Signs & Symptoms of Stress in Cats

Living safely indoors and spending every day sleeping on a soft bed in front of a sunny window may sound like the "purrfect" lifestyle to humans. But to cats, leading such a protected, cushy life can be boring and even stressful. Here are some common signs of a stressed cat.

Not Using the Litter Box

Stressed cats often reassure themselves by anointing their surroundings with their scent. Favorite locations are beds and chairs, piles of clean or unwashed laundry, throw rugs, the corners of carpeted rooms and children's toys.


Even female cats will spray to mark their territory if stressed. Some common locations are exterior walls, kitchen counters and stoves, and windows and sliding glass doors.

Excessive Grooming

Some stressed cats will groom so much they create bald spots.


Many cats think the best way to escape a stressful situation is to avoid it by retreating into a closet, the darkest corner of the basement or under a bed. This can also be a sign of illness or injury. If your usually friendly cat hides, take it to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Changes in Eating Habits

Some cats cope with stress by eating more than they should. Others lose interest in food and eat much less than usual. Loss of appetite can also be a sign of illness. If your cat stops eating, visit the vet as soon as you can.

  • Some cats cope with stress by eating more than they should.


Stress can trigger feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), skin allergies, asthma attacks and other illnesses.