Is Your Cat Stressed Out? Here’s How to Tell and How to Help

Is Your Cat Stressed Out? Here’s How to Tell and How to Help


By Ben Team

It may be hard to imagine your cat is stressed as you watch her laze about all day, moving from one comfy napping position to the next. But your feline friend is certainly susceptible to stress.

Because stress can inhibit immune function and increase the chances of your cat suffering a serious illness, it is important to regularly take stock of your cat’s mental and emotional well-being. But, how?

Fortunately, and despite their often secretive ways, cats can exhibit several signs of stress.

5 Signs Your Cat is Stressed

Symptoms of a stressed-out cat can manifest in a variety of ways, but you should keep an eye out for the following five signs:

1. Elimination Issues

As with humans, stress can cause digestive difficulties for cats. This may manifest as constipation, but diarrhea is more common among stressed-out felines. You may also notice that your normally litter-box-trained cat begins pooping or peeing in inappropriate places.

2. Excessive Grooming

Healthy cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, but stressed cats often do so excessively. Their constant licking and biting may even create bald spots in their coat. Hair loss can occur anywhere, but it is most common on the belly, tail base and legs.

3. Social Changes

Some cats are loners who like to keep to themselves, but others love to spend time snuggling with their humans and hanging out in their company. It doesn’t matter which end of this social spectrum your cat falls on — you’ll want to be alert for drastic changes in their behavior, as they can indicate high stress levels.

4. Changes in Appetite

Appetite changes are a common sign of stress across the animal kingdom. Most stressed animals begin eating less while under stress, but others may cope by eating more than usual. The tricky part is determining whether your cat is exhibiting a bona fide change in appetite or simply being finicky.

5. Aggression

Many cats become aggressive when suffering from stress. Aggression is often easy to recognize — it doesn’t take a degree in veterinary medicine to know that your hissing, teeth-baring cat wants to be left alone. But your cat may also display subtle signs of aggression, such as flattened whiskers, dilated pupils and a tucked tail.

Causes of Stress in Cats

Upon noticing symptoms of stress, you’ll want to do whatever you can to eliminate the cause of your cat’s discomfort. There are as many potential sources of feline stress as there are individual cats in the world, but there are a few common causes that you should consider.

Inadequate Food, Space or Some Other Resource

As with any animal, cats who don’t have the resources they need may experience stress. Food and space are two common resources in high demand (particularly in multi-cat households), but your cat may also be unhappy about sharing a litter box, scratching post or perch with her fellow felines.

Changes in the Home or Daily Routine

Many cats crave routine, so disruptions to your daily life may trigger stress. Your cat may not, for example, appreciate your new houseguests. She may also find your new or rearranged furniture unsettling.

Insufficient Stimulation

Cats need plenty of mental and physical stimulation; deprived of things that’ll keep their brains and bodies busy, they may begin to suffer from stress. This is part of the reason it is important to provide cats with plenty of toys and other forms of stimulation.

Can Cat Calming Treats Help Ease Your Pet’s Stress?

In some cases, addressing the source of your cat’s stress will help her feel better. But that’s not always sufficient. If your cat still seems stressed after addressing any of the points above, you may consider giving her natural calming products that contain CBD.

CBD – short for “cannabidiol” – is a component of the hemp plant. When administered to pets, it may help keep them calm and relaxed and support a normal emotional balance. It may also help address some of the symptoms of stress your cat is exhibiting. 

If you suspect that you have a stressed cat on your hands, consult with your vet and then consider introducing high-quality CBD products to her routine. Heelr offers an assortment of CBD tinctures and chews for cats (and dogs, too!), so you’re sure to find one that’ll work for your feline friend. Go check them out! 

Ben Team is a lifelong environmental educator and animal-care professional, who now writes about animals, outdoor recreation and the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a spoiled-rotten rottweiler who is probably begging him to go to the park at this very moment.


The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 

Cornell Feline Health Center

Boulder Holistic Vet

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