Bringing a new member home can be a very thrilling experience. But when the concerned member is a feline, you may have to come face to face with some strange experiences. You may find your cat always running away when someone approaches him, or he may spend more time curled up under the bed and raids your home only when everyone is asleep? Well, this may be normal cat behavior or may have a deep-rooted cause. But the good news is that in any case, you can make your feline friend happy and comfortable with little effort and enormous patience.
Is my cat really scared, or is it his normal behavior?
When kittens or cats are introduced to a new environment, they tend to adapt to the change slowly. Despite having warm and friendly owners, they stay quiet and cautious for a few days or maybe weeks. However, some outgoing and bold cats get friendly with their owners in no time. Even if your cat shows the former attitude, there is nothing to worry about. A nervous or scary behavior doesn’t always imply that your new feline friend is unhappy. A wary cat eventually gets comfortable with the new household. All you need to do is to give your cat some time to adjust to the new environment.
How do you know if your cat is always scared?
Well, there is no rocket science in figuring out whether your cat is always scared. But if you are a new pet owner with little idea of dealing with pets and this strange behavior of your cat is making you anxious, you must read about the symptoms that manifest in scared cats. These symptoms can be sudden or chronic.
- Limited social interactions
- Decreased grooming
- Loss of appetite
- Hissing or spitting
- Not meeting gaze
- Ears dropped down and sideways
Chronic stress in cats
“Why is my cat always scared?” If this question persistently stays in your mind, the answer is right in front of you – chronic stress.
If your cat is taking way too much time to open up and get comfortable with you, or if your cat is behaving strangely, you must take it as a sign of chronic stress. Cats with chronic stress are always wrapped in a blanket of uncertainty. They are always cautious of unpredictable circumstances, which, in reality, may never manifest. Cats with chronic stress are always anxious and get scared of everything, even when they are in the safe confines of their home.
Looking deep into this topic, there could be many reasons behind this skittish behavior of cats. Past experiences and genes play a pivotal role in defining the attitude of cats that they bear for the rest of their lives. Cats’ personality traits like social skills, friendliness, and confidence are formed over a while with a strong influence from events and how they lived in the past. For instance, kittens that grew up in a safe environment develop into confident and friendly cats, while cats deprived of a safe environment during their growing stages grow up into nervous and wary creatures.
Lack of socialization during their early stages (between two and seven weeks) makes cats restive and skittish. On the flip side, many cats are born with anxious behavior. These cats, irrespective of growing in a safe environment and having frequent mingling sessions with humans and other animals, live as timid fellows.
Their anxiety can also be blamed on their robust survival instincts. Cats possess the ability to spot danger quickly, and hence, they respond quickly. Unfortunately, they act by running and hiding instead of facing the danger. These cats, whenever they find themselves subjected to an unfamiliar situation, assess that something wrong is happening. When the trigger is confirmed, fear wraps up their heads, leading to the release of adrenaline. This upsurge in adrenaline organically prepares them to face the situation by escaping or fighting. Some cats prefer the former option and escape the danger by hiding.
What scares off a cat?
Apart from “chronic stress” that may be bothering your cat, there are many other factors that scare off cats.
Here is a table that will help you understand various factors that play a vital role in deciding the cat’s behavior.
How to deal with it?
|The sense of smell in cats is over 14-times stronger as compared to us. Hence, it is natural for cats to feel conscious of a strong smell. Even if the smell is pleasant, it can make cats uncomfortable.||Avoid using strongly scented products around cats. Do not spray scented products on your cat’s fur, bedding, or even on the litter box.|
In case of pest control or whitewash at your home, you must move your cat to a safer place.
|Lack of social interactions can make cats wary of strangers.||A gradual introduction is the best way to deal with this problem. A new person must not throw himself/herself at the cat. Do not allow strangers to hold, cuddle, or caress cats. If you are having guests over, give your cat some time to get acquainted with new people.|
Other pets at home
|Other dominating pets can also make your cat uncomfortable.||Dogs can cause jitters in cats for obvious reasons. Other bossy cats can also scare your cat. If you have multiple pets in your home, it is advisable to provide a safe and secure environment for all of your pets, especially your cat.|
|Strong chemical cleaners and aerosols can take a toll on the well-being of your cat.||Never use strong chemical cleaners to clean litter boxes of your cat. Look for chemical-free and odor-free cleaning agents.|
|New animals, new people, or anything new in your home (product, furniture, etc.) can scare your cat off. Even the slightest change in your home can make your cat go berserk. The stress of this unwanted change in their environment can make them anxious and skittish. The change may trigger diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Your cat may go into hiding for a prolonged period.||Be patient and introduce changes slowly rather than abruptly.|
If you are planning on changing anything in your home, do it step by step. Give your feline some time to adjust to the change.
|Just like the smell sense, cats have a sharper sense of noise as compared to humans. No wonder they get scared of loud noises.||Pay attention while using vacuum cleaners or any other noise-making equipment in your home. Monitor the noise of the television.|
If any construction is going on inside or around your home, protect your cat from the noise.
Is your cat suited for your household?
Like humans, cats have different personalities. Every cat has its unique persona, and hence, they thrive in a certain environment. It is an important point to consider for all the cat owners out there. It is not necessary that every cat stays happy and contented with the home you provide to him/her.
Each cat has its psychology and hence stays happy in a household that understands this situation. For instance, cats that are very outgoing and seek attention are not suited for households with fewer members. The same way shy and timid cats are not suited for the households that always hustle and bustle with members and guests.
But, on the brighter side, the personas of cats change over time. It must not take you aback when your shy and anxious cat turns into a bold and confident one. All you need is a little patience to witness this change. If you keep forcing your cat to change her behavior, it will cause unnecessary stress.
Here is a table to help you understand how you can choose the correct cat for your household:
Type of Cat
Type of Household
|Kitten||Families without kids so that they have ample time and patience to handle the mischievousness of a little kitten.|
|Adult cats||Families with no time and patience for a growing cat. Adult cats with a well-defined personality and calmer attitude suit such households better.|
Also, families with no kids are better for adult cats, as some cats have a strong distaste for kids.
|Independent cats||Families that are away from home most of the time. Independent cats tend to take care of themselves well.|
|Lap kitty||Households that are looking for pets to cuddle and have a good time.|
|Long-haired cats||Families that can afford long grooming sessions.|
|Short-haired cats||Families with no time to upkeep their pets.|
How to handle an anxious cat?
Handling an anxious and scared cat requires lots of patience. Here are some tricks that will help you to conquer this territory.
- Let him live in his own way: This is the best way to restore the well-being of your scared cat. Do not constantly nag your cat; let him move around freely. The feeling of invisibility will make your cat comfortable. Do not cast any unwanted attention on him; don’t look at him, don’t call out, don’t touch the cat unless the cat welcomes this form of communication.
- Find out the triggers of fear: Try to find out the people he is scared of, places that make him anxious, sounds, and odors that make him uncomfortable. Try to keep these triggers away from your cat.
- Feed him with his favorite food: It is often said that a way to reach a man’s heart is through his stomach; the same partially holds true for the cat. If you want to establish camaraderie with your feline, try treating him with his favorite food – fish, meat, or anything that your cat likes. It will encourage the cat to spend more time with you. Sometimes, you can spare the bowl and offer the treat on your palms.
- Use toys and fun games: Another way to deal with a scared cat is to play dates. Cats love to play games. You can use toys such as JAIRON feather teaser and indulge in fun games. If your cat is too scared to come near you, attach the toy to a string. An interactive gaming session between you and your cat will also help in building his confidence.
- Keep your cat away from loud noise: The spring mating season can take a toll on scared cats. The noises of animals outside can make your cat very anxious. Protect your cat from these noises.
- Follow the routine: Anything that defies normalcy, even if it’s just a change in schedule, can trigger fear in your cat. Hence, you need to create a schedule for your cat. Make sure you have proper time for meals, grooming, and games to make your cat feel safe and secure.
- Be patient: Last but not least, do not get angry. Patience is all you need to lend poise and confidence to your feline friend. If the timid behavior of your cat is annoying you to the core, give yourself and your cat a break. Constantly forcing your cat to be normal and not succeeding in the same can make you angry, and if you yell at your cat in a state of annoyance, it will further make your cat anxious and fearful.
How to deal with the panic mode?
Scared cats can quickly jump into a panic mode when they can’t find a place to run away and hide, and this adds to their levels of stress. If ignored, this situation can wreak havoc on your cat because a cat in panic mode can stay upset for hours.
The best way to help cats recover from the panic mode is by allowing them to slip into solitude. Give your cat some space. Don’t forget to block the stimulations for some time. Do not follow your cat. Turn off the lights, draw curtains, and close the door. Set up kitty tents where the feline can hide to feel safe and secure.
Kitty tents are quite potent in building the confidence of a scared cat as they allow the cat to move freely without inviting unwanted gaze and attention.
Cats are very captivating. It is fun when they are around, but make sure you pay attention to your cat’s behavior and spend some quality time with your cat to keep him stress-free. If your cat is always scared, we hope this information will help you in creating a positive and homely environment for your cat.
All the best!