It can often be difficult to tell if your cat is stressed. Their behaviour might change subtly, or they might begin to do things that you might perceive as 'being naughty.'
There are many reasons stress can occur - it is an immediate response to a threat that enables the cat's 'flight or fight' response. Moving house, changes in the environment, unfamiliar people visiting the house or the arrival of a new baby or pet can all trigger a response. However, ongoing stress can be harmful to your cat's health so it's important to keep an eye on their behaviour.
Many of the signs of stress are similar to those when your cat is in pain.
With any unusual behaviour change, it is important to get your cat checked out by the vet. Signs of stress can include:
Each individual cat is different and what might cause one cat stress will be of no importance to another. The cause of your cat's behavioural problem can often be difficult to identify, particularly if there are a number of contributing factors.
If you're concerned about your cat's behaviour, you should always go and see your vet. They can refer you to a suitably qualified behaviourist, such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk), or a Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB).
Seek help sooner rather than later - it can be difficult to get to the bottom of long-standing issues.