No bills, no responsibilities, endless hours spent batting toys beneath the furniture, napping in soft sherpa beds and watching birds flit around the feeder outside the living room window.
From a human perspective, the life of a pampered house cat looks pretty sweet. So it can be startling to learn that our cats’ lives might not be as stress-free as we imagine.
Everything from our household cleaning habits to the way we interact with our feline companions can be a source of anxiety for them.
While “one stressor may not mean a lot, a bunch stacked up can make for a very unhappy cat,” says Danielle Bays, senior analyst for cat protection and policy at the Humane Society of the United States. And since cats lack the facial expressiveness of dogs and tend to display their likes and dislikes in subtle ways, it’s easy to miss the clues.
“Cats can be silent sufferers,” says Mikel Delgado, founder of Feline Minds Cat Behavior Consulting. “They can hide their stress until it kind of explodes into something that’s obvious to people.” So if their humans “don’t recognize the subtle signs of stress,” she adds, “well, they definitely recognize when their cat pees on their bed. But sometimes there have been signs all along.”
Along with triggering problem behaviors, chronic stress affects your cat’s quality of life and can even lead to illness. The good news is that simple changes can go a long way to making your pet’s life as carefree as you always imagined it to be.