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Kitty Stress in the Home

Cats can and DO get stressed…read on for the symptoms and the source!

Stress-related illness is not only a by-product of the dog-eat-dog business world. It’s also common in kitty world, even if that world is limited to the confines of home.

At the University of Edinburgh, scientists have determined that several stress factors can bring on illness in cats. A move to a new house or the introduction of a new family member can cause them to become anxious. But the most stressful situation is an altercation in kitty world—in other words, when cats within the household don’t get along.

Bladder problems can be an indication of kitty stress. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FUTD), which is actually a group of diseases, can apparently be brought on by stress. Veterinarians had been puzzled by FUTD, because there was no obvious reason for its onset. Another bladder disease, Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), had been shown in earlier studies to be set off by stress, so scientists were eager to isolate the conditions and situations that created the anxiety.

Their results were astounding, not only to them, but also to the pet owners that were involved in the study. May cat owners thought their cat’s fear of strangers was the most frequent problem, but the researchers reasoned that this was only a short-term source of stress.

The real problem seems to lie in conflicts and differences with another cat in the house. Kitty conflicts were found to be the prime reason for long-term household stress. Dr. Danielle Gunn-Moore of the University of Edinburgh Royal School of Veterinary Sciences stated, “We concluded that this is a significant factor in the development of FIC, and will be carrying out further studies to see how best this and other stress factors can be overcome.”

If your cat already suffers from FLUTD or FIC, Dr Gunn-Moore recommends the cat should eat wet food, and be encouraged to drink more water. However, much like horses, you can lead some cats to water, but you can’t make them drink! If this is the case with your cat, she recommends adding tuna-flavored ice cubes to their water, or offering water fountains as a source for their water.

(Note to pet owners – Always, ALWAYS consult your veterinarian about any of your animal’s health problems and obtain your veterinarian’s approval BEFORE trying any recommendations made by others.)

Whatever the cause of kitty stress, let’s hope the researchers at the University of Edinburgh can let us cat owners know how to avoid and eliminate the stress within our homes. Although many of us have been amused by the Big Time Kitty Wrestling matches that occur in play, an out-and-out nasty cat fight not only disturbs the cats’ well-being, but ours as well.

Let’s all hold a good thought for peace in the kitty world, for their sake and ours!

Sources: University of Edinburgh

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