Tag Archives: stress

Festive season for pets?

Spare a thought over the festive season for our pets.  Christmas is a fun time of year for humans but it disrupts our animals’ lives, causing stress and untoward changes in their behaviour.

Potential sources of stress include:

  • Car travel
  • Boarding
  • Visitors to their home
  • Parties and increased noise in the neighbourhood
  • Fireworks
  • Changes in routine
  • Visits to unfamiliar environments such as a holiday house or extended family

Many pets become anxious under these stresses. Their behaviour changes to cope with the stresses. These behavioural changes are usually temporary but occasionally turn into long-term, serious problems.

How can we reduce our pets’ anxiety this Christmas?

Reassure your pets in unfamiliar circumstances by allowing them to stay close to you and spending as much time with them as possible. If you have to leave them, give them something familiar like bedding or your shirt.

Provide a comfortable safe hidey hole with lots of fun things to do if visitors are expected or you are planning a party. Long lasting treats like stuffed Kongs and chew toys keep dogs engrossed and happy.

Avoid confronting a dog with anyone they fear. Children or big men frighten some dogs.

Don’t punish a frightened dog or make it face up to its fear. This usually makes an already tense dog more anxious.

Try not to initiate any more fears in your pet. A house suddenly full of noisy party-goers and no secure place to hide will make a timid dog frightened of more people.

Pheromones, naturally produced communicators, reduce anxiety significantly in many pets.   ADAPTIL® (containing Dog Appeasing Pheromone) and Feliway® (containing a calming cat pheromone) are synthetic copies of the animals’ own natural pheromones. They reduce behaviour changes resulting from stress or anxiety.

Feliway replicates the feline facial pheromone that cats rub around their environment so they feel relaxed and at home.

ADAPTIL (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) replicates the pheromone the dam releases when suckling her puppies. It reassures dogs of any age, reducing anxiety and preventing fear and stress related behaviours.

If behaviour resulting from fear and anxiety is out of proportion to what is happening or causes long lasting problems then schedule an appointment with one of our vets. They will work through a programme of retraining or behaviour modification in conjunction with a prescription drug, appropriate for your pet.


Visiting the vet with your cat?

Veterinary visits don’t have to be stressful for you or your cat. Happy visits to the vet start well before the big day. Ideally we should acclimatise our cats to carriers and cars while they are still kittens.

How can we minimise these stresses here and now though?

  1. Ask reception to book you at a quiet time or when no dogs are around if possible
  2.    Socialise cats to the carrier and car:
    • Leave the carrier out permanently in your home.  Many cats will use it as a comfortable resting or hiding place or play around it, particularly if it has been about since they were kittens
    • Withhold food before travel to prevent travel sickness and consequent negative feelings about car rides
    • Short practice rides in the car followed by a good experience such as a favourite food help some cats to relax about cars
  3. Apply Feliway spray to bedding in the carrier regularly and just before transport. Feliway contains a natural pheromone that relaxes cats.  Familiar clothing from a favourite person before a visit or hospital stay may also calm your cat
  4. Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket or place one over the cat in the carrier so that she can hide if she needs to
  5. In the waiting room place the carrier up off the ground on a seat or bench and well away from dogs

Bored Cat Syndrome

Keeping cats indoors increases their life spans because they don’t become victims of cars, other animals, diseases or thievery. Unfortunately many cats are left alone without stimulation or a feline friend while their human companions are at work and school. Some of these cats develop behaviour problems or stress illnesses while others become dangerously obese from lack of exercise. Most of these latchkey cats suffer from Bored Cat Syndrome!

It is impossible for most people to stay home and entertain their cats all day. Enrich the home environment and give cats choices to avoid Bored Cat Syndrome:

  • Stabilise cat trees with lots of shelves by adding a larger base or fastening the tree to a wall or the ceiling. Position one next to a secure window and hang a bird feeder outside the window to maximize cat fun while preserving birds’ lives.
  • Carpeted shelving around walls at different heights give cats lots of opportunity for exercise and contemplation of their home comforts. Many access points to the shelves give cats choices and prevent them from being cornered without an escape route.
  • Wide window perches allow cats to scope out the neighborhood from the safety of their homes.

Fight obesity and stimulate your cat by making your cat work for his food:

  • Treat balls or shapes packed with healthy treats or dry food provide hours of chasing and playing fun. Make a puzzle out of a cardboard box with two to three holes in each side, just big enough for a paw to reach in for biscuits, but not big enough for a head to be caught in.
  • Play hide and seek with treats or dry food. Scatter them behind sofas, up cat trees or on shelves while your cat is otherwise engaged.
  • Many cats enjoy exercise wheels like these kitty treadmills

Other ways remedies for bored cats:

  • Videos made for cats keep them occupied and stimulated when they are left alone. Video Catnip and The Cat Sitter feature the sights and sounds of birds, fish, mice and other animals. Some cats are fascinated by these videos; others give a passing glance and continue with their own agendas.
  • Television talk shows or home and garden shows keep some cats fascinated
  • Some cats love to play in running water like the Drinkwell Pet, available from Hall Veterinary Surgery.
  • Many cats enjoy the company of other cats. Consider both cats’ personalities before bringing a newcomer into the house. Some cats do not adjust to another cat in the household. Proper introductions can take months even when two cats are well suited.