Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys


Numerous human studies have confirmed that chronic stress is detrimental to our health. The increase in inflammatory activity in the body triggered by stress can weaken the immune system and has been associated with just about every health condition, including cancer. A landmark study conducted at the Ohio State University in 2011 looked at how stress impacts cats, and the findings led to a new understanding among veterinarians and cat parents on the connection between environmental stress and urinary tract disease.

A more recent study, “Epidemiological study of feline idiopathic cystitis in Seoul, South Korea,” sought to determine what factors were related to a higher risk of feline interstitial cystitis, an often painful, inflammatory condition of the bladder and urinary tract in cats who live in South Korea.

Our resident cat behaviorist Mikel Delgado took a closer look at the study and found that the results suggested five key factors that were related to FIC:

  • being male
  • having a litter box with non-clumping litter
  • living with other cats
  • living in an apartment (versus a house)
  • not having an elevated vantage point for use (such as a cat condo or vertical space).

Read Mikel’s blog cats and squirrels and other important things… for more information about the fascinating findings of this study and Mikel’s interpretation of the findings.

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8 Comments on The Connection Between Stress and Your Cat’s Health

  1. I have a young female who got diagnosed with FIC, and a friend who also had a cat with that said she read to put low curtains on all the windows so her cat could not see outside because it was an inside cat and outdoor cats were stressing it out. It’s symptoms went away after this. My cat gets very territorial when she sees other cats outside and puffs up her tail. It’s symptoms went away after this. I’m considering blocking the windows, or at least doing it at night when the other cats roam around the most. I’m hesitant to block the windows all the time because she also seems to enjoy looking out but I want her to be in good health too. Any thoughts here?

    • Outside cats can be a trigger for stress and aggression for many cats. Blocking the window is one solution, but there are other options. Here’s more information:

  2. Sounds like your kitty might feel threatened and feels the need to continually establish his territory by spraying. Not necessarily “scared threatened”…Cats thrive on routine & stability. Too much change in a short amount of time has shaken his world. I’d make sure he has his own spaces for privacy and anytime access to maybe even his own litter box (if possible). Alone cuddle & petting sessions with his human(s) without the new kitten(!), to reassure that he hasn’t lost his place. Lots of play & attention is great, but I think feeling secure and having a quiet place to ” escape to” is just as important. Best wishes!! 🙂

  3. I now know a 4th person who has a cat who is licking skin off their stomach. Most of the time, I can’t even give my cat her steroid me most of the time. I am going call the local cats only doctor. We cat loving people want to help cats with this problem and find a better way to give the cats with this problem a better way of getting rid of this problem. I realize it is stress of some type causing it, something these cat consider stressful. My one friend has only one cat and I have 7. So what is causing this stress and how can we find a way to give our cat their meds?

    • While overgrooming can be a sign of stress, it can also have other causes, and requires a thorough work up by your vet. Steroids can relieve symptoms, but won’t address the underlying problem. As to how to give your cat medication, this article may help:

  4. Very interesting- I have a middle age tux who has been spraying away. Much stress in his life over the last 4 months. Lost his buddy suddenly, our senior passed 6 weeks later, and a kitten came into the home. So 3 cats in house now, and lots of play and attention but he is still spraying all over the home. I am trying to be patient, have used calming drops, but this article rings true to me!

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