: I’m really looking forward to my family and friends visiting us soon but I hope my feline friend is going to be more friendly this time. The last time we had visitors, Frank just disappeared into the bedroom upstairs and didn’t come back until everyone had gone! It’s very strange because my friends are cat lovers themselves and would love to stroke and make a fuss of Frank.

Cat’s POV (Frank):  I remember the last time when my human’s friends visited - they were very nice (I suppose) but they would insist on picking me up and holding me tight. I find that quite threatening so that’s why I don’t like visitors. This time I’m not taking any chances and I will disappear under the bed for a while when I hear them arrive.  

People should realise that us cats like to be making the decisions about interacting with you! If people ignore me, I might wander over to them to investigate and even rub myself along their leg, leaving my scent on them. I quite like a head or a chin rub, but if I don’t ask for more please leave me be. And let me stay on the ground - if I want to sit on someone I’ll jump up and find my own position thanks! Think about using Feliway Optimum to help your kitty feel more relaxed and serene when there are visitors as we can find new situations a bit stressful.

Unexpected Noises:

Human POV:  I can’t understand why Cherry scoots away when I’m doing the washing. One minute she’s hiding in the laundry basket and the next minute she’s shot upstairs and under the bed!  

Cat’s POV (Cherry):  Although the laundry basket is usually a nice quiet spot, sometimes I think my human forgets that we have super sensitive hearing! Whenever I see them sorting out the whites from the colors I know what’s coming - she’s going to put the washer on and it’s going to be very noisy, so I’m off to find another hiding spot where I can’t hear the noise!  

It’s the same on fireworks night; there are so many different bangs and flashes and bright lights and I don't know where they are coming from next. My human is particularly thoughtful on fireworks night though, and she gets me prepared for the noise by closing all the doors and curtains and she turns the TV volume up a bit so that the noise is masked. My human uses FELIWAY Optimum too and it really helps me feel more relaxed and serene.

Understanding Cat Stress

understanding cat stress

It can sometimes be difficult to understand what causes cat stress as we do whatever we can to ensure they enjoy their life and are happy in their kitty world.  

Sometimes their stress is misunderstood and we might think they are just being naughty (like when they pee or spray in the house) but there is usually a reason for this type of behavior. Understanding cat stress and what they are thinking, by being able to read their  body language will help, as will ensuring we provide all the resources our cats need to make them feel safe and relaxed in their surroundings.  

To minimise stressful situations for your cat, create a routine, understand what triggers their stress and make sure you try and address the situation. If you’ve spotted signs of kitty stress, try plugging in FELIWAY Optimum in the room where your kitty spends most of their time as this will help them feel more serene and comfortable; with 93% of cat lovers observing enhanced serenity, FELIWAY Optimum is veterinary recommended, and the best solution to help solve all common signs of cat stress.

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