Cats suffering in silence ... But APBC can help

apbc helping cats

Has your cat become “lazy”? Has she lost interest in going outside or stopped playing with her toys? Is she living upstairs under the bed? Or is she having accidents with the litter tray? Does she just not seem “like her old self?”

All these could be signs of illness or pain, and the first stop should always be your vet to check that she is not suffering from a medical condition. If she gets a clean bill of health but the behaviour continues, then it could be a sign of chronic stress.
What upsets cats is often quite different from what upsets humans. According to two experts, Rachel Casey and John Bradshaw(1), cats get stressed by problem encounters with other cats, living conditions that offer no chance to do catty things, unpredictable changes in routine or surroundings, and, if they haven’t been brought up to be pets as kittens, unaccustomed closeness to animals or humans.
Cats can suffer so quietly that their owners can miss the signs. Dogs may chew the furniture, bark or growl at their owners, but cats cope by doing less, sitting motionless, and hiding away. They may eat less, use their litter box less and groom less. Some almost lose interest in life. This may look like laziness or even the sleepiness of old age, but it is a sign of emotional distress.
What is also difficult for an ordinary owner, is that individual cats vary a lot in what they find stressful. One cat in the household may be fine, while the other has taken to living under the kitchen sink. When dogs are stressed and behave badly, people often go for help to trainers or behaviourists. After all, we can change how dogs behaviour, can’t we?
Well, we can change how cats behave too. It’s not done in training classes, but it is done by help from a pet behaviour counsellor. As best selling author and APBC member, Vicky Halls, puts it, a pet behaviour counsellor’s job is “to unravel the mystery, identify the underlying issue and, God willing, and with a lot of cooperation from the client, put it right.”(2)
1. Casey, R., & Bradshaw, J. W. S., (2005), ‘The Assessment of Welfare’ in ed. Rochlitz, I., The Welfare of Cats, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Springer.
2. Halls, V., (2006), Cat Counsellor, London, UK. Transworld Publishers.
Celia Haddon
Provisional Member

Celia Haddon has a degree in applied animal behaviour, has written several books about cats, and spent 12 years answering readers’ queries about cat behaviour for The Daily Telegraph. For more information visit her website at