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A Feline Friendly Festive Season

Cat CuteVacations may be fun for owners, but how do they affect the feline family members? Cats don’t usually make good travel companions, preferring the security of home. But even at home cats can find the holidays stressful, whether their owner is away or visitors are staying over. Any change in routine can create anxiety for cats, and this can impact behaviour and even make the cat susceptible to health problems. “Just as stress is known to affect our health, it can have the same effect on cats. While it may not be a direct cause it does make them more likely to develop various ailments such as Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), the number one reason why cats see veterinarians1,” said Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Advisor to Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

How can you tell if your cat is stressed? According to Dr Fyvie, how the cat exhibits stress depends on its personality. “Withdrawing or hiding is the most common – if you haven’t seen your cat around much that’s a definite sign that something could be bothering it. The cat may spend more time indoors, start pacing back and forth, meow or yowl or lose its appetite. Having ‘accidents’ or spraying indoors can be stress-related, as is a heightened startle response, being less playful or becoming defensively aggressive – with cats or people.”

But before you change your holiday plans there are several ways you can help your cat cope better this festive season.

• Ask the pet-sitters to ‘visit’ and play with the cat a few times before you leave, this will help ease separation anxiety. If you have guests encourage them to spend time playing with the cat or giving it treats.

• Before you go away starting feeding your cat Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Stress which contains L-tryptophan and milk protein hydrolysate and is clinically proven to help reduce stress in cats.

• Leave behind plenty of food and cat litter, or instructions for where these should be purchased. When you are away is not a good time for a change in food or litter.

• Write down your cat’s routine, including feeding times, grooming and play-time – minimising change will go a long way towards making it feel secure.

Is your cat stressed? Take the Kitty Stress-O-Meter test to find out For expert advice speak to your vet.

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