How To Calm Your Cat In 5 Easy Steps

Wondering how to calm your kitty? Here we’ll explain how to calm a cat.

How To Calm Your Cat

We’ll start by discussing some of the signs that indicate that your cat is under stress or anxious. We will then highlight a few of the reasons that cause your cat to be in this state before explaining how can calm your cat. Here’s are a few ways you can calm your cat:

  • Identify the problem
  • Use pheromones
  • Incorporate some playtime
  • Invest in non-medication calming aids
  • Use short-term medications

How to Tell that Your Cat is Restless

  • Excessive shedding
  • Excessive grooming
  • Position of the tail
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Hiding
  • Aggression
  • Vocalization
  • Heavy breathing

Coming from a highly independent and solitary species, our feline friends can be particularly good at hiding signs that they’re restless. Originally, showing any signs of weakness would have made them the perfect targets for predators.

As such, they’ll always try to hide their stress, anxiety and anger. But there are a couple of things that will indicate that something is a miss. These are:

Excessive Shedding

One of the things that your cat will do when they feel aggravated is that they’ll shed excessively. When placed in a stressful situation, they react by tensing their muscles. The problem with is that hair follicles are attached to some of these muscles. So whenever the muscles contract, their hairs (which are known as telogen hairs) are shed.

Excessive Grooming

A good reason why some pet owners prefer keeping cats to dogs is the fact that the former are constantly grooming themselves. Not only does this help them stay clean but it also keeps pests at bay. However, if they’re grooming themselves more frequently than they usually do, this could be a sign of restlessness, anger or anxiety.

This will entail activities such as licking, scratching and biting themselves. In as much as grooming keeps your cat clean, overdoing it can have unpleasant effects like skin irritations and infections. Thus, it’s important that you determine the cause of their over-grooming habit.

Position of the Tail

The most common functions of a cat’s tail entail keeping them balanced and helping them maintain their center of gravity. What many cat owners don’t know is that they’re also indicators of a cat’s emotions and intentions.

Angry calico cat lying on edge of bed wagging tail

In fact, a majority of cats will hold their tails in low positions and flick them rapidly back and forth whenever they’re anxious or in distress.

Gastrointestinal Issues

If your cat is having a gastrointestinal upset, you might suspect that it’s as a result of something they’ve eaten. While this is the case most of the time, there could be other causes such as stress and anxiety.

Common symptoms of this condition include nausea, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. Be sure to consult a veterinarian and get your cat examined. This professional will be able to rule out medical reasons as the cause of their gastrointestinal problems.

Hiding

If your cat is feeling stressed or anxious, they may start isolating themselves or retreating to an environment where they feel safer.

The reason why they do this is because they consider their current environment as the primary source of their stress. If you find your cat hiding under the bed, behind the sofa or in the bathtub, this could be a sign that they’re upset, aggravated or stressed.

Aggression

While some cats hide away, others react by becoming aggressive both towards other pets and their human companions. They will start showing their razor sharp teeth and using their claws to scare people and animals away.

If your cat starts displaying misdirected aggression, this could signal that they feel threatened, frightened, anxious or stressed.

Vocalization

Another way in which cats express their emotions is by vocalizing. They can do this in different forms ranging from growling to meowing or hissing by using high-pitched tones. If you notice your feline vocalizing in a strange way, it’s best to avoid interacting with them until they calm down.

Heavy Breathing

If your cat is very stressed or anxious, they may express these emotions through their respiratory activity. To be specific, they will experience an increase in their heart rate and pulse.

During such situations, their bodies are outwardly showing signs of stress or anxiety, which the cats are experiencing internally. Ideally, a cat should make 20 to 30 breaths per minute. If you notice that they’re breathing heavily and faster, this coud signal that they’re experiencing high levels of stress.

Reasons Why Your Cat is Restless

  • Inadeqaute resources
  • Moving
  • Addition of pets
  • Unfamiliar pets invading the home
  • Changes in routine

Every cat is special, meaning they have traits that are only unique to them. Some are very laid back and calm. Others, however, are overly sensitive to changes and this can trigger stress. The following are the events that can cause your furball to become stressed:

Inadeqaute Resources

There are a couple of things that your cat needs if they’re to live a happy and healthy life. These include quality food, water, shelter, a litter box, toys just to mention a few. If your cat does not get any of these requirements, this can make them quite restless.

In addition to the quantity of these resources, you should also pay attention to their quality, type and location. As an example, if your cat is hesitant to use the litter box, it could be because it’s located in an open space.

Relocation

Whether you’ve just adopted your cat and they’re being introduced to your residence for the first time or you’ve relocated to a different place with your existing pet, this can trigger stress and anxiety.

Cat so cute sitting inside a car wait for travel

Often, cats prefer to live in a setting that they’re familiar with. This makes them feel safe from predators and other risks found in the external environment. So if you suddenly take them to a foreign environment, they can feel threatened, anxious or scared.

If you’re relocating and anticipate that this situation will affect your cat negatively, it might be better to leave them with a friend or neighbor in the familiar environment. Gradually, you can introduce them to the new setting.

Addition of Pets

While this may seem like a pretty harmless deed, adding a new pet to your home can cause an insurmountable amount of stress on your residence cat. In fact, both the cat that’s being introduced to a new surrounding, and the resident cat that’s been living at that home, can experience stress and restlessness.

For the new pet, they may become anxious because they’re being introduced to an unfamiliar environment filled with new individuals and pets. Even the bravest cat can feel a little anxious because of such unfamiliarity.

On the part of the resident cat, they may experience stress due to the abrupt introduction of a new pet. They may feel like they’re no longer in control and can’t access certain resources as readily as they used to.

To keep your resident cat as calm as possible, it’s important that you  maintain her routine. Also, ensure that there are enough resources for both cats. This way, neither cat will have to get aggressive or feel stressed because they can’t access a particular resource.

Unfamiliar Pets Invading the Home

This can really stress your resident cat if it happens multiple times. The worst bit is that the stray cats may intrude your home when you least expect or when you’re not around. For instance, the foreign cats may come into your home late in the wee hours of the night and when you’re at work.

This can make it really difficult to identify the source of your feline’s stress and restlessness. If you suspect that there are stray cats invading your home, you should look for the entry points they use. Do they get in through that window that you always leave open? Or perhaps they get in through the cat flap?

The remedy to this problem is to ensure you seal all the entry points that the foreign cats could be using. If you want to get a cat flap, invest in one that’s microchip-driven. This way, only your pet who has the corresponding microchip will be able to access your home.

Changes in Routine

As we mentioned earlier, some cats are highly sensitive to changes. So if you make even the slightest adjustment to their routine, they may respond by becoming aggressive, anxious or angry. Common changes to their routine that may cause your feline to be restless are:

  • If you start leaving them for a longer period

If you intend to leave your cat alone for longer than usual, ensure you provide an enriched and interesting indoor environment that will keep them stimulated for that long. This will prevent them from becoming bored, frustrated and stressed.

  • Being at home longer

Similarly, if you’ve started staying home for longer, you might want to provide them with a quiet space where they can retreat to whenever they want.

How to Approach an Agitated Cat

  • Assess the situation and determine whether it’s safe
  • Use a calm voice
  • Use treats or toys to lure the cat towards you
  • Take the cat to an isolated space

Consider Your and Your Cat’s Safety

For starters, you should assess the situation and determine if it’s safe for to approach your pet. If they’ve been acting aggressively, it might not be a good idea to do so as they may end up scratching you.

Often, cats that are agitated are best left alone instead of trying to pick or pet them. Their displaced aggression can cause them to attack anyone if they’re provoked, and that includes their owner.

That said, there are instances where you really have to approach your cat. For instance, if you’re planning to take them to the vet. If you have to, ensure you approach them gently and carefully. Advisably, you should be wearing a shirt or blouse with long sleeves and a pair of pants. You should also be holding a towel in the event that you need to catch your cat.

Man in red plaid tartan shirt holding an arrogant ginger cat.

Use a Calm Voice

Whenever you’re speaking to your cat, use a calm tone. Next, sit quietly close by as you wait for them to calm down. Singing is also a nice way to help your feline buddy relax. Don’t worry, you don’t need to have a singing voice to achieve this. If you’re not into singing, you can also play something softly on the woofer or television.

Lure the Cat Towards You

The next thing you need to do is lure the cat towards you. You can lure them with treats or their favorite toys. Keep in mind that felines prefer wet to dry food and that meats that have a strong smell (like fish) are likely to work better than those that don’t.

Also, if your cat has a climbing tree with a sleeping area at the top, you can place the food at that section. Usually, cats like to climb to an elevated point where they will have the vantage point and feel more secure.

Take the Cat to an Isolated Space

If your cat is still aggravated after attempting to calm them down, it might be a good idea to move them to an isolated room. For some cats, the best way to calm them down is to move them to an area where they’re all alone so they don’t feel threatened by elements in their environment.

Ensure you seal any access to that space. For instance, if there are open blinds, drapes or windows, close them. Also, restrict kids and other pets from accessing that area. The aim of doing this is to give your feline buddy ample space so they can relax.

Ways to Calm Your Cat Down

  • Identify the problem
  • Use pheromones
  • Incorporate some playtime
  • Invest in non-medication calming aids
  • Use short-term medications

Identify the Problem

Before you start taking any extreme measures, you should figure out what’s causing your furball to be in the state they are in- be it overly excited, anxious or just restless. Did they get startled by something in their environment? Or are they over-reacting because there’s a new pet at home? By narrowing down the cause of the problem, it will be a lot easier to find the right solution.

Incorporate some Playtime

As is the case with dogs, our feline friends also need an outlet to expend their energy. If they don’t get viable ways of utilizing their energy, they may engage in problematic behavior.

To prevent this, consider scheduling some playtime for them, especially during the day. Get them cat-friendly toys like a climbing post or activity center. You can also look for food-dispensing toys as this helps them to exercise their hunting instincts.

Use Pheromones

This refers to chemicals released by felines through the glands on their body- face, back, feet and tail- for the purpose of communicating with their fellow cats.

According to WebMD, certain pheromones are beneficial in calming stressed cats. Thus, scientists have come up with a way of synthesizing these chemicals, and they’re now available in different forms including collars, wipes, sprays and plug-in diffusers.

Invest in Non-Medication Calming Aids

If you don’t fancy pheromone products, there are a couple of non-medicated solutions available. Researchers have discovered that essential oils and herbal blends have the same effect as pheromones, meaning they can be used in their place.

Alternatively, you can look for cat-specific food supplements that are used to relieve anxiety and stress in felines. The way these supplements work is that they’re formulated with ingredients, which facilitate their natural chemical balance; hence helping them to relax. These come in different forms such as liquid, tablet and chewables.

Short-term Medications

If your cat is the type that’s prone to excess anxiety from trivial things, short-term medications can help with that. For instance, if your cat becomes overly anxious or stressed just because there are guests visiting your home or due to a short trip to the vet, some medications can help them stay relaxed in these events.

That said, you should only give your cat these medications if they’ve been examined and the veterinarian has prescribed such medicine. In other words, these are not over-the-counter drugs that you can get your cat without proper prescription.

Another point to note is that different cats will respond differently to these medications. As a result, most veterinarians recommend starting slow. You can administer the medicine to your cat at home as a trial to see how they react.

Also remember that certain medications ought to be administered at least an hour before the event. So if your cat gets anxious from being carried in the car, give them the medication an hour before your planned departure.

Final Word

Calming down your cat can be difficult, especially if they’re being aggressive. Thus, the best way to go about this is to first determine why they’re aggravated. Is it because you’ve introduced  a new pet? Or perhaps there are stray cats that keep entering your home when you’re not around.

Depending on the cause of their misplaced aggression or anger, you can respond by isolating them. If you’re making a major change to their lives or routines, give them time to adjust and introduce these changes gradually. You can also resort to pheromone products like collars; food supplements, and short-term medications.

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