October 2012 Issue

Holiday Overload Can Affect Their Health

New people and situations can impact sleep, appetite, digestion, the immune system— even personality.

With shopping, traveling and entertaining, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be anything but relaxing. However, humans aren’t the only individuals to suffer holiday overload. Cats can also become stressed, and if prolonged, the stress can result in changes in health and behavior. “I could write a book about the physiology of stress,” says Germain F. Rivard, DVM, Ph.D., a resident in behavioral medicine at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “A cat under stress would change personality as he loses his coping mechanisms. Often, the reaction is avoidance with or without vocalizations, and if the cat cannot escape, he defends himself aggressively. That’s why it is important to create a safe place ahead of time.”

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