Stressful Situations for Cats
Changes in the environment
Any change in your cat's environment may cause stress.Moving into a new house can be particularly stressful for cats. Here, your cat is placed in a totally new environment. Even small changes which may be unnoticeable to you can be very stressful for your cat. Moving old furniture, redecorating or even buying new furniture can all interfere with the marks left by your cat.
Changes in the people living in the household can also be a potential source of stress for your cat. Friends visiting, a new baby or a new pet (dog, cat etc..) can all cause distress.
In a multicat household, cats are forced to share their territory. This is an uncommon behavior for cats which are not naturally inclined to develop social interaction.
Sharing their territory means losing control of resources, which is a fundamental need for cats. For example, cats living together often have their food bowls in the same location. If one cat doesn’t want to come into contact with another individual, he may be forced to wait until the other cat has eaten.
As a result, both cats may eat quickly or change the amount they eat at one time. In some instances, a cat may not feel comfortable enough to approach the feed bowl at all and may go hungry or over-eat to prevent the other from eating 'his' food.
A similar situation may be seen around the litter box. During the elimination process, cats need privacy. Most will not feel comfortable enough to use a litter box in a room where other cats can enter at any time. They do not want to be surprised by the other cat(s) in the elimination area. Consequently, they visit the litter box as infrequently as possible and eliminate as quickly as they can, thus leading to inappropriate elimination (house-soiling) or potential medical conditions.
Both Hospitalization and returning home can cause the cat considerable distress. During a stay at the veterinary practice, cats are required to stay in a cage, are often unable to hide and are manipulated and restrained by strangers and forced to share an environment with many other pets, including dogs.
In addition to dealing with the stressful new environment, the cat may be in pain or not feel well which adds to the distress.
Once the cat returns home, things may not improve. While the cat has been at the vet clinic, his reassuring marks may have disappeared from the walls and furniture and/or been replaced by those of the other cats. As a result, when he comes back home, even if the cat “visually” recognizes his territory, without the facial marks, he will feel lost. Similarly, other cats in the household may not 'recognize' him, as he may smell and/or look different (due to bandages, shaving, Elizabethan collar, etc….)