14. Avoiding stress and conflict: domestic cat
When domestic cats feel stressed, they endeavour to use the same strategy as their distant cousins. Providing them with places to hide or get up high can help them to cope with stressful situations.
They often find appropriate places at home such as in a cupboard or underneath the bed.Original image URL - http://www.flickr.com/photos/starglows/6615788073/in/photostream/ Image author - staglows (no real name given), licence - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Flight rather than fight
When cats exhibit aggressive behaviour, it is sometimes because they are stressed or fearful and do not have the option to flee, so their option is to fight or behave aggressively.
Cats will use scent to try to avoid conflict. They mark the edges of their territory and areas within the territory where they may perceive threat (eg windows or other entry/exit points where they can see a neighbourhood cat outside).
Cats should not be distracted or disturbed when they are using their hiding places.
Video above (no sound): This cat is getting up high to avoid walking through another cat's territory.
Video above (no sound): This video shows a fearful cat that is running away and trying to get up high to avoid conflict.
Here are some essential resources that owners can provide to help cats reduce their stress levels:
- somewhere to get up high
- somewhere to hide
- hunting/playing opportunities
- feeding balls
- scratching post
- correctly positioned litter tray/food/water bowls