Cats don't always understand the changes they experience in their lives. Thunderstorms come and go, the seasons change, schedules change...all of these "life changes" can really stress kitty! Here are some events in and around the home and some suggestions for reducing your cat's stress.
When your daily schedule changes, the cat's schedule also changes. Disruptions in your cat's daily routine can be very upsetting for her. Try to keep the cat's daily schedule as normal as possible. When changes are unavoidable, increase the amount of playtime interaction or petting and grooming your cat receives to help reassure her.
It may be helpful to establish two or more 10 minute play times during the day. If the cat will be alone for extended periods, you can ask a friend or relative who the cat is familiar with visit while you are out.
As the seasons change the things your cat sees outside the window change. Birds come and go, insects buzz around, small mammals dart around, and leaves fall. The view out the window is like TV for your cat. Place perches by more than one window so that she can "change channels". In the winter time, when there is less to see, you can help entertain your cat indoors. Set up a fish tank for the cat to look at or buy a "kitty video" that features frolicking birds and small rodents.
Construction Occurring Outside the Home
Noise and commotion occurring outside your home and in your neighborhood can be frightening for your cat. Street repairs, utility work and even backyard construction can generate enough noise to cause fear and anxiety for cats. Provide your cat with a refuge. Always leave a radio or TV playing in or near the refuge to provide calming "white noise" that muffles the sound of construction.
A perch may be placed in an area of the home where outside sounds don't penetrate as loudly. Make the perch more attractive by rubbing catnip on it or leaving treats nearby.
Some cats are very fearful of the noise made by thunder and lightening storms. Make sure your cat has access to her refuge when it is storming outside. Play a radio or TV to help cover the noise of the storm. Provide hiding areas that will allow the cat to escape the sound. For example, leave a closet ajar so the cat can hide inside. If you are home during the storm, sit with the cat. Try to engage the cat in play to distract her. Reward her with treats and praise to help create a more pleasant association with storms.
Cats that are extremely agitated or wild during storms may need to be confined to a small space such as a cat carrier or bathroom. If your cat fits into this group ask your veterinarian about medication that can help.
Your cat's refuge is her best friend during the holidays. Holidays bring many changes to the cat's environment such as guests, changes in owners' schedules, new "furniture" such as holiday decorations and Christmas trees, and moving existing furniture to accommodate decorations. These types of change in her daily routine may be a source of stress for your cat. A refuge will help her feel safe and provide a place for her to retreat to when household activities are hectic. Make sure that your guests respect the privacy of your cat’s refuge.