Last Updated on: September 26, 2011 by Ingrid King

stressed cat

Stress, whether physiological or emotional, is the root cause of illness for humans as well as pets. We may wonder, as we look at our feline charges sleeping the day away on the sofa, what in the world could possibly cause them to be stressed out?

Actually, a lot of things.  Since most cats prefer familiar routines, anything from other cats in the household to a new baby, a move, remodeling, or even just furniture being moved around can create feline stress.

But did you know that your stress could make your cat sick?

Cats and their humans often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states.  Cats are sensitive creatures as well as natural healers, and in my Reiki practice, I’ve sometimes seen them take on their human’s problems, often in an attempt to heal them.  Because of the bond shared between cat and human in a close relationship, energetic imbalances may be shared as well.

“The emotional turmoil brought on by such difficulties as household  financial problems, frequent job travel, or marital differences can  affect our cats in very tangible ways,” says Dr. Fern Crist, a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. “Our stress can induce undesirable behaviors in our cats, such as inappropriate urination.

“More importantly, our stress can also influence the development of actual physical illness in our cats as well as in ourselves. As responsible owners, we sometimes need to take a good look at ourselves when we ask why our pets are having problems. Stress relief for pet owners won’t solve every pet health problem, but can go a long way toward alleviating many of them.”

I’ve experienced what the effects of human stress can do to a cat’s health firsthand when I was dealing with the aftermath of my divorce.  Feebee, my then 10-year-old cat who had never been sick a day in his life, developed bladder stones a few months after my former husband moved out.  Ours was not an ugly divorce, there was no kitty-custody battle, and Feebee staying with me was never in question.  But he loved my former husband, and I’m sure that losing one of the two humans who had been there for his entire life, combined with my emotional state at the time, contributed to his health problems.

In retrospect, I wish I’d known about this stress connection back then – maybe my little man wouldn’t have gotten sick.  The experience definitely made me more sensitive to managing my own stress around my cats.

It seems the least I can do, considering how much they help me relieve my stress.

Photo: morguefile.com

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