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5 Tips for Calming a Stressed Cat

Cats find change jarring, and any upsets in their routine can cause major stress. Here's how to help.

 |  Jan 15th 2013  |   14 Contributions


Cats are creatures of routine. Once they get used to a home and its rhythms, changes can get them upset. The same thing goes for times when the people they love are going through physical or emotional turmoil. You can help your cat get through trying days, and maybe help yourself in the process, by following these five tips for calming a stressed cat. Please note that these tips are not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care or common sense.

Interactive play sessions can be relaxing for both you and your cat. Kitten playing by Shutterstock

1. Play with him

A good play session can reduce tension and get the “happy cat” hormones flowing. It can also reassure your furry friend that things are going to be okay -- and it could help you to relax, too.

2. Use a pheromone diffuser

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that opinions on the effectiveness of this product, marketed under the name Feliway Comfort Zone, vary wildly. I have successfully used it with my cats, and the vets and shelters I’ve worked with have used the diffusers in their facilities as well. Feliway also comes in a spray form.

3. Leave music playing

Soft music with a slow rhythm can help relax your cat. Some people recommend classical music, but New Age music -- and even country or adult contemporary radio, played at a low volume -- can be soothing. My cats particularly like Faith & the Muse and Krishna Das.

Um, I'm not into this petting session as much as you are. Woman relaxing with her cat by Shutterstock

4. Spend some quality time together

As many times as possible each day, make time to sit quietly with your cat and give him the kind of affection he likes best. Whether that’s a nice brushing, gentle ear-rubs, hugs, letting him curl up with you while you sit quietly, or just a standard petting, the reassurance of your touch will help him feel better.

5. Try Bach Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is an essence composed of extracts of several flowers preserved in alcohol. It’s designed to ease the stress of physical or mental trauma. If you use this product, rub one drop on the fur on your cat's head -- do not give it to him by mouth! Although I can’t offer any scientific proof that it works, I and many others can offer anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness. Rescue Remedy also comes in a non-alcoholic formula.

Do you have any other tips for helping to calm a stressed-out cat? Please share them in the comments.

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