Feline stress: what’s my cat got to worry about?

When my cat started losing the hair on her stomach, I felt utterly overwhelmed. I already had so many things on my mind, and so many things to do. Now I had to add wrestle meowling cat into box and shlep to vet″⁣ to the list?

Life is a lot right now for me. For all of us! To paraphrase Friends, it hasn’t been our day, our week, our month, or even our year. We’re all still reeling from the pandemic. Housing prices are through the roof. Petrol prices are sky-high. Half the supermarket shelves are bare. We can’t find lettuce for our salads, and even if we could, we can’t afford them. Interest rates are going up, Ukraine is going down, America is going to hell, and global warming ain’t going away.

We are all overwhelmed. We are all stressed.

If only I was my cat, I often think. How lovely it would be to sleep all day. How lovely it would be to have no responsibilities, no concerns, and no existential angst. How lovely it would be to have never heard of systemic racism, or inflation, or corruption, or the bear market, or the health care crisis. How lovely would it be to not have to worry about your children’s futures, or your electricity bill, or the flu!

. Sure, her nether regions were now completely bald, and she’d started to lose some hair on her right hind leg, but it was probably just eczema or fleas. If only all problems were as easily solved, I thought, as I carried her, whimpering, inside.

The hair loss is due to over grooming, the vet told me. .

My mouth fell open. She’s stressed? I’m stressed! The cat just sleeps and purrs! What is she stressed about? Global inequality? Job instability? Australia’s shameful treatment of refugees? Did she absorb stress from me by osmosis? And who is going to fall next? Are my houseplants going to develop anxiety?

She’ll need extra pats, extra treats, a firm routine, and some soothing pheromone spray, the vet continued. Do you have any questions? ″⁣

I had so many questions. What does the future hold? Will there be a ? ? ?

Will that work for humans? I asked. Can you prescribe me some soothing spray? ″⁣

The vet sighed. Quite frankly, she looked stressed too.

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