If your kitty jumps at every sound and fearfully scans the room for signs of a predator, he personifies the phrase “scaredy cat.” He probably hides under the bed or sofa all day, runs away from any sudden movements, and doesn’t let you touch him. Fearful cats may also relieve themselves outside the litter box or act aggressively without provocation.
These behavioral issues are unacceptable. Learn why your cat is scared of everything and how to help him overcome his fears.
Fear of People
Cats most often develop a fear of people if they’ve been abused or suffered a severe injury in the past. If yours is a shelter cat, he may have come from an abusive household or had an injury you don’t know about.
Your cat may run away from everyone, but if he acts comfortable around one particular person, have this person start coaxing the cat out of hiding with treats. Always speak in a slow, soothing, high-pitched voice and move slowly when approaching a fearful kitty. If he comes out of hiding on his own, ignore him and let him explore the environment on his own terms. Eventually he should become comfortable enough to let you pet him and feed him away from his hiding area.
Fear of Unfamiliar Objects
If your cat is afraid to enter a particular room and you don’t know why, assess the room from the cat’s perspective. Perhaps an intimidating ceiling fan, noisy radiator or squeaky door is scaring your cat.
To ease your kitty’s fears, try to lessen the impact of the scary object. For instance, if you have a black ceiling fan and a white ceiling, paint the fan white to help it look less like a giant predator lurking above.
Then start behavior training. This may involve giving your cat treats in the room he’s afraid of so he associates the scary object with something pleasant. Over time, the fearful association he’s made with the room or object should fade.
Fear of New Environments
As a cat who doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s scary to be taken to a new home with new smells and an unfamiliar floor plan.
To help ease the transition, make a safe room for your cat, complete with a litter box, food and water dishes, a comfortable spot to sleep, and access to a view out the window. Offer a few temporary hiding spaces, such as boxes turned toward the wall, to discourage him from setting up a permanent place under the sofa or bed. His fears should diminish as he grows accustomed to the new environment.
Fear of Vet Visits
Even the most laidback cat can lose his cool when the time comes to visit the vet. It begins with the anxiety-filled car ride and escalates with the presence of other animals and strange odors in the waiting room.
First, help your cat feel comfortable with the carrier by bringing it out of storage regularly. Place treats in the carrier with no threat of leaving the house to help him associate the carrier with something pleasant.
When your next vet visit arrives, cover the carrier with a blanket to make the car ride and time in the waiting room less stressful. Once in the exam room, open the carrier door and let your cat exit on his own terms. The team here at Germantown Vet Clinic will handle your cat gently and carefully to keep his stress level down and prevent injury.
The next time your cat needs to see the vet, choose Germantown Vet Clinic for a low-stress visit.