Cats are falling ill with life-threatening stress as owners spend longer at home

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The pandemic over the last year-and-a-half has disrupted virtually every facet of 21st century life. From forcing office workers to set up shop at home, to bringing entire industries to a grinding halt, the coronavirus has exacted a heavy toll on the nation. Animal experts have now warned pet all across the country have also felt the impact of the pandemic, with Covid forcing them into a new and rather alien lifestyle.

According to animal charity Cats Protection, having to adjust to their owners working from home has been a pretty stressful ordeal.

Unlike man’s best friend, cats tend to be more solitary creatures, especially when on the hunt.

This, of course, is not always the case with every cat.

According to Blue Cross for Pets, domesticated cats can still form intimate bonds with their owners and “on rare occasions, can even develop separation anxiety” when left alone for long periods of time.

But a spokeswoman for the charity has warned cats may still become stressed by the amount of time they are spending with their owners.

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Vet holding a stressed out cat

Cats owners have been warned about their moggied being stressed out by the pandemic (Image: GETTY)

Angry cat hissing at owner

Cats may be more lethargic or reluctant to be touched when stressed (Image: GETTY)

With owners no longer going to the office and children learning from home, cats don’t have the seven or eight hours of peace and quiet to act as a “circuit breaker”.

The stress of having to share a space with humans round-the-clock has led to an increase in life-threatening conditions in the last 18 months.

Vets have reported an uptick in blocked bladders in male cats and cystitis in female cats.

A spokeswoman told The Times: “It would appear that some cats may have become more stressed in their home during the pandemic.

“Changes to a cat’s routine always have the potential to cause stress, as they are creatures of habit.”

“As well as this, ‘safe’ or ‘quiet’ places that a cat could have escaped to in the home previously may have been repurposed as a home office, so the cat no longer has a quiet place.”

To help fight against the pressures of adjusting to the new routines, Cats Protection has suggested creating moggie-friendly safe spaces.

Baby plays with kitten after it crawls into her cot at night

These could be quiet little corners, where you can tuck away treats, water and blankets for your cat to hide once in a while.

According to Cats Protection, there are a number of tell-tale signs your cat is stressed.

These include being more withdrawn than usual, being less tolerant of people, overeating and house soiling.

Cats may also react to stress by over-grooming and being more hesitant to interact with owners.

If you notice any of these symptoms, the charity suggests giving your cat some space.

And if you suspect your beloved moggie is suffering from any health condition, pay a visit to your vet.


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Woman tweeting about depressed cats

Vets are reporting more stress-related conditions in cats (Image: @JOANNAMONT TWITTER)

Stressed cat sitting on a chair

Stressed cats will need a quiet ‘safe space’ where they can rest (Image: GETTY)

Make sure your pet has everything it needs, from water to food and scratching posts.

Try not to play or handle them if they seem reluctant and try to keep other cats – especially nosy ones from the neighbourhood – away.

Finally, keep in mind that cats are animals of habit and changes to the routine can be stressful.

Cats Protection explains on its website: “Whether you’re planning to move house, have building work completed or welcome a new baby into your home, preparing your cat for the changes reduces the risk of stress.”

When in doubt, check in with your local vet to learn more about why your cat is behaving unusually.

Last month, a Twitter user named Joanna claimed their local vet has seen the number of depressed cats skyrocket since the pandemic.

She said: “Today the vet told me that since Covid, they’ve had to treat a number of cats with depression caused by irritation that their people are at home all day.

“Obviously it’s not really funny but… that’s the most Cat thing I’ve ever heard.

“Apparently dogs do not have the same problem.”

Cats can also become stressed out by loud noises, activity and an increased number of people at home – so keep an eye out on these stress factors.

Roy Walsh

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