Ask Ms. Kitty: Stop kitty stress with natural solutions
Dear Ms. Kitty,
We got a new couch for Christmas. When we moved out the old one, our cat Rosco was not happy and peed on the new sofa. What can we do?
Steamed in Steamboat
Many situations can stress your feline friend. Anything from people coming to your home or remodeling a room can quickly increase the stress your cat feels. Like you found, even rearranging furniture can be a doozy in the world of cat stress.
Cats, big and small, are territorial beings. Most of us have seen the big cat programs on TV that show a lion marking the perimeter of his territory. He sprays urine, scratches trees, and shuffles his back feet on the ground all to mark his territory.
Your lion in cat clothing feels the same need to have safe space that he calls his own. Scratching the cat tree and rubbing the side of his face on you are ways that he marks territory.
If Rosco is stressed in his environment, his marking can become destructive. Scratching inappropriately, urine spraying, and even defecating out of the box are signals that he doesn’t feel safe in his territory.
A professional feline behaviorist can determine why Rosco is exhibiting unwanted behaviors and whether they are medical issues or behavioral. Medical issues will be referred to your vet.
To resolve any behavior issues, the behaviorist puts a plan together and will likely use one or more natural remedies. These are all easy to use and safe for Roscoe.
Cats use pheromones, which are equivalent to human hormones, when they rub on you or an object. Feliway is a product that mimics feline pheromones and can assist in reducing inappropriate behaviors. It comes in a spray, plug-in atomizer, and wipes.
Use Feliway at entry points to Rosco’s territory such as doors and windows if he is worried about outside cats or people visiting your home.
Feliway can also lessen the stress caused by vet visits, thunderstorms, and many other circumstances.
Calming collars have become extremely popular. If Rosco will tolerate the collar, it can help him feel less anxiety in his territory.
Collars are designed to last about a month. There are many different brands, and even different solutions in the collars. Some contain essential oils such as lavender and chamomile. Others have simulated pheromones.
Be aware, the collars are not safety collars and will not expand if your cat gets caught on something. They aren’t recommended for kittens, very active cats, and outdoor cats.
These natural remedies have been used for decades by pet behavior professionals. They are easy to apply and are effective for reducing anxiety and stopping inappropriate behaviors.
The most well-known of these is Rescue Remedy which is recommended for significant short-term stress such as vet visits or owner travel. It’s great for people too!
Jackson Galaxy, from Animal Planet’s TV show, My Cat from Hell, also has a line of flower essences that help with everything from bullying to inappropriate scratching and missing the litter box.
AnimalEO is a line of essential oils created by a veterinarian. They are effective and safe when used as directed.
Anxiety as well as some physical ailments can be improved with the right essential oils. Calm-a-Mile and KittyBoost are popular animalEO blends used to reduce stress, and might be helpful for Rosco.
Some of the animalEO products can be diffused and some cannot, so always read the directions carefully!
For best results with natural solutions, work with a professional feline behaviorist or a veterinarian who uses the specific remedy in her practice.
Carole Galloway is the owner of Colorado CATS, a luxury cat-only boarding facility in Colorado Springs since 1995. Carole has cared for thousands of cats over the years and has worked as a professional Cat Behavior Consultant for the past 15 years.