Cats just don't like change. They may seem spontaneous, but no. They like a known schedule and no surprises (perhaps with the exception of when hunting). Even changes in your routine can be stressful (think weekend get-aways). Ever have a shouting match with someone in front of your cat? You'll see it bothers them as much or more than the person you're screaming at!
Like humans, cortisol hormones are released by the adrenal glands in physical response to stress. Adrenaline is also released, preparing the body to fight or flee, it's an invaluable reaction to escape danger, real or perceived. So while this reaction can be beneficial, over stressing can do the body harm. Lowered immune functions can lead to infections, including upper respiratory problems. Behavior changes are also a common result of too much stress. Agression to you or other cats, over-grooming, OCD symptoms or simply withdrawing into a hiding place are things every cat parent should watch for and prevent.
So what can be done about it? That takes us back to their comfort of known routine and surroundings. If you are moving to a new home, for example, try to reduce the shock of new surroundings by making sure to have their favorite items visible, toys, cat beds, anything with their scent -- or even worn clothes that have your familiar scent will lessen the anxiety of a new environment.
Another example is dealing with separation anxiety. When you are going away, try to create interest or appeal to your cat's natural hunting instincts. Leave their favorite treats hidden around the house that they can search out and conquer!. It will stimulate their minds and pre-occupy their time. Leaving a TV on the Animal Planet channel is another great technique to keep your cat entertained in your absence. Treat-dispensing toys (such as the Doyen Cat or Cats Love Big Bags) are great interactive solutions. We feature the Varram Pet Robot that moves around the house, dispensing treats all at your control by smart phone. Or, it can be pre-programmed to move on a set schedule. It's an excellent hi-tech way to de-stress your cat.
As good cat parents, we need to think like our cat and create an ideal household for them to thrive. Some of these simple ideas can go a long way toward the health of your cat.