How to Help Calm Down an Upset Cat

These techniques can help calm a cat.

Cats can be particular about things. Not only that, but they can really thrive on routine and get upset or stressed when there's a disruption. Stressed cats may engage in unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate urination, scratching unsuitable items, or overgrooming themselves until they have sores.

Here are some ways, both short-term and long-term, to help an upset cat calm down and feel better.

Keep Your Kitty Cozy

Cats like to have a place to go if they're feeling stressed that allows them to hide while still being able to see what's going on. A Cat Cave can fit the bill quite nicely for this.

Cats also feel more secure when they have a place to go that's high. From a lofty perch, they can watch what's going on below without feeling like they need to be directly involved. Some people build sturdy catwalks high on their walls for this. A nice, tall scratching post with a perch can be great too.

If a specific event is going to occur in your home that you know will upset your cat, it can help to create a small safe room for her to hang out during that time. Make sure there's food, water, clean cat litter, a cozy cat bed, and some nice toys in the room. Put a sign on the door warning guests not to enter.

Traveling in the car can be an exceptionally stressful thing for a cat. Making sure your cat is secured inside a cat carrier can help not only keep her safer but also help keep her calmer. If possible, try to help your cat get used to the carrier before a trip is necessary by putting a soft bed inside and leaving it in a common area of your home, door open, so she can go in and rest when she wants to.

Allow for Marking of Territory

Marking territory helps cats feel better and releases stress. However, it's not always a great thing for your home. If your kitty is marking things with urine or scratching inappropriate items, which are both ways that cats mark their areas, you might become the one who's stressed.

To be sure that your cat can engage in stress-relieving marking behavior while not damaging your home, be sure to provide lots of good quality scratching posts that your cat loves to use. You can learn more about the best type of scratching posts to choose here: "How to Choose the Best Cat Scratching Post."

Be sure to put the scratching posts in prominent areas of your home because that is where your cat wants to show others that they are entering her property.

Stay Close but Don't Overwhelm Your Cat

Some cats like to be held and cuddled while they're upset while others don't. If your cat is stressed about something and is acting upset, stay close to her, but don't be too pushy. Let her climb on your lap and hide her head if she wants to, but don't hug her tightly if she's squirming to get away.

Speak soothingly and calmly to your kitty when she's upset. If you're stressed, she will take a cue from you and get even more upset.

For Long-Term Stress Relief, Use Interactive Play

Interactive play is the most stress-relieving type of playtime that you can provide for your kitty. Use a wand toy to mimic the behavior of your cat's natural prey animals—rodents and birds. Being able to exercise her hunter instincts relieves stress for your kitty. Make interactive play a routine part of all your days but increase the frequency and intensity of the play sessions during times when your cat seems stressed.

Use Feliway

Feliway is a product that is formulated to mimic the stress-relieving pheromones that cats produce in the scent glands of their cheeks. It comes in a spray or diffuser and using it can go a long way toward reducing stress in cats.

For example, you may spray the inside of the cat carrier before putting your cat inside, and that can help relieve the stress of going for a car ride. If you have multiple cats in your household, Feliway Multicat diffusers placed around the home may help calm all the kitties down.

Learn more here: "Fighting Feline Stress with Feliway."

Work on the Stress' Source

While it may be impossible to remove stress from your cat's life altogether, if there is a specific situation that you feel is causing her anxiety, it's essential to work on reducing that while using the other techniques.

For example, if you have multiple cats that tend to fight, you can work on reducing that stress by making sure you have plenty of resources available for all of the cats. That means having multiple food and water stations, lots of clean litter boxes, and all kinds of fabulous scratching posts available.

Some things that can serve as stress points for cats include:

  • Being bothered or harassed by another cat, a dog, or a person in the household.
  • Not having easy access to food, water, clean litter, beds, and scratching posts.
  • Loud noises from parties, fireworks, remodeling, etc.
  • Rearranging things in the home.
  • Going for car rides, and visiting the vet, groomer, or kennel.
  • Being sick.
  • Experiencing the loss or addition of a new human or animal housemate.
  • Decreased time available with primary caretaker.
Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.