My Cat is Very Jumpy and Nervous – There are many fears of cats because they react to fear in response to a threat not always clearly perceived by the owner. The signs of a fearful cat are always evident, so it is important to know them and know how to identify them.
The Reason Why Your Cat is afraid Or Nervous
It is difficult to understand why the cat is afraid as it is an animal that lives in a continuous state of alert which makes it more fearful. It is not a question of fear in the true sense of the term nor of a state of anxiety, what the cat feels is a continuous state of hyper-vigilance, a constant alert to any possible source of danger.
This alert condition is in stark contrast to the image of contentment that the cat often presents. It may happen to observe a cat and see it so relaxed and “abandoned” that it seems immersed in a deep and peaceful sleep.
Instead, it is never like that as cats have a great ability to pass in a few seconds from this state of relaxation to that of active alertness, all because they live only in the present, they have no imaginary fears but are only frightened by dangers that could be real.
In nature, the cat, being a predatory and carnivorous animal, is used to living by being always alert, ready to defend itself and to hunt to survive, used to provide for its safety alone, without being able to take refuge in the pack. Cats are afraid only of what is right to fear.
The signs of a scared cat
Often a cat who is afraid tends to hide, perhaps reaching inaccessible places in the house.
It is able to remain hidden under a bed even for whole days.
In other cases, especially if caught off guard, his body expresses obvious signs of fear.
How to understand that the cat is afraid
- the tail is low or tucked up,
- ears are lowered back, almost flattened,
- the eyes are wide open and the pupils are dilated,
- he can yawn and lick his lips,
- in some cases it trembles,
- the weight on the shoulders and hips is straight,
- can crouch in an almost fetal position,
- the back is arched in the pose called “Halloween cat”, to look more menacing and bigger
What cats are afraid of
First of all it must be considered that the cat is a predatory animal and in nature fear is an essential reaction to survive.
It may happen that those who live with a cat cannot understand the reason for its sudden fear because often the danger is not caught by humans.
Even a slight, unexpected, unexpected and unknown noise can be perceived by the cat as a probable danger and therefore be afraid.
The most frequent fears of cats
- Cats are afraid of other cats
- Cats are afraid of strangers or unfamiliar people who enter the house, even more so if they are children
- Cats are afraid of other animals, especially dogs
- Sudden, loud, annoying noises generate fear in the cat
- Cats fear certain places, such as vets’ offices
- Cats are terrified of objects that they cannot identify or that are linked to negative past experiences, such as vacuum cleaners, scissors, when connected to nail trimming, boxes of medicines …
The cat is afraid of strangers
It is quite normal for a cat to be afraid of a stranger entering the house. It generally tends to hide or remain in the area but always alert. In particular they are afraid, or maybe just annoyed, by children because of their often high-pitched and annoying tone of voice for their ears.
It becomes pathological fear if the cat continues to maintain a constant state of terror even if the strangers are gone.
It is advisable to try to attract him gently, perhaps by offering him food. A good tactic to get him used to entering the house of new people is to set up the kennel near the entrance or to bring guests closer by offering them tasty treats. In this way he will associate the entry into the home of a stranger with food, thus becoming a welcome appointment.
Cats are afraid of the vacuum cleaner
Anyone who has a cat at home knows what happens when you turn on the vacuum cleaner. It is an object feared by the cat mainly because it is excessively noisy.
Having a particularly active hearing, the noise of the vacuum cleaner is perceived as something unpleasant, almost monstrous.
Furthermore, failing to clearly identify this “mysterious being”, they can only be afraid and run away. Even the washing machine can be feared by the cat because it sees it in motion and noisier. You can try to reassure him with distraction, for example by making him play or caress him, especially on the neck, a bit like mother cat did when he was a puppy.
Fear of another cat or other animal
In any case, it is the owner who must consciously manage encounters between unknown cats or between other animals. Contact between animals should never be forced but proceed step by step. Furthermore, there must be no favoritism, even if the new host is a puppy. The house cat must have time to regain its territory without additional stress.
Cats are afraid of cucumbers
There has been a recent spread in the media of films and videos depicting cats terrified by cucumbers placed next to the food. It is not a particularly strange and anomalous behavior when you consider that a cucumber, or a courgette, is mistaken by the cat for a danger , for example for a snake that is a deadly predator for the cat to fear. It is advisable to avoid these unnecessary fears to your cat and therefore not to scare him just for fun by putting a cucumber near the bowls.
The cat is afraid of a place
Who has no fear or tension in going to the doctor? Here, too, cats fear a visit to the vet because it is associated with something annoying, perhaps painful, an illness, an unpleasant moment in their life.
Furthermore, the cat is often transported by car , a means of transport not always loved precisely because it limits its freedom of movement.
What to do with a fearful cat
It is important never to scold a frightened and frightened cat and not to force him to do anything. Cats dislike physical constriction and fear will tend to increase . If you want to try to reassure a frightened cat, you can try to approach it by speaking in a low and calm tone of voice avoiding staring it straight in the eye because it would perceive the look as a further threat. You should never force a cat to do something especially if it shows signs of fear. Gratifying him with tidbits could be useful to calm him down.
But often nothing needs to be done. If there is no more serious pathology or behavioral disorder, the cat will calm down by itself, quickly passing from a state of agitation to one of calm, as if nothing had happened.
Scared cat: behavior and advice
What to do if the cat has suffered a trauma or is afraid. Symptoms, behavior and causes. Useful information on how to handle a scared cat.
Scared cat: behavior
The feline personality can be unpredictable and, out of the blue, we can end up with a cat in fear without even knowing why.
The behavior of a frightened cat can be characterized by aggression (for example, if it pulls out its claws and blows when afraid of a threat) or closure (for example, if it runs away or hides).
A more shy and introverted cat will respond to fear with withdrawal: it is in this case that the frightened cat hides or runs away .
The behavior of a frightened cat is also related to the extent of the threat (real or perceived by the feline). For example, if the cat is terrified, it may feel helpless, freeze because it is too afraid to run away.
The behavior of the cat, therefore, cannot be described in a generic way. There are many cases and the feline reactions are just as unpredictable.
The main symptoms that warn of cat fear are:
- if it runs away
- if he hides
- if it remains immobile even in the face of a threat (real or apparent)
- if you defecate and / or urinate abnormally, away from the litter box, in unusual places (a frightened cat poops or pees because it loses bowel and bladder control)
- if it engages in aggressive behavior
A behavior aggressive sees these symptoms : the cat blows, bites, scratches, tends to back away, ruffling the hair and tail, moves hysterically and lowers his ears.
Other physical signals :
- Dilated pupils
- Eyes wide open
- Crouched position
If the cat is suddenly scared , the reasons may relate to a trauma suffered and escaped your eyes: an insect may have stung it, a child may have played inappropriately with your cat … another animal threatens its territory (if you live in open countryside, even foxes and stone martens can cause fright).
Cat scared of dog
A relaxed cat, who feels comfortable in the territory in which he lives, is generally not frightened by a dog but even here there can be several cases. When can a cat be scared of a dog?
- If the cat has just been adopted and there is already a dog in the house
- If the cat is already at home and feels threatened (even if only territorially or emotionally) by a newly arrived dog
- If the cat has to face a large and / or aggressive dog
A bolder cat will not be afraid of a dog coming. On the contrary, a more shy cat could suffer a lot and be frightened not only for a possible fight with the dog, but also for the competition: the stake is the attention of the owner!
Scared cat: causes
If the frightened cat has just arrived in a new environment, don’t worry, it will be able to settle in and “take courage” within a few days. At this stage you just need to be understanding and patient and follow the advice in the paragraph on how to calm a cat who is afraid .
If the cat is already well integrated into its environment, there are several factors that can scare it, including:
- A very lively child
- A loud noise
- A sudden movement from someone or something
- A bug
- A new person, whom the cat has never seen
- A new animal that the cat has never seen
- Any stressful event such as a trip, a visit to the vet, a new flea treatment …
- The presence of another cat
As I anticipated, the cat can get scared suddenly and without an apparent cause: the feline has a perception of reality of its own. There are cases in which the cat completely changes its attitude when children arrive at home. What to do? We will explain it to you immediately.
How to calm a scared cat
A cat suddenly frightened must be treated with care and caution to prevent it from escaping as a result of the fright .
To calm the frightened cat, try to identify the triggering cause. For example: if the cat is scared of a dog , move the two animals away and manage the contact with gradual exposure. If the dog has just arrived (or if the cat has just arrived and is afraid of your dog), keep in mind that both animals need to get used to each other. Start by carving out separate spaces and make them come into contact with caution and especially a little at a time. Do not miss attention to either of the two animals.
If the cat is scared of a new human tenant (a new owner or partner who has just arrived in the house), familiarize the two by using food!
Food can calm the cat! Take some kibble in your hands and start a path of trust: lower yourself to the floor and stretch your arm so that the cat can eat from your palm.
For the occasion, use special kibble, which the cat has never eaten. In this way, the cat will project itself towards the novelty and it will be easier to overcome an immediate trauma or a strong fright.
If the cat is scared of another cat, just like the dog, be careful to allocate adequate space for both animals. Territoriality, between individuals of the same species, is even stronger!
Relax Your cat – How cats relax (which then relax us)
Maybe as the saying goes “the hasty cat makes blind kittens”, but our cats are true lovers of relaxation . Whole days spent on sofas, bunks and beds, lying down, sleeping or purring.
And finally, in moments of maximum activity, away with games and messes. But let’s see better how cats relax: how to calm them when they are agitated, how to make them play correctly, how to promote their relaxation and finally what benefits they derive from leisure, and what we can derive from us.
How to calm an upset cat
As we have said, the cat is an animal that loves to laze and relax. However, there are circumstances ( car trips, visits to the vet, thunder during a storm, the presence of strangers or other cats nearby ) that can make our cat agitated and nervous; and anyone who has found a cat in these conditions knows that it is very difficult, not only to calm it down, but even to deal with it. Here are some tips that can help us relax an ailing cat .
- To achieve calm, act calmly. Try to calm your cat by using a soft tone of voice . Treat him gently, letting him know that he poses no threat.
- Turn the situation around. Try to understand the cause of the illness and change the environment around your cat accordingly .
- Give it the right space. If you can’t change the environment, confine it to another quiet room , waiting for it to calm down. To move it use a towel and wrap it inside leaving the head out.
- The joke is good when it doesn’t last long. If the agitation persists, consult your vet who can determine if it is a symptom related to pain, disease or other problems. Additionally, your vet may find it appropriate to prescribe medical treatments to help your friend.
However, there are other innovative methods that can calm your cat , and relieve his stress.
Take it by the nose: Using Pheromones to Calm your Cat
The Pheromones are chemicals that are released by certain glands in the body of cats . These are found on the muzzle, back, paws and tail, and are used by cats to communicate with other specimens of the species. Some of these pheromones, such as facial pheromones, released by our cats when they mark their territory, can be used to calm stressed cats . In fact, these pheromones can reassure the cat , creating a feeling of familiarity and safety in him even in stressful situations, such as removals, furniture changes or during transport .
There are pheromone diffusers on the market to reassure cats . However, it is advisable to ask your veterinarian for a consultation, to understand whether or not it is appropriate to use it, especially if prolonged, at home.
Music to their ears: using music to relax cats
Apparently some sounds can also calm cats down . What is certain, however, is that our friends have totally different musical tastes from ours. Although certain classical music is notoriously appreciated by animals, our cats do not always prove to be admirers of great symphonies.
Some researchers from the University of Wisconsin have instead managed to select some frequencies, in line with the sound emissions of cats and their purr, creating some compositions that are able to calm our cats. Specifically, these sounds induce positive behavior in cats that results in repeated purring and continuous interest in the “melody”.
Not just relaxation. The importance of play and entertainment for our cat
The game, as for all animals, is a fundamental activity for the physical and social development of our cat. From the first months of life the kitten starts playing. By jumping and climbing, learn to explore the surrounding world; grabbing and jumping on objects, he puts his first hunting instincts into action. In all cases, play helps him develop muscle skills as well as intelligence.
Not only that: play is also important on an emotional level and in the relationship with others. A cat deprived of games, especially in the first few months of life, will suffer from affective deficiencies and will have difficulty socializing with other cats throughout their life.
The game is therefore very important for the training of the cat, and at the same time it can be used to give it a good education . Returning a good deed with a game, a prize or a reward is in fact the most effective way to educate him to behave well. This, therefore, like cuddles, caresses and treats, will help build and maintain an excellent relationship with your cat .
Purring therapy: how our cat can help us relax
Psychology today is unanimous in affirming that animals help prevent and treat states of anxiety, stress and depression. Starting from this assumption, the medical philosophy called Pet therapy was developed. For this reason, some hospitals and nursing homes, recognizing their therapeutic value, have introduced animals into their environments in order to effectively replace some drugs.
A research from the University of Minnesota, for example, carried out research on cats, noting that in addition to having a calming and relaxing power, the purr of our kittens can even reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke up to 40%, even in heart patients.
Establishing an emotional relationship with a cat (or any other pet) can be an important stage in the life of a sick person, an elderly person or – more generally – any other person.