Anyone who has lived with a cat for a length of time knows that cats hate change. We all know how stressful it is to move, take a trip, introduce a new pet, have a baby, have overnight guests, or one of any major changes that can be upsetting to cats. But, a new study shows that even relatively minor changes can make a cat sick.
A study published in the January 1 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that healthy cats can exhibit symptoms of illness when their routine is changed. The study did not initially focus on this aspect of cat behavior. It was designed to help provide options for cats with chronic disease and it found that providing consistency did have a positive impact on disease.
What was surprising to scientists was how the healthy control group reacted when changes were introduced. The healthy cats were almost as likely as the chronically ill cats to show signs of illness when faced with changes in their environment.
The changes were things like altering the feeding schedule, changing the caretaker, eliminating playtime, adding or removing music and other simple environmental changes.
So, the recommendation is that veterinarians take into consideration recent changes in the household when diagnosis illness. We know from personal experience just how upsetting changes can be to cats. A recent pantry infestation required us to remove the contents of all the kitchen cabinets and it took several days to clean everything and restock the cabinets. Our cat reacted very strongly, with increasing meowing, pacing and poor appetite. He ended up constipated and had to take a trip to the vet’s office.
To keep your cat healthy and happy, here are some recommendations:
1. Feed at the same time every day.
2. Allocate play time every day and try not to miss your play date. It’s good for your cat and relaxing for you, too.
3. Keep your home clean and clutter-free.
4. Do not change cat litter brands or make a gradual change by mixing the new and old litter over time.
5. Give your cat high and low hiding places when expecting guests.
6. Make new pet introductions gradually.
7. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior when necessary changes are happening.
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