top of page

FELINE LADDER OF ANXIETY:

How a cat reacts to stress or a threat

TERRIFIED CAT

Curls into a tight ball, with tail and paws tucked in tightly beneath her to make herself as small as possible. Ears pinned back and eyes wide open. Will growl when approached and might lose bowel control.

Terrified cat.png

FEARFUL CAT

Will puff up all his fur, with body held sideways, back arched, head turned and looking sideways at treat. Fully pilo-erected tail held in inverted L position, ears held flat to side or pinned back. Slow movements, with some hissing, spitting and growling.

Fearful cat.png

AGGRESSIVE CAT

Pilo-erection along just the spine and tail, with whiskers facing forward. Ears forward, direct face-forward eye contact with eyes wide open in a hard stare. Tail lashes from side to side. Chin tilted down, might mock charge, lash out, yowl, hiss, growl or spit. 

Aggressive cat.png

NERVOUS CAT

Very alert, with feet under the body, ready to launch away if needed. Either stares with slow blinking eyes or averts his gaze. Tightly closed muzzle with occasional lip licking. Ears to the side and may purr to try and self-sooth. Tail held tightly against the body.

Nervous Cat.png

SLINKING CAT

Slightly lowered front haunches with the body kept as close to the ground as possible. Eyes fixed on threat, with whiskers either normal or slightly held back against the face and tail held tightly against the side of the body.

Slinking cat.png

RELAXED CAT

Relaxed body posture with soft, loose tail. Often lies on side with legs splayed out. Soft eyes with slow, content blinking. Greeting anyone seen as 'friend' with tail lifted into the air. May bunt (head bump) guardians or other pets, or may rub her whole body against your legs or objects. Purring and miaowing can occur.

Relaxed cat.png

Anxiety in Cats

Some behaviours seen as problematic by owners are actually often times normal feline behaviours.

Fear and (some) anxiety are both normal responses to a threat, whether real or perceived, and some cats do resort to using aggression to resolve conflict, such as when protecting a valued resource against a threat.  Miaowing, yowling, hissing and growling are communication tools used by cats. 

It is only when these behaviours become excessive, exaggerated, or happen out of 

context that they become true behavioural problems.

Please complete the list below to evaluate your cat's behaviour
cats-1-300x226.png
DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR CAT TO BE:
image5291.png
DOES YOUR CAT EXHIBIT ANY OF THE FOLLOWING BEHAVIOURS:

Answering YES to any of these questions above can indicate that your cat might have a behavioural problem...

Cats are excellent at masking both health and behavioural problems, so understanding their body language 

COMMON CAUSES OF ANXIETY AND RESULTING BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS INCLUDE:

Cats are excellent at masking both health and behavioural problems, so understanding their body language 

Intruder cats.png
  • Intruder cats coming into the yard or house through a cat flap or window. 

  • Lack of safe sleeping or hiding places.

  • Single entry or exit points being guarded by other pets.

  • Conflict with people or other animals, like aggression or bullying by other pet. 

  • Dirty litter boxes, new cat litter, trays that are too small or that are placed near food.

  • Too few litter boxes in the house and being interrupted/prevented by other pets or people when trying to use the litter box.

  • Lack of proper nutrition and clean water or competing for food or bullying by other pets.

Competing for food.png
Noise phobias.png
  • Noise phobias caused by thunderstorms, fireworks, vacuum cleaners, trucks, new baby, etc.

  • Traumatic experiences, whether physical, mental or post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Change in routine, environment, activity or housemates.

  • Pain caused by illness, injury or disease.

Ladder of anxiety
Causes of anxiety in cats

BASICS TO HELP KEEP YOUR CAT HEALTHY AND HAPPY

When it comes to your cat’s emotional and physical health and welfare, consistency is key! Any sudden change in diet, routine or environment can lead to problem behaviours.

FOOD

  • Offer at least one feeding bowl per cat, ideally at multiple feeding stations.

  • For indoor cats, provide enrichment by offering food in food dispensing toys to allow opportunity to 'hunt' for food.

  • Do not feed your cat scraps from the table; not only does this encourage begging and food-stealing behaviour from dishes and counters, it can also cause unhealthy weight gain and subsequent pain-related problems. Some human food is very dangerous to cats.

Cat eating.png
Cat drinking water.png

WATER

  • Clean water should be provided on an ad-lib basis with water bowls placed away from feeding and sleeping areas.​

  • Offer water in a variety of bowl types and in different rooms to prevent one cat from controlling access to critical resources.

SLEEPING AND HIDING AREAS

  • Make sure there are plenty of comfortable places, both raised off the floor or on higher surfaces throughout the house.​

  • Hiding places like boxes, baskets or cupboards helps your cat to cope with changes and stressful events.

  • Provide enough comfortable, safe places for each cat and never bother a cat in her bed.

Kitten sleeping.png
Cat Lying_edited.jpg

SPACE

  • It is important to create a space where your cat feels safe and comfortable, with sufficient space to move around in (at least two rooms for indoor cats).

  • Ensure your cat has access to elevated surfaces of varying heights, like cupboards and windowsills

LITTER BOXES

  • Ensure that there is at least one litter box per cat, with one 'spare' in various private locations, away from busy areas.

  • Even cats with access outside may need litter boxes, especially if the weather is bad, or if there is a dog outside that the cat is scared of, or if the cat is elderly and can't get outside in time.

Kitten litter box.png

  • Remove faeces daily and replace litter as soon as it looks used or it has any smell to it.

  • Don't use strong smelling detergents to wash the trays and be sure to put enough litter in the tray when it's cleaned.

  • Remove faeces daily and replace litter as soon as it looks used or it has any smell to it.

Kitten playing.png

STIMULATION

  • Give your cat an appropriate scratching post so he doesn't sharpen his nails or mark his territory using your furniture.

  • Cats need toys as much as dogs do! Cat toys should move to keep them interesting for your hunter.

Help to keep your cat happy

Your vet and behaviourist are a formidable team who is well equipped to help your best friend.

CalmEze Plus can be used in conjunction with behavioural therapy

to assist with the management of behavioural related problems

In partnership with

coape-logo.png
CalmEze Plus Group shot no background.png
bottom of page