By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 02/08/2021, edited: 10/25/2022
Pet parents will undoubtedly be familiar with their feline friends disappearing for several hours to spend some alone time in their favorite safe space. It's well-documented that cats love a bit of time by themselves.
This behavior isn't usually anything personal — it's partly instinct that drives your tiny tiger to seek somewhere quiet away from potential predators. But how do you tell if your cat needs some space from you? Here are 5 tell-tale signs to watch out for.
As mentioned, your cat will always seek out a quiet space, whether it's behind a cupboard or atop their cat tower. This helps cats get away from overstimulating sights and sounds and keep an eye on their surroundings. However, if you find your little lion spends all their time hiding, it could be a sign they need a bit of extra space from their human family.
Aggression is a common sign your cat needs some extra space from you. In a small household, you'll find yourself interacting with your cat frequently throughout the day, which could cause them to become overstimulated and aggressive. If your cat becomes rigid, fluffs their tail, and hisses at you, these are tell-tale signs your cat is unhappy. You should give them plenty of space and time to calm down.
Overgrooming, also known by the scientific name psychogenic alopecia, is a common sign your cat is highly stressed. There are several reasons cats overgroom, including moving house, a new furry family member, and a hectic household. If you find your cat is overgrooming and pulling large tufts of hair out, consult your vet or an animal behavior specialist to see if a need for extra space is the cause. You can also chat 24/7 with a vet through Wag! if you have any quick questions.
If your cat usually can't get enough of their kibble and suddenly starts turning their nose up at dinnertime, it could be a sign they need some extra space. If this behavior is psychological, it could result from overstimulation in the household, making them feel unsafe while eating. While a need for space could be the cause, there are lots of potentially serious medical reasons why your cat has a decreased appetite. Consult your vet first to rule out anything serious before considering psychological causes.
Cats are generally very good at going to the bathroom in their litter box, and a change of behavior could mean they need a bit of respite from the family. Going to the bathroom outside their litter box could be a sign your cat is stressed. Cats like to feel safe and do their business quietly, away from the family and loud noises. They may be going outside their litter box as a way to mark their territory or to show that their current litter box placement is less than desirable.
Once you've figured out that your cat needs more space, what can you do to make them feel more at home? Here are a few ideas that should help your cat feel more relaxed at home.
Offer playtime and toys. A happy cat is a happy home, and you can help keep your feline feeling fine by providing them with plenty of playtime and toys. A variety of toys will and at least 30 minutes of playtime each day could make the difference between your cat hiding away and feeling happy in their environment.
Provide better safe spaces. Plenty of quiet getaway spots are essential for cats. Place familiar-smelling blankets and pillows in a small enclosed space so your cat has somewhere to go when they're feeling overwhelmed. Ensure to have a few nests around the house so your cat can escape whenever they need to.
Give your cat vertical territory. Cats love to climb, and giving them a space where they can keep an eye on what's happening will go a long way toward keeping them happy at home. Consider replacing your old cat tree with a larger, more complex model, or install cat shelves so your cat will have even more space to roam around your home.
Put your cat's litter in a quiet area of the house. One reason your cat may need extra space is their litter is in a spot with lots of foot traffic. Consider putting your cat's litter box in a rarely-used room so they can do their business in peace. This is especially important if you have multiple cats, as they should each have their own litter box away from one another.
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