Woman preoccupied with herself does not realise her Siamese cat is stressed and unhappy

Yes, I am being provocative and a little tough but sometimes you have to be. The video on TikTok tells me very strongly that this owner (Beth) does not realise that her Siamese cat which cost her $600 (cheap) is unhappy because he or she is stressed. In the video Beth is seen running a bath and her cat is unsure of what is going on and therefore takes up the meerkat position, raising himself up on his hind legs to see better. Beth finds this ‘creepy’ and asks her cat to stop doing it. She does not recognise the fact that the fur on the inside of the thighs of her cat has been removed through overgrowing. This is a clear sign that her cat is stressed, and a stressed cat is an unhappy cat.

Just looking at Beth on her TikTok channel tells me that she is not in a great place to look after a cat properly. I might be mistaken but at 73 years of age I don’t think I am. She’s too preoccupied with herself, her appearance, and gaining TikTok followers and likes and all that sort of crap to be really concerned about her cat. And she’s filming her cat looking anxious with fur missing from her thighs. That’s an admission of failure by the way. And she doesn’t know it. And the way she talks to her cat is awful. And she’s videoing it at the same time. I guess everything she does she bloody well videos.

Beth preoccupied with herself
Beth preoccupied with herself and social media celebrity. Screenshot.

You may well know that domestic cats groom themselves to feel better because grooming is a pleasurable exercise. But judging by the way Beth relates to her cat I have a strong feeling that she is not doing a great job in cat caregiving. I don’t want to be too critical of her as I don’t know her circumstances. But if a domestic cat is stressed then the owner is doing something wrong. They are creating an environment for their cat which is unsuitable.

 
My guess is that this is a full-time indoor cat who might be left alone all day while Beth goes to work. That on itself will stress a cat by the way. It depends upon the cat of course but normally due to separation anxiety a cat will become stressed and anxious when left alone all day.

I do not believe in the scenario whereby a cat owner works all day and leaves their cat in an apartment alone and the cat is a full-time indoor cat. This is not going to work out 99% of the time for a domestic cat. It is fine for the person because they come back to a companion but it’s never going to be great for the cat and I think common sense applies.

Stressed Siamese cat caused by poor cat caregiving
Stressed Siamese cat caused by poor cat caregiving. Image: MikeB based on screenshot.

The video is unpleasant. She finds her cat adopting the meerkat position as creepy behaviour. It isn’t. It is normal and indicative of a cat who is anxious about what is going on in front of them. There needs to be more tolerance of cat behaviour. I have a strong sense, too, that Beth is not actually switched into domestic cat behaviour. She is not sensitive to the needs of her cat. I feel sorry for that cat in ending up where he has, in the wrong place.

The video does shine a light really on what happens in many homes in which there is substandard cat caregiving. Well, let’s be kind and say ‘non-optimal cat caregiving’. I think we owe our cats optimal cat caregiving and if our lifestyle is such that we are unable to deliver it then we should not adopt a cat.

Adopting cat can be a selfish process and often is. “I WANT a cat companion”. That’s the kind of thought process that might occur before adopting. The thought process should be “I would like to adopt a cat but am I in a position to provide good quality cat caregiving for the life of the cat?”

“Do I know enough about cat behaviour to provide optimal cat caregiving?” And “Can I afford to look after a cat for the lifetime of a cat?” You know, it costs about US$15,000 or the equivalent to look after a cat properly throughout their lifetime. You have to budget. In fact, budgeting for cat caregiving is the most important pre-step to adopting.

Below are some more articles on cat caregiving.

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Infecting your cat with stress through pandemic upheaval

The Covid pandemic caused upheaval in the lives of cat caregivers; both at the beginning, during it and at the transition coming out of it. Each stage of the pandemic resulted in change to the lifestyles of cat owners. And any change to a domestic cat’s environment is likely to cause stress in the cat. To a change in the environment, you can add the stress experienced by the cat’s caregiver. People can infect their pets with stress because they are able to pick up the human companion’s emotions. It’s a double whammy scenario which is why the news media are talking about stressed pets at the moment.

Stressed woman
Stressed woman. Photo courtesy Mission Fit Life.

Feline stress signs

We know that there are two pretty clear signs of stress in domestic cats: over-grooming and cystitis (bladder infection). Cats alleviate stress through grooming because it feels good. It helps to calm them down but they go too far because the purpose of grooming at that time is to relieve stress not to improve the condition of their coat. In more extreme cases, a cat might spray urine on vertical surfaces in the home to make it more friendly to them.

Over-groomed cat
Over-groomed cat on belly. Likely cause: stress. Picture in public domain.

And, as expected, over-grooming is of those parts of the coat which are more easily accessible; the belly and the insides of their hind legs. If your cat has a hairless belly due to over-grooming you can be certain that your cat is stressed and you can be equally certain that it is due to a change in their lives brought about by human changes, stress in their human caregiver, or an un-assessed cat-to-cat interaction problem.

Dr. Rory Cowlam is a celebrity vet who works in Dulwich, London. He is the author of The Secret Life of a Vet and an RSPCA ambassador. He’s written a good article for the Daily Mail newspaper online about cat owners ‘infecting’ their cats with stress.

Madison Rogers

An interesting aspect of his article is that there are some examples of how this can happen. Madison Rogers, a Cats Protection senior advocacy officer said that she felt guilty and sad that her cat, Moodles, became stressed. Rogers said that the changes in her life because of the pandemic had been picked up by Moodles. I’ve picked up a little tip in that story because her vet gave her pheromone wipes. When you pet your cat, you can use the wipes on her cheeks. Rogers says that you can see them work and her cat now grooms normally whereas before she was over grooming in that classic way.

My research on Feliway wipes, which are alternative to the Feliway diffusers which are far more commonplace, tells me that they should not be used directly on a cat according to their instructions. This, then, contradicts what Rogers’ vet told her to use them on her cat’s cheeks. Pheromone wipes should be used on surfaces which are commonly used by a domestic cat. Specifically, if a stressed cat is urine marking, the Feliway wipes should be used on the surfaces that are being sprayed. It makes the home more friendly to a cat. They use artificial, generic pheromones which are effective for your regular domestic cat.

Julia Bramble

Julia Bramble and Smudge
Julia Bramble and Smudge. Photo: see embedded credit.

“I realise now the burden of stress had gone through the roof”

The story of Julia Bramble, 56, I think is a good one because it highlights how the pandemic impacted this family’s life in creating a more stressful environment. Her cat, Smudge, a black-and-white, develop cystitis. Julia had become stressed because of the many changes that the pandemic imposed on her including the return of two of her older children to the family home during lockdown. Julia felt pressure about whether she could afford to buy enough food.

And, of course, she had to do homeschooling. She was worried about the children and whether they would graduate and how it will affect their end of term shows. And she is a governor at the school which also added stress to her life. She didn’t realise that humans can pass on their anxiety to their pets and she felt bad about it.

Her veterinarian prescribed antibiotics for the cystitis together with anti-inflammatories and pain relief. She created a space for her cat on the landing with a new scratching post. She bought a water fountain to try and encourage your cat to drink more but he didn’t use it. Her cat is back to normal but it’s a classic scenario where a lot of changes took place in the family home causing stress in the cat’s caretaker which was passed onto her cat.

Stability in the environment is important to a domestic cat. Routines create certainties which leads to predictability for a domestic cat. This is what they like. A boring, repetitive human lifestyle is a good one for the domestic cat.

SOME MORE ON STRESS:

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Cat losing hair on back of ears?

If your cat is losing hair on the back of ears, the first question that you should ask yourself is whether there is genuine hair loss because the hair on the back of a cat’s ear flaps (pinnae) is very thin anyway. It can look as if there has been some hair loss. This is why the ears feel warm because the blood vessels are near the surface as there is a very thin layer of insulating fur.

Hair loss on back of ear
Hair loss on back of ear

Secondly, although I am not a veterinarian (but have lots of experience), it would be unlikely in my opinion if there was hair loss at that location and nothing more. What I am referring to is such issues as the skin being abraded by scratching because the ears are itchy. This would cause hair loss but there would also be signs of scratching or overgrooming.

Nearly all hair loss on a domestic cat ultimately goes back to overgrooming or excessive grooming which is caused by the skin being itchy or the cat is feeling stressed. You have, therefore, to assess the underlying cause of the itchiness or stress. A classic cause of itchiness is the ubiquitous ear mite. Although it lives in the ear canal it can migrate out of that location to places around the ear causing irritation there.

Allergies and dermatitis cause itchiness and a cat may groom excessively in other parts of the body including the ears to alleviate the irritation. But as stated it is unlikely that you will see simple hair loss as the skin may be damaged by the cat self-mutilating.

White cats can get sunburned ear flaps which can cause the ears to become red and itchy. In addition, exposure to sunlight can lead to skin diseases in cats particularly white cats and the inflammation may predispose the cat to squamous cell sarcoma in those areas accompanied by hair loss.

Feline endocrine alopecia is a form of balding possibly caused by hormone deficiency but may be caused by compulsive self-grooming due to stress. Normally this condition results in a symmetrical pattern in the lower part of the cat’s body, on the insides of their legs and on their belly for example. However, it is possible that the cat may overgrooming their ears as well causing hair loss. Stress is normally caused by unwelcome circumstances in the cat’s environment such as long term noise, constant disturbances, hostile and bullying cats, strange people and so on.

My conclusion as a non-veterinarian is that you should first make sure that what you’re looking at is a normal amount of hair at that location, but if you are convinced there is hair loss look for the underlying reason for excessive grooming due to itchiness or stress because self grooming is a calming process.

Obviously, if in doubt see a vet about because that’s what they are there for.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Cat suffering from self-harm OCD kicks himself (video)?

OCD self-harm in cats?
OCD self-harm in cats?

This cat’s behaviour is weird and disturbing. It is not amusing to me as it is to some people. It is difficult to explain. It looks totally illogical with no rational reason for it. It looks as if the hind legs have a mind of their own and have turned on the cat to whom they are attached. I have seen it before in another video of another cat who was also self-grooming excessively.

Involuntary play?

Having thought about it for a bit I HAD decided that it might be a cat playing with himself. Normally another cat would be kicking the face of this cat with his hind legs in play-fighting. The theory was that the cat decided instinctively to play with himself. It seems as if that when he groomed his hind leg it kicked off the desire to play. His hind legs automomously (acting on its own volition) start to kick his face.

Mental health issue?

However, reflecting on it, it does look like a mental health issue. We don’t know if cats can suffer from serious mental health issues. We know they can have OCD and behave compulsively such as in overgrooming. And this cat is apparently overgrooming. I wonder therefore if the involuntary action of the legs is an extension of compulsive overgrooming. It is shocking that the cat then bites his leg as if the leg belong to another cat and in retalition for the legs hitting his face.

I have decided that this has to be a mental health issue of some sort because the behaviour is a form of self-harm. This automatically has to be about mental health. The question is why do the legs kick out? The behaviour was provoked by the manic grooming. My conclusion now is that this cat lost control of grooming. He or she is stressed. They tried to relieve the stress through self-grooming which is pleasant. The cat decided it was too compulsive (it may have become uncomfortable) and involuntarily stopped it by kicking out; self-harming which caused further self-harming by biting the leg in response.

As mentioned cats overgroom (causing harm sometimes) when seeking relief from anxiety and self-harming through kicking is an extension of that process.

Human OCD self-harm

Is there a human equivalent which can help explain this? There is ‘OCD self-harm’ behavior in humans. The cause is very similar to OCD in cats: stress and anxiety. A desire to find control over one’s environment. Self-harm distracts from the emotional pain.

I’d appreciate input from others

Please tell me what you think. It is perplexing.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Cat losing fur on tail

The first question is to ask if the cat is losing fur only on the tail or also on other parts of the body. Also it depends on the configuration of the hair loss. Is it small patches, a single larger area or a general thinning? These are all relevant questions in dealing with feline hair loss on the tail.

Hair loss on cat tail
Hair loss on cat tail

Over-grooming

It would be unusual to just be losing fur on the tail and if that was the case my first thoughts are that it would be over-grooming due to stress or anxiety. It might be useful to watch your cat as much as possible to see if she is grooming her tail more than usual.

The tail is easily accessible and therefore, although over-grooming normally takes place on the belly because that too is easily accessible, it might also occur on the tail. Over-grooming removes some of the fur from the body which leaves bald patches or thinner hair.

Endocrine

There were two medical conditions which affect thyroid production and which can cause hair loss, thinning or balding of the coat. One of them is hyperthyroidism which is in excess of thyroid hormone. About one third of cats with this endocrine condition will have hair which pulls out easily and hair loss.

The other is a deficiency in the thyroid hormone which is hypothyroidism in which causes dry skin and thinning of the hair-coat. The hair becomes dull and brittle but this condition is rare in domestic cats.

Ringworm

It is just possible that it might be ringworm. This is a fungal infection which causes hair loss in small patches. It creates scaly, crusty or red circular patches up to 2 inches across. The patches have central hair loss with a red ring at the periphery. It’s a highly contagious condition and people can easily catch it from their cat.

Allergies

Allergies cause itching which in turn causes over-grooming. However, parts of the body in addition to or other than the tail would be affected.

There is an allergy, an allergy to flea bites, which might be applicable. It is not uncommon for cats to pull out their hair around the base of the tail if they suffer from this allergy.

In fact, it may be any one of a number of allergies which causes the tail to become itchy but this begs the question whether people are searching on Google for hair loss on their cat’s tail only. A general reaction to an allergen such as an inhaled substance such as pollen should cause itching over other parts of the body resulting in the cat licking those areas as well.

Injury

If the hair loss is very localised it may be a simple injury in which the fur has been stripped away from the skin.

Vet

The real answer is to see a veterinarian and not to rely on the internet because the topic is too complicated to resolve with certainty from words written without expert help.

This is not necessarily a complete list.

SOME MORE…

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What does autogrooming mean?

Happy cat autogrooming
Happy cat autogrooming. Screenshot.

Autogrooming describes behavior that you see a lot if you are a cat guardian. It means the grooming (licking) of a cat by the cat themselves. The alternative word is ‘allogrooming’ which you might know means one cat grooming another. Allogrooming is often mutual and a kitten experiences it almost from birth when their mother licks and cleans them.

This is feline autogrooming


 

When autogrooming is carried out beyond its purpose of keeping the coat in good condition it is overgrooming, the cause of which is probably stress or an itchy skin due to perhaps an allergy e.g. flea bite allergy. Autogrooming is a pleasant experience so if a cat is stressed for any reason grooming themselves helps to alleviate it.

Domestic cats are fastidious and committed autogroomers as we all know. If there are three activities that the cat is known for it is (1) autogrooming (2) snoozing and (3) hunting.

Cats follow a set procedure when grooming themselves. It is autogrooming which is at the root cause of people’s allergy to cats. Those of you who are sensitive to the cat allergen Fel D1 might know that it is present in the cat’s saliva which is deposited on their fur where it dries and flies off into the room to spread the allergen far and wide.

Autogrooming can help to cool cats as some of their saliva evaporates. This initiates the cooling process that we feel when perspiration evaporates on our skin. Cats cannot benefit from the evaporation of perspiration (except on their paw pads) so cooling from saliva helps.

The reason why cats lick themselves after you stroke or pet them on their flanks or back is because it stimulates their desire to autogroom as they perceive your stroking as grooming.

SOME MORE ON CATS GROOMING THEMSELVES AND OTHERS:

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If you are feeling stressed your cat might be too

Humans create the atmosphere in the home. Cats add positively to it but humans are the prime creators of mood. Cats are mammals with a wide range of physiological similarities to humans. We must realise that if we are stressed it is likely that our cats will be stressed too. And the same is true about an atmosphere which is at the opposite end of the spectrum: a calm, pleasant and loving environment which promotes feline wellbeing.

Companion animal stress is synchronised with human guardian stress

We have to come to the conclusion therefore that the personality of the cat owner/guardian and their lifestyle has a strong effect on feelings of wellbeing or distress of their companion cat.

It is incumbent upon cat guardians to be aware of their behaviour around their cat. How many cat owners are? The synchronisation of emotions between human and cat is not something that would necessarily come to mind. You know how life can be. I feel that it is becoming more stressful as it becomes more competitive and speeds up.

We are forced to speed up by the internet and modern day high-speed communications such as text messages. Many families have both parents in work and often the work is demanding. Cats under suboptimal conditions might feel the stress of their owners and become stressed themselves.

It is a point worth making because it can be overlooked. If a cat is constantly feeling stressed he may develop stress related diseases such as cystitis and psychological conditions such as overgrowing to calm himself down.

I feel that it is getting harder to maintain a really calm home. I may be wrong and what I say may not be representative of typical American life. Certainly in the UK life has speeded up and is more stressful as evidenced by an surge in self-harming among school teenagers.

It is my belief that cats mirror their owners stress or calmness. How they feel may not be obvious and therefore overlooked. I’d suggest that we are all mindful of how our stress might affect our cat and of the need to modify our lives to combat stress.

I am sure there are lots of pages written about parents not arguing in front of their children but do people have the same attitude regarding their cat? That may sound absurd to people who don’t own or understand cats but I am sure I am correct.

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Feline overgrooming: isolating 3 reasons

It might be convenient to bracket cat overgrooming into three reasons (a) itchiness (b) pain (c) stress and anxiety.

Bone Bone the celebrity cat is stressed
He is stressed because is he overgrooming his belly so much he has removed the fur.

A cat who licks and therefore is overgrowing all over is probably trying to reduce itchiness on the skin. This might be due to an allergy (perhaps food or environmental and hard to resolve, I think) or a skin problem, perhaps a dermatological problem (e.g. flea bite allergy) or skin parasite.

A cat who licks a specific area might be trying to alleviate pain in that area. This may apply to a leg or paw which has been injured in a fall or perhaps pain in the abdomen causing the cat to lick his belly.

Both the above might need veterinary intervention.

Thirdly, a cat might persistently groom an easy to reach place causing the fur to disappear exposing the skin. This is likely to be due to anxiety caused by stress. Self-grooming is calming for a cat.

The easiest to reach area for a cat to groom, for this reason, is the belly and the inside of the thighs of the hind legs.

In this third group the owner has to identify the cause of the stress and eliminate or reduce it if possible. It will usually be to do with territory or perhaps bullying in a multi-cat home. The latter is a threat from within the home and the former might be from outside the home e.g. cats outside which the inside cat can see and perceives as a threat.

The ‘cure’ to stress induced overgrooming is to make the cat’s environment more suited for a cat and to allow the cat to more often and more easily express his natural behavior.

If you see overgrowing and you have isolated the cause to be stress, playing with a favourite toy may stop it. It is a way of redirecting your cat away from self-mutilation which is what stress induced grooming is.

Being around more and engaging in good routines with your cat will reassure him too.

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