When most of us think of a stressed out cat, a vision probably springs to mind of poor old Tom in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, being chased by Spike the dog...
In reality, cat stress often manifests in much more subtle ways and is caused by things that on first glance we would consider to be very minor - or wouldn't consider at all.
Its cause is often so subtle that it's commonly mistakenly interpreted by owners as just pure and simple bad cat behavior.
As a result, it ends up not being dealt with correctly, so a vicious circle develops with the relationship between owner and Kitty breaking down completely.
This page describes the ways in which that stress may show itself, lists the things that can cause cat stress and suggests ways to deal with it.
You'll notice a number of the things in the above list are often considered to be "bad" behavior. The others are physical symptoms which come about as a result of prolonged high stress levels.
For example, Kitty may lose his appetite or start having sickness / diarrhea (as many humans under prolonged stress do).
A stressed cat may also start getting more infections than normal because prolonged, high stress suppresses the immune system (just like humans!)
Basically, cats are creatures of habit and don't like change - with "change" being defined as anything they perceive as a major upheaval to their daily life and routine.
Some breeds - e.g. the Persian - are more adaptable and accepting of change, but in general...
Cat + Change = BAD News
Here's a list of circumstances that commonly cause stress in cats.
This list isn't exhaustive by any means but it will hopefully give an idea of the types of circumstances that may result in a stressed out cat:
In a nutshell, a stressed Kitty needs reassurance. He needs to know that he's loved and wanted. The more positive attention and praise you can give him, the better.
But I fully appreciate that if you've got a new job, baby, home etc. and you're trying to sort out a million and one things, Kitty can't always come first.
That's where Feliway may help. Feliway has a calming effect on many cats, and can be a very useful aid when dealing with a stressed out cat.
Click here for more information on Feliway.