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Answers from vets about your cat:

Is Your Cat Secretly Stressed?

Posted December 17, 2014 in Cat Behavior

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.

cat on bed

It’s tough for many of my clients to believe that their seemingly happy, healthy, lazy cat may be a ball of stress on the inside. Recognizing stress in cats may be difficult but it is always important.
Stress in cats not only reduces quality of life, but there is a link between stress and medical conditions, such as bladder diseases and behavior problems. But don't panic just yet. Small and easy changes can help minimize stress and promote happiness. This concept is called Environmental Enrichment.

Stress relief and litter boxes
Kitties eliminate not just because they have to, but also because it’s a way to claim what is theirs. You can avoid “peeing outside the box” with a few litter box rules.

Cats love cleanliness. The number of litter boxes should equal the number of household cats +1. Different cats prefer different litter types, so you may have to offer a “litter box buffet” of many different types of litter until you determine which type your cat uses consistently. Litter boxes should be scooped every day and washed weekly with mild dish detergent. Cats are very sensitive to smells. A strong cleaner smell may prevent your cat from using the litter box. The size of the litter box is similar to the rules of a puppy crate. It should be large enough for your cat to stand up and turn around.

Should it be opened or closed? That will depend on which your cat likes most. As far as the location goes, privacy and tranquility are key. Click here for more litter box tips.

Stress relief and scratching
Scratching is a natural behavior that helps cats leave their scent, shed, sharpen their nails and even helps them stretch. To prevent cats from choosing a not-so-ideal location, make sure your cats have a scratching post they like. If your kitty likes the couch leg, then try a vertical scratching post. If your cat likes to scratch the wood furniture, than try a wood log.

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.