Dear Miss Kitty,
We got a new couch for Christmas. When we moved out the old one, our cat Rosco went into hiding. He still hasn’t come out. What can we do to get our cat back?
Hiding in Hotchkiss
Many situations can stress your feline friend. Anything from people coming to your home, remodeling a room, or visiting the vet can quickly increase the stress level in your cat. Like you found, even rearranging the furniture or moving the kitty litter box can be a doozy in the world of cat stress.
Cats, big and small, are very territorial beings. Most of us have seen the big cat programs on TV that show a tiger or lion marking the perimeter of his territory. He will often spray urine, scratch trees, and shuffle his back feet on the ground all to mark his territory.
Your lion in cat clothing feels the same need to have safe space that he can call his own. Scratching the cat tree, rubbing the side of his face on you and on many important social objects are just some of the ways he marks territory.
If Rosco is stressed in his environment, his marking can become destructive. Scratching inappropriately, urine spraying, and even defecating out of the box are signals that he may not feel safe in his territory.
A professional feline behaviorist can determine why Rosco is exhibiting unwanted behaviors and whether they are medical issues or behavioral. Medical issues will be referred to your vet.
To resolve any behavior issues, the behaviorist will put a plan together and most likely will use one or more natural remedies. These are all easy to use and safe for your feline friend.
Cats use pheromones, which are equivalent to human hormones, when they rub on you or an object. Feliway is a product that mimics feline pheromones and can assist in reducing inappropriate behaviors. It comes in a spray, plug-in atomizer, and wipes.
Use Feliway at entry points to Rosco’s territory such as doors and windows if he is worried about cats roaming outside or people visiting your home.
Feliway can also help lessen the stress caused by vet visits, thunderstorms, a new baby, and many other circumstances.
Calming collars have become extremely popular. If Rosco will tolerate the collar, it can help him feel less anxiety in his territory.
Collars are designed to last about a month. There are many different brands, and even different solutions in the collars. Some contain essential oils such as lavender and chamomile. Others have simulated pheromones.
Do be aware the collars are not safety collars and will not expand if your cat gets caught on something. I do not recommend them for kittens and very active cats. Do not use them for outdoor cats because they cannot be monitored.
These natural remedies have been used for over five decades by pet behavior professionals. They are easy to apply and are effective for reducing anxiety and stopping inappropriate behaviors.
The most well- known of these is Rescue Remedy which is recommended for significant short-term stress such as vet visits, when the owner is traveling, or adjusting to a new baby in the house.
Jackson Galaxy, from Animal Planet’s TV show, My Cat from Hell, also has a line of flower essences that help with everything from bullying to inappropriate scratching and even missing the litter box. I have found these to be very effective if given 3 times a day while the anxiety is continuing.
AnimalEO is a line of essential oils created by a veterinarian. They are effective and safe when used as directed.
Anxiety as well as some physical ailments can be improved with the right essential oils. Calm-a-Mile and KittyBoost are popular animalEO blends used to reduce stress, and might be helpful for Rosco.
KittyBoost can also assist in alleviating some physical issues like digestive dysfunction. Some of the oils, such as LitterBoost, can even be added to the litter box to help with a variety of ailments.
Some of the animalEO products can be diffused and some cannot, so always read the directions carefully!
All of the products mentioned above can be purchased at Happy Cats Haven and online. Some of them are also available at your vet’s office and/or local pet stores.
For best results with natural solutions, work with a professional feline behaviorist or a veterinarian who uses the specific remedy in her practice.
Carole Galloway is the owner of Colorado CATS, a luxury cat-only boarding facility in Colorado Springs since 1995. Carole has cared for thousands of cats over the years and has worked as a professional Cat Behavior Consultant for the past 15 years.