Get quick answers with our new vet-created Symptom Checker. Get Started
Causes of Sudden Aggression in Cats
You’re on the couch, petting your purring cat just like you have on many previous quiet evenings. She turns on her side as you rub her belly, and she kneads her paws in contentment. Then, before you know what happened, she hisses and bites your hand. What gives? What happened to turn your mild-mannered cat into Cujo?
Unfortunately, aggression is not uncommon in felines; in fact, it’s the second most common reason for a visit to a behaviorist. Sudden aggression in cats is a scary and frustrating problem for many owners, who fear the unpredictable nature of the kitty fury as well as the physical damage he or she can cause in the throes of an attack. In addition to the painful nature of cat bites and scratches, they can also transmit diseases such as cat scratch fever or serious bacterial infection. Cat aggression is truly no laughing matter.
What Does Aggression in Cats Look Like?
Although owners often report a cat attacking out of nowhere, cats often exhibit subtle changes in body positioning before launching into an actual act of aggression. These postures may be a clue in pinpointing the trigger for the aggressive behavior, as well as a much-needed warning before future attacks.
Defensive postures are intended to make a cat look smaller and position herself in a protective manner. These postures may include: crouching, flattened ears, turning away from the person, hissing, swatting at you, raised hackles, or a tucked head. A defensive cat is often experiencing fear or anxiety about a situation that may or may not be apparent to you. You can be the recipient of fear-based aggression even if you’re not the one causing the anxiety.
Offensive postures make a cat look big and intimidating. These postures include: stiffened legs
Moving toward you
Staring at you
In either case, you want to avoid interacting with a cat exhibiting these postures as they are on the brink of moving on to the real damaging moves. A cat in attack mode can move with startling speed and aggression, and inflict extensive damage in a very swift period when the mouth and all four paws are engaged.
What Causes Sudden Aggression in Felines?
Cat aggression falls into a number of categories. Taking a full and complete history about where the cat was located and what was happening right before the aggressive behavior began is a key component in determining the cause.
Fear aggression is triggered by a cat who perceives a threat that he or she cannot escape. This can be a learned behavior based on past experience, and you may not be entirely sure exactly what the cat is fearful of.
Aggression Due to Medical Issue
Aggression with a medical origin is also common.
Pain is the most sudden medical cause for sudden aggression, particularly in older cats or those who have always had a calm temperament. Arthritis, dental disease, trauma, and infections are just some of the conditions that can cause pain and subsequent aggression when a cat is touched or thinks he or she might be touched, in a painful area. In addition to pain, cognitive decline, a loss of normal sensory input, or neurological problems can all lead to aggression.
Territorial aggression happens when a cat feels an intruder is infringing on his or her territory. While often directed at other cats, people and other animals may be the subject of the aggression as well. Triggers may include introducing a new pet or even a new person into the house, a recent move, or new cats in the neighborhood.
Status aggression occurs when a cat attempts to run the house. Cats who growl when you try to move them, block doors, or bite you when you pay attention to another pet may be asserting themselves in this manner.
Petting-induced aggression, the type described in the opening paragraph, occurs when a cat who enjoys being pet suddenly changes his or her mind. It’s thought that the repetitive motion over time turns from pleasant to irritating.
Redirected aggression is one of the most unpredictable and dangerous types of feline aggression. In these cases, a cat is in a hyper-aroused state by some sort of external stimulus—an animal outside, squirrels running by that he can’t chase, a frightening noise or smell. In your blameless state, you walk by and wind up on the receiving end of this pent-up outburst, seemingly out of nowhere.
What Should I Do If My Cat Experiences Sudden Aggression?
The first stop any time a cat shows these aggressive signs without obvious provocation is your veterinarian. She can examine your cat and make sure he does not have a medical condition causing the unwanted behavior. If your cat has a clean bill of health, your veterinarian can refer you to a behaviorist who can help determine the triggers of aggression and the steps you can take at home to resolve the problem.
In many cases, simply being aware of the early signals of a cat about to freak out gives you the chance to remove yourself from the situation before it escalates to violence. While you can’t always control the causes of the anxiety, owners can often give the cat the space he or she needs to wind down without injuring anyone. With patience and some good detective work, many cats are quickly back in everyone’s good graces.
Want to learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of aggression in cats? Read an overview of the condition .
Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, is a person who loves too many topics to be able to stick to one descriptor: writing, dogs, communication, cats,...
Help us make PetMD better
Was this article helpful?
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Sign up for weekly pet health tips and insights from our veterinarians.
Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more .
Why Is My Cat Scared All of a Sudden? 6 Possible Reasons
Some cats are skittish, especially those that have not socialized with people. But sometimes, a social butterfly will turn into a shy recluse without warning. This behavior shift can worry cat parents who see their friendly and outgoing cat become nervous and frightened.
Keep reading to find out why your cat might start acting afraid and what you can do to help them feel more comfortable.
- Signs Your Cat Is Afraid
Some signs of fear in cats are apparent, like jumping when you try to pet the cat. Others can be less clear or overlap with medical disorders or other emotions, leaving pet parents unsure what their cat is trying to tell them. Here are some signs that your cat is feeling afraid :
- Hiding or freezing in one spot
- Meowing a lot
- Inappropriate elimination
- Restlessness, pacing, or running
- Change in appetite (increase or decrease)
- Expelling anal gland fluid
- Excessive grooming
- Dilated pupils
- Uncharacteristic aggression
Once you’ve ascertained that the problem is that your cat is afraid of something, you can start working out what’s got them spooked.
The 6 Reasons Your Cat Might Be Afraid
- 1. Age-Related Cognitive Issues
Cats experience a decline in cognitive function as they age, just as humans do. Some of the symptoms of this decline may resemble the behavior of a frightened feline. Cats with dementia may have accidents outside the litter box, move around without purpose, or appear agitated and scared.
- 2. Illness or Injury
Cats are instinctually inclined to hide symptoms of illness from their owners. Hiding symptoms of the disease is beneficial to wild cats who can conceal their status from opportunistic predators that might try to make a meal of an injured cat.
If your cat isn’t feeling well, they may exhibit uncharacteristic aggression when you touch or cuddle them, especially if you brush up against a spot that’s been tender for them recently.
Cats can also develop a fearful response in response to being mistreated. Cats that humans routinely mistreat may become frightened by all humans they interact with. If your cat is allowed outside, consider the possibility that someone nearby might be mistreating your cat, especially if your cat has unexplained injuries or is suddenly and uncharacteristically fearful of human contact.
- 4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Cats can be emotionally affected by their experiences so much that they can develop a fear response similar to a human’s “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis.” For instance, if your cat’s previous owner used to lock them in the closet, your cat may become fearful of dark or enclosed spaces.
- 5. Changes in Circumstances
Cats are also susceptible to change. They don’t handle changes in circumstances well, and some cats can be profoundly affected by things like moving or new people being introduced to them. Any recent changes to your circumstances or living situation could have triggered a fearful reaction in your cat as it tries to cope with the changes.
There are many types of anxiety present in cats. While the stereotype of cats is they are aloof loners, separation anxiety is actually one of the most common types of anxiety found in cats. Some cats get anxious when their owners aren’t home, and drastic changes to your schedule, such as starting a new job, will leave your cat stressed out.
Ways You Can Help Your Cat Feel Calmer
The good news is that often this behavior is temporary. Many circumstances that might cause a behavioral change in cats are things that the cat will eventually become accustomed to living with, and the fearful behavior should subside.
Here are a few things you can do to help your cat process their feelings better.
- 1. Provide Your Cat with a Safe Place
Fearful cats need a space to themselves where they can decompress safely when they’re overwhelmed. If your cat has claimed a spot in a room, it’s best to leave them there and make it as comfortable as you can.
Move your cat’s food, water, and litter as close as possible to their haven while leaving enough distance between the safe spot and the litter box that they won’t feel like they’re crapping in their living room.
- 2. Comfort Your Cat
If your cat is comfortable being pet and cuddled, do so to provide it with some reassurance when you see it acting afraid. However, if your cat moves away or rejects you, don’t force them to interact with you.
- 3. Play Soft Music or Leave the TV On When You’re Not Home
The background noise can be soothing to cats and help them feel comfortable enough to relax even when you aren’t home to comfort them physically. Keeping the air busy is a great way to help cats with separation anxiety. The background noise from the TV or music can make them feel like someone is home with them.
- 4. Consider a Pheromone Diffuser
Pheromone diffusers emanate a pheromone that cats produce to mark an area as safe for other cats in their colony. You can get a diffuser that uses oil with this pheromone to signal your cat that they are safe in their language.
Companies, such as Feliway, also produce collars infused with this pheromone that your cat can wear like a grounding bracelet. These can help your cat acclimate to their surroundings, especially if you’ve recently moved house or undergone other significant changes to your circumstances or living situation.
- Final Thoughts
It can be hard to see our cats suddenly suffer and scary to change their behavior suddenly . Luckily, a scared cat can be helped. It doesn’t even require a trip to the vet! Many anxious cats can be treated at home without any medical intervention!
However, if your cat is continually exhibiting fearful behavior , you should have them evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any physical or mental ailments. If necessary, your veterinarian can prescribe anxiety medication to help calm your cat down and provide you and your cat with a better quality of life.
- Related Read: Why Is My Cat Afraid of the Ceiling Fan? – 4 Possible Reasons
Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock
Luxifa is a freelance writer with a passion for animal science and technology. She loves to share the world of animal science with people to help them make informed decisions for themselves and their pets. Luxifa has worked in professional pet care for over six years and strives to help change the world of pet care by bringing the information people need to them in terms they can understand. Knowledge is power, and Luxifa loves to help everyone become the most informed they can be.
Munchkin maine coon cat mix: pictures, info, temperament & traits, how to choose your second cat: tips for finding a great friend for kitty, can cats eat apple pie vet reviewed advice, didn't find what you need use the search.
Excited Cats 2023 ©.
- Cats and Kittens
- Cat Supplies
No products in the cart.
Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden? (Reasons Why Cats Get Scared and Skittish)
If you are a cat owner, such a situation might be familiar to you. Your cat is lying next to you and then suddenly bursts out of the room.
I bet you have thought, why is my cat scared all of a sudden? I know I have...on many occasions
Such a strange behavior change can make you wonder what scared your cat so much?
There are several reasons why cats get scared all of a sudden.
This reaction might be linked to a change in the cat's environment, a loud noise, a new family member, pain, or a medical condition
The cause of your cat being a "scaredy-cat" could be a rather mixed bag.
Such things include phobias, cat anxiety, separation anxiety, a new home , signs of illness, and all the way through to chronic stress. So a varied bunch of cat behavior indeed.
Or 'Tiddles' could just be, inherently, a timid cat.
In this post, we'll talk you through the most common reasons behind “why is my cat so skittish” and offer tips on how to help your beloved pet get rid of fear.
The Reasons a Cat Gets Scared
A sudden fright.
So, you are thinking why is my cat acting scared all of a sudden? A lot of the time it is simply down to an object or a negative experience that has scared them.
And that can be varied!
It can be a plate falling on the floor and breaking, a spider crawling on the wall, or a loud clap of thunder.
If the thing seen or heard by your cat is unexpected for it, it can take fright and hide.
You will notice your kitty is scared if its hair goes up and it raises its tail.
If the source of fear goes away, your cat might recover from the shock within a couple of minutes.
Sometimes, though, your cat may become anxious and depressed and have trouble getting out of this state on its own.
You will have to take it to a vet who will prescribe anti-anxiety medication and give you tips on how to reduce the fear in your kitty.
A Change in Their Environment
Cats like things the way they are. A change in a cat's routine or a new environment can make them feel unwell and scared and they will display fearful behavior.
You might have hung a new painting on the wall, replaced the old wallpaper with a different color, or decorated the house for Christmas.
Even if it's a minor change, your cat will more than likely be the first to notice it. While some cats get used to the modification with time, others will fall into depression.
In that case, you will be better off removing the new decorations to make your feline feel better.
Read this next: Cat Won’t Stop Purring? (Why Your Cat Constantly Purrs – Explained)
A New Cat in The House
Bringing a new cat into the house might not be good news for your furry friend.
Let's start with the premise that cats don't like changes in their living environment. So a new member of the family can make them feel uncomfortable.
Then, a new cat means competition.
Your kitty will understand that it will have to fight for your attention and possibly for cat food and a sleeping spot with the new cat.
A feline that is larger in size might especially scare your furball as it knows that it might lose the battle easily.
Aside from larger adult ones, your cat might feel uncomfortable with a kitten too. While it may be used for adult and old cats, the little kitten might surprise it.
Truth be told, not all cats dislike the idea of taking a new feline into the house.
If they spend most of their time alone, they will be endlessly happy knowing that they will have a new companion.
Since cats are social creatures, they can easily create friendship bonds. There might be, though, a period of testing at the beginning where the cats will behave skeptically and be cautious towards each other.
As soon as they understand that the other cat is harmless, they will start to enjoy more time together.
A Newborn Baby in The House
Similarly to a new cat, a newborn baby can cause distress to your cat. If it's your first baby, the cat will be especially scared.
They will not be used to this small new person being in the house!
Can you blame them? We humans aren't used to them either!
They may run away and hide when hearing the baby crying or the baby monitor's alarm going off. When you bring your new child into the house, you'll notice that the cat will try to keep away from him or her.
Fortunately, your feline friend will get used to the new family member quickly and they may even become good friends.
A New Animal in the House
Do you plan to expand your family with a dog or a bird?
Your cat might not be happy with this news. Just like with a new baby or cat, a new pet might scare your kitty.
Let's say, you decided to bring a dog into the house. Since most cats are afraid of dogs due to their larger size, your cat will be shocked to see the new family member entering the front door.
And this is an understandable reaction.
After all, they see this as their territory being invaded.
Even if you introduce a new puppy , there is no guarantee your kitty will get along with it. In the first days, you may notice your cat retreating to a corner or hiding in a safe place. It will be more passive than usual and may even lose appetite. It will constantly avoid any encounter with the dog.
You should expect similar behavior with other pets.
Cats love to be the only ones, who receive all the attention from their human parents .
And when a new pet arrives, they get jealous, knowing that their owner will have to care for the new pet as well.
So even if it's a smaller pet that is prey by nature, like a rodent or a rabbit, your cat will get upset.
It's worth noting though that cats are less jealous of animals that are not handled, like fish or birds.
Here are some behavioral changes your cat may display with the arrival of the new pet:
1. The new pet may make different noises. Since they won't sound familiar to your cat, they may scare it.
2. The new addition will release specific smells. Your cat will want to explore them. So be careful and watch out for your cat so that it doesn't launch an attack on the fish tank or birdcage.
3 . Your cat will get less attention from you as you will have to care for the new pet as well. If you get a bunch of fish, a turtle, or other animals that are not handled, your cat will continue to get most of your attention.
4. Different types of new food will appear in the house. Your kitty may want to taste them so keep a watchful eye on it. Greedy eyes and tum!
Read this next: 10 Tips on How to Introduce A Puppy to Cats
Cat Fights or Kitty Bullying
When cats are alone in the room, they might get naughty. They can do things they wouldn't do in the presence of their owner.
For example, teasing, hissing, and cat fighting each other, if you have two or more cats.
So, if you see one of your felines dashing out of the nearby room visibly agitated, there might have been some bites, a kitty battle, or some sort of bullying act taking place.
If your felines don't get along, or there is a cat that permanently taunts the other one, tries to separate them.
Keep their beds and playing areas in different rooms so they don't meet so often.
Cat in Pain
If your cat gets scared all of a sudden and tries to hide, it might be related to a pain sensation it has just felt.
Cats are not capable to understand what is pain and why it hurts. So when the pain hits them, they will get into a panic and try to escape the unpleasant sensation by running away.
Escaping the room in fear is not enough, though, to make you understand that your feline is in pain. There are many other health reasons a cat can behave this way.
That's why you should look for other signs that confirm that the feline is struggling with physical pain.
First of all, if the pain is in the limbs, your cat will experience visible difficulties running and walking.
Limping and taking an abnormal posture can clearly suggest that your kitty struggles.
Also, they usually get lethargic, engage in excessive vocalization, and avoid socializing with others.
Sight or Hearing Issues in Cats
Cats with a sight or hearing impairment can get startled by things around them.
If your feline has trouble seeing, it will notice an object only when it gets close to it. Seeing the object all of a sudden can scare your cat.
Hearing issues may also lead to your kitty getting startled and running away in fear. For example, if another cat is approaching the impaired one from behind, it will get scared because it doesn't suspect that its buddy is there.
It's more difficult to understand whether or not your furry pal has a sight problem.
Detecting Kitty Impairments
Blow some soap bubbles in their direction and gauge their reaction.
Most puss-cats love the bubble game!
However, If the kitty doesn't turn its head in your direction, it's highly likely that it simply didn't them.
While home tests may help you spot a sight impairment in your cat, it's always better to address a vet to confirm the diagnosis.
With hearing it's easier. If the cat is not paying attention to you while you are talking and to other loud sounds, it might have lost its hearing gift.
Though, a vet visit and confirmation is needed. Sadly, sight and hearing loss in cats cannot be treated.
All you can do to help your kitty is to find a new way of interacting with it so that you don't scare it.
Read this next: Why Is My Cat Limping?
Scared by Something Outside
Cats do love looking out the window. If your kitty lays on the windowsill admiring the outside scene, then all of a sudden runs away, there might be something outside that scared it.
It can be a storm, a squirrel jumping from branch to branch, or the neighbor trimming the bushes with his loud device.
Such situations might be quite traumatic for some cats as they refuse to stay around the window for a long time after their unpleasant experience.
You may need to contact your vet to get advice on how to remove your cat's fear and make it want to go outside again.
How To Treat an Anxious Cat
If fear persists in your cat for a long period of time, there are some things you can do to help your furry friend get away from it.
- Avoid making major modifications to your cat's environment. If you have changed something in your house, try to keep the cat in an area that hasn't undergone any change.
- Provide your cat with its own space so it has a safe place to retreat when it feels in danger.
- If it's an event outside that scares your feline, like fireworks or a storm, shut the curtains and play relaxing music to calm your pet down.
- Reduce the things that strike fear into your cat. For example, do not play the music and TV loudly, and use a home appliance less often if its noise scares your cat.
- Use stress and anxiety medications prescribed by your vet.
- Take your cat to the veterinarian to get it checked for other possible health issues. There might be an underlying condition that makes your kitty scared all of a sudden.
- Spend more time with your cat. Pet it more often and give it the love and care it needs. Allow it to snuggle up next to you as it will give it a sense of security.
Each cat has a coping method that works best for them. If a method doesn't give the desired results, try a new one until you find something that helps your cat get rid of fear.
Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden? The Verdict
I hope this answers your 'why is my cat scared all of a sudden question. As you can see, there is a variety of reasons why your kitty has become a little nervous or anxious about something.
You have to remember, that cats are incredibly sensitive. They literally have ultrasonic hearing, and x-ray vision, and possess superhuman reactions.
No wonder they can appear a little 'on edge' at times.
Read this next: Why Does my Cat Scratch the Wall?
About the author
Dexter Jones has been a solid member of the ‘Mad Cat Dad’ club since time began! Dexter has been a keen cat writer for many years and lives in Croatia. He lives with his two tabby cats, Milly & Marly, who also flew in from the UK to start their new Adriatic island life together.
Why Is My Cat So Scared of Everything All of A Sudden?
If your cat is hiding or fleeing, then it’s feeling unsettled. It’s afraid that it’s at risk of harm or even that its life is in danger. If your cat’s demeanor has changed suddenly, there’s likely to be a fear-based explanation.
If your cat is suddenly scared of everything, consider if anything has changed in its living environment. Disruption to its routine, such as moving furniture and different people, can make cats skittish. Loud noises, predatory animals, pets, sickness, and injury can make cats feel more vulnerable.
Managing the needs of a scared cat requires a calm, relaxed owner. In fact, owner anxiety will make a worried cat feel even more jittery. You need to calm down your cat, but how you approach this depends on the cause.
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Frightened?
Cats like to project confidence and fearlessness, but this isn’t always how they feel inside. Cats are skilled at hiding their fear and trepidation as they don’t like people to know that they feel afraid or vulnerable.
If your cat has hurt itself, you may not know about it. Cats do all they can to disguise signs of physical injury. Your cat worries that injury is seen as a weakness, which could lead to them losing territory or dominant status .
The same applies to illness. Cats hide their pain but will be frightened by ill health. For example, according to Hormones and Behavior , parasitic infections (roundworms, tapeworms, heartworm, hookworms, and whipworms) cause anxiety as cats don’t understand what’s wrong with them.
The mistreatment of cats is a broad definition. Your cat may have been physically struck years ago. Unfortunately, certain scents and locations can trigger memories of this past traumatic event.
Scolding a cat for unwanted behaviors leads to anxious behavior. Anxiety and skittishness are likelier when punishment happens after the action because cats don’t link scolding to behavioral issues. Your cat will become nervous, wondering if it will be punished again.
What Makes Cats Feel Afraid?
Cats have an array of fears and phobias based on their instincts. Most are rational, but not all.
Common things that cats are afraid of include:
- Loud noises
- Changes to routine or schedule
- Unfamiliar people or pets in the home
- Wide-open spaces
- Predatory animals
- Visiting the vet
- Separation from an owner
- Traveling by car
Any of these issues can trigger a frightened response in a cat.
Anxiety takes its toll on cats. As per Applied Animal Behavior Science , stressed cats have much higher cortisol levels. Cortisol is colloquially referred to as the stress hormone. This explains why your cat is feeling on edge.
What are the Most Common Scared Cat Behaviors?
The signs of a frightened cat include:
- Freezing on the spot
- Eliminating outside its litter box
- Scenting from the anal glands
- Uncharacteristic aggression
- Frantic grooming to self-soothe
- Constant vocalization
- Refusal to eat, or eating to excess
- Pacing around
All cats will display these behaviors occasionally, but your cat shouldn’t be constantly frightened and skittish.
Helping a Cat to Cope with Change
Cats are creatures of habit, so changes to their routine cause significant anxiety. If your cat doesn’t feel secure, it’ll feel increasingly nervous.
The most significant changes a cat can undergo are:
- A new living environment
- Getting a new pet
- Arrival of a new person or baby
A cat will notice if its owner is missing for longer than normal. Likewise, cats experience bereavement if a person or animal companion dies.
Living in a New Home
Moving home is overwhelming for cats because everything they know has changed. This means that a cat needs to learn everything all over again.
This is where a cat’s fear of open space comes to the fore. Until you unpack, the house will be bare. Your cat has lost all preferred hiding places. It needs to learn the new lay of the land and will be nervous until this happens.
Focus on providing your cat with some hiding spaces. Every time you unpack a box, leave the box on its side. Space these boxes around your new home, and your cat will feel more safe and secure.
Unpack familiar items for your cat. Furniture that carries your cat’s scent will have a calming effect. Ensure your cat has familiar toys and trees.
Adhere to your cat’s former routine and provide plenty of one-on-one attention. Feed your cat when it would expect to be fed.
Adjusting to a New Pet
The arrival of a new pet can deeply unsettle your cat. Cats are territorial by nature, and sharing a home with a potential rival could cause anxiety. Also, a new animal may bully an existing incumbent.
When introducing a new cat to your home, take the process slowly. Keep the new cat locked in a room until accepted by your existing pet. Introduce the two cats through a gate so that they can learn each other’s scents.
Feed the cats in separate locations. Provide each animal with its own food bowls, water supply, litter boxes, toys, and bed. Play with your cat and provide one-on-one attention.
New Home Resident
Cats grow used to the humans that share their home. When a new resident arrives, a cat will be perturbed. Babies will cause particular consternation.
Babies are loud and demand attention that used to go the cat. Your cat will become vocal and clingy, afraid that it has been replaced. The cat is imitating the behavior of the baby.
Friends and partners can also frighten cats. New people bring new scents, sounds, and behaviors. The cat will be initially afraid of this new person.
Once the cat starts marking the human, bonding can begin. Cats recognize humans by voice, not sight. The more a cat hears a new human speak, the sooner it will start to overcome its fear.
Cats have good hearing. Loud noises , especially short and sharp sounds, are stressful to cats. These unsettling background noises include:
- Garbage trucks
- Emergency vehicle sirens
- Household appliances, such as vacuum cleaners
- Thunder and lightning
- Home improvements
- Street works
Fear of Predators
As the Journal of Animal Ecology explains, the animal kingdom is divided into three tiers. These are prey, mesopredators, and superpredators. Cats are mesopredators. This means they are the hunters and the hunted.
Your cat may have encountered a predator in your yard. This will provoke significant, prolonged fear. Cats are driven by instinct and are always on the lookout for threats.
Wild animals that prey on cats include:
- Birds of Prey
If your cat has become nervous, keep it indoors, especially at night. Over time, your cat will calm down and feel secure again. Until this happens, provide reassurance and a safe environment.
Separation Anxiety in Cats
If you leave your cat alone for a prolonged period of time, it may develop separation anxiety. The cat will be clingy and nervous when you return. Your cat is worried that you may leave again.
You will need to rebuild your cat’s trust and show your cat that you will not abandon it. You may have to help your cat realize that you always return home after a period of absence.
Expose your cat to a short time apart from you. When you return, offer your cat food so that it starts to see your return as a positive. Your cat will not fear your departure and look forward to your return.
Fear of the Dark
Despite often sleeping through the day , cats are not nocturnal. Felines are crepuscular. Crepuscular animals are most energetic at dawn and dusk.
Many domestic cats enjoy the darkness. Your cat’s night vision is not perfect, but it’s superior to that of humans. Domestic cats use the stillness of the night to explore and hunt. If your cat has developed a sudden fear of the dark, there are 3 explanations:
- The cat experienced a frightening experience at night
- The cat is fearful that you will not respond to its wishes at night
- The cat has developed cognitive dysfunction syndrome
If your cat ventures outside at night, it may have encountered a predator. The cat is afraid of reliving this experience. Keep your cat indoors at night. Play and feed it late in the evenings so that it’s more inclined to sleep.
Cats know that, while you are asleep, you will not provide attention. Your cat may be nervous and feel that it has not spent enough time with you. You may have forgotten an important activity.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome impacts senior cats, typically older than 15 years. As explained by Veterinary Clinics , the symptoms include anxiety and clinginess, especially during the small hours of the morning.
Cats with cognitive dysfunction syndrome experience a reversed sleep-waking cycle. This makes the senior cat anxious and vocal at night . Your cat will become distressed at being parted from you while you’re asleep.
What Can Be Done About My Cat’s Nerves and Anxiety?
If you have attempted lifestyle changes to no avail, then your cat may have a generalized anxiety disorder. This is an illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
A vet can prescribe anti-anxiety medication, but cognitive-behavioral therapy may be recommended before going down this path. Many vets consider exposure therapy to be an effective treatment for feline phobias.
Exposure therapy involves turning a negative experience into a positive experience. Expose your cat to whatever makes it nervous before offering play, petting, and grooming.
When the cat starts to calm down, offer it a treat. Your cat may start to look forward to something that previously provoked a fear response. If not, it will at least begin to become more tolerable.
An effective way to deal with a cat with generalized anxiety is to pretend it is invisible. Go about your daily routine as normal, and avoid unnecessary loud noises or routine changes.
Maintain your cat’s medication if it has a prescription. Continue to work on overcoming your cat’s fears. The following will start to calm your cat:
- Light scented candles, such as lavender or frankincense
- Play feline-appropriate music
- Give the cat more space
- Do not handle the cat too much
- Provide hiding places
Use of natural herbs to calm down an anxious cat. If the cat shows no negative reaction, gradually increase exposure. Suitable herbs include:
- Chamomile, such as dried flowers or tea
Given time, many cats do begin to calm down. A cat with a generalized anxiety disorder may always be nervous, and such cats just need a peaceful living environment, affection, security, and understanding.
3 thoughts on “Why Is My Cat So Scared of Everything All of A Sudden?”
I just hate to see my cat of 16 years be so afraid,I have been all she has had all her life,I have never swatted her are any thing,she has been a good cat,I have been very good to her an she has been company to me,I live alone an she has been all I have had for 16 years,I hate to see her afraid of me I love her very much, thanks for your reading,
I’m so sorry, Jane, and can deeply empathize with you….my Maine Coon, Layla, turned 16 mid July and she’s declining fast. She hides under the couch all the time, scared all the time, and all I’ve done is love her and put her first in my life. She does have CKD and has now been diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma in her swollen shoulder. Two months ago, out of nowhere, a male feral cat attacked her from behind, and at that point she was defenseless. This happened right in front of me and I was able to chase him off. Layla hasn’t been the same sense. She eats her prescription wet and kibble diet well, drinks quite a bit, bottled spring water, and she uses her litter box next to the couch. I’ve had to put her water and food bowls under the couch with her. I was hoping she could pass here at home with me. I’ve been doing a lot of praying over the situation, and am coming to the conclusion it may be time to put her to sleep. I’m old now, she’s all I have- no family, no friends- and since the first of March her decline has wreaked havoc within me. But I love her no matter what, and am very thankful she was put into my life. On another note- Veterinary medicine has declined severly. The majority of them really only care about money, and they’re not very good at what they do. Arrogance and lack of work ethic runs high in them. I suppose it’s a generational thing. Thank you for listening.
Exposure therapy? Sorry but that’s terrible advice. You don’t flood the cat with the thing that’s scaring her and just hope she’ll get used to it. If she ends up shutting down because she’s terrified and there’s no option to escape, owners might mistake that for calm behavior when it’s the complete opposite. Instead you should be using a tailored protocol of DS/CC. Please revise this, because your advice is just really irresponsible.
Leave a Comment Cancel reply
Save my name and email in this browser for the next time I comment.
My Cat Is Scared of Something I Can’t See! (Advice)
The other day my neighbor said to me, “It’s the strangest thing, my cat is scared of something I can’t see. But she’s really spooked out, and jumpy around me now.”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not that unusual.
Cats have heightened senses . Sometimes something can scare, spook, and confuse them that we barely notice.
If this is happening with your kitty, it’s important you do your best to find out what’s scaring them.
Cats that are frequently spooked or scared will become withdrawn, jumpy, and it’ll have a negative effect on their health in the long run.
Here are some tips to help you find out what’s scaring your kitty, and how to help them live a more stress-free life:
Table of Contents
Why Does My Cat Get Scared of Nothing?
The thing is, it’s not “nothing” that’s scaring your cat. It’s something.
It may be something you don’t see or hear, but it’s something they can see or hear if it’s spooking them.
If it’s a sound, it can be something like a high-pitched noise in the distance. Or, maybe even an electrical device in your home making a noise that’s confusing them that you can’t hear or are so used to you don’t pay attention to it.
If they act like they’ve seen something that’s bothering them it may have been a quick flash of light, a shadow, anything that catches their eye.
Remember, cats are smart, but if they see a shape or a color they aren’t able to interpret exactly what is or understand the level of threat it presents like we are.
You’ll probably know this from playing around with your cat. If you’ve used a laser pointer , you’ll know your cat can’t tell the difference between a dot of light on the floor and something physical.
They literally try to grab the dot of light, don’t they? Then they’re confused when it’s not under their paws.
The same with shadows. I always make shadow shapes and mess around with my cats watching them chase shadows.
Cats are also highly tuned to feel vibrations. Someone walking around in a room above them can cause confusion.
They’ll hear a noise and feel vibrations all around them, but they don’t know it’s just someone in the room above.
How Can You Tell If a Cat Is Scared?
If it happens once in a while, there probably isn’t a lot you can do and it’s not likely to cause a heightened state of stress for your cat.
If it’s happening on a regular basis, however, and your cat is becoming jumpier you need to do something about it.
Here are some of the behavioral changes to look out for that are signs your cat is getting spooked on a regular basis:
- Jumping up and running away
- Urinating or pooping outside of their litter box
- Being aggressive
- Not coming out for food on a regular basis
- Acting withdrawn from you
Related – Why does my cat sleep under the bed ?
How to Help You Cat If They’re Getting Spooked
There are a couple of parts to solving this;
- Trying to stop whatever it is that’s scaring them, and
- How you treat them while they’re scared
Identifying the Reason
The first thing you need to do is try to identify what’s scaring them. Does it happen at a certain time of day? Maybe only in a particular room?
Start narrowing down what’s happening at the time they get spooked.
It could be something as simple as the front door slamming, you entering a room, the way an object in the room reflects light, and so on.
Once you know – or at least have an idea of – what’s scaring them, you can do something to stop it.
Also, be prepared for it to be something that may seem silly to you. For example, a ceiling fan is a really common reason for cats all over the world being scared out of their wits.
The spinning of the blades, the noise, the way it causes shadows and light to flick around the room. It’s like they’re designed to annoy cats!
Every cat is different, too. It could literally be almost anything, and it may be that if you have two cats your other one isn’t bothered by the same things.
I had one cat that you’d think was deaf. He wouldn’t move or raise an eyelid or an ear for anything while he was sleeping.
Unless he heard me shaking his food container !
That’s a good thing though, it shows he felt completely safe and secure letting his guard down. Or was he just lazy….
Helping a Scared Cat
It’s hard seeing a cat stressed or scared. They don’t show emotions as we do, and will often hide how stressed they are.
But as owners, we can tell when our cats are sad. Can’t we?
Here are some basic things to do when your cat is scared:
- If they’re hiding, don’t force them to come out. Leave them alone so they can calm down and lower their stress response levels. They’ll come out when they’re ready. It’s even more important that you tread lightly and don’t scare them again once they do come out.
- Make sure they’re eating and drinking enough. Top up their bowls and keep an eye on how much they’re eating and drinking. Stressed cats will often stop drinking and eating, and even just 24 hours without water is cause for concern.
- Don’t try and fuss them to make them feel better. Most cats don’t want a big hug like we would if we’re fearful or scared of something. They typically prefer time alone, so respect that.
You can try to resolve this by giving your cat melatonin as I’ve written about earlier. This helped when my cat was having an issue where she was retreating to the back of my bed.
Hopefully, after reading this article you’re now able to better understand why your cat is being scared by something you can’t see.
It really comes down to a 2-step process; find out what’s spooking them, and resolve it so they can go back to feeling safe and secure in your home.
It’s usually not that difficult. I’ve had this come up with a couple of cats myself over the years, and I helped my neighbor solve it who came to me with the same problem.
Image credits – Header photo by Ariana Suárez, hidden cat photo by Thomas Bormans, Tabby cat photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash
Can you get high from cat pee the truth about this urban legend, 75 swedish cat names [male and female], why do mother cats attack their older kittens experts findings, leave a comment:.
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
There are no items in your cart.
Why Does My Cat Get Spooked Easily?
Ellen Carozza LVT
June 26th, 2015
Find out why cats are so sensitive and ways you can help minimize their anxiety.
Cats are “on guard” 24/7. They never rest for a full night’s sleep like we do. They have several cycles of sleep during the day (hence cat naps!). While your cat does have a REM cycle, they do spend more time in non-REM sleep during the most active hours.
Our domesticated cats are still predators, and predators are always on the lookout for prey or another predator that could be watching them. Cats that continue to act in a fearful manner tend to have a valid reason for acting that way. Whether your cat lacked proper socialization as a kitten or have been targeted by another pet in the house, could be why they are on guard all the time. Stressful living conditions or even an underlying illness could be contributing factors that should not be ignored as well. All of these are good reasons to contact your veterinarian for help in this situation.
Sensitivity of Cats
Cats are sensitive creatures and, as a cat owner, you need to understand and accept them for what they are. A cat is a creature of habit, and some habits (such as running and hiding when friends come over) can be quite hard to break. Some cats never get used to a situation no matter how often they are exposed to it. Often removing the offending action remedies the situation, but not may be ideal for everyone involved. You must remember to respect that your cat is stressed and, as and owner, you need to find out the contributing reasons of the anxiety so you both can have a long lasting relationship together.
How to Reduce Your Cat’s Stress
What you can do at home for your cat is give it plenty of spots to retreat for safety. It could be as simple as a cardboard box with a blanket inside. Many cats love vertical territory and enjoy being up high to watch what is going on and they are out of harm’s way. The use of a feline synthetic pheromone that mimics a cat’s facial pheromone when they mark territory as safe and secure can make a huge difference to a fearful cat. What is feline synthetic pheromone?
Other natural products to help reduce stress can be utilized as well. Royal Canin makes a diet that has been specifically formulated to reduce stress in cats that contains a hydrolyzed milk protein and tryptophan (an amino acid) to help maintain emotional balance of the cat. Calming supplements for pets that contain chamomile, valerian, ginger and tryptophan have been known to help naturally reduce anxiety.
Before you embark on starting any home treatments speak to your veterinarian to discuss any diagnostics that should be done and work out the correct treatment course for your cat.
http://www.intropsych.com/ch03_states/rem_sleep_in_cats.html (Psychology: An Introduction by Russell A. Dewey, PhD.
Chapter 3: An Introduction to Consciousness: Part 2, REM Sleep in Cats (retrieved 12/27/2014) http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/helping-a-fearful-cat/ and http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com/is-your-cat-stressed-out/
Pam Johnson-Bennett: Helping and Fearful Cat and Is Your Cat Stressed out? (Web articles retrieved 12/28/2014)
http://www.feliway.com/us/ FELIWAY, The Secret to Happy Cats: a product. (Retrieved 12/28/2014)
http://m.royalcanin.us/site/calm/ Calm Diet: product. (Retrieved 12/28/14)
Like this article? Sign up today for our FREE newsletter!
- Receive the latest, most useful health and wellness articles, tips, special discounts on nutritional supplements and so much more. Just amazing and timely information at your fingertips!
Join 100,000+ Happy Subscribers
Requirements for using and reposting articles
Our Natural Wellness Pets newsletter is filled with articles you'll love to read including quick pet care tips, recipes, exclusive discounts, and much more.
- No categories
- Article Permissions
- Author Biographies
FREE standard shipping only available in the contiguous United States.
- Cat Behavior
Cat Screaming — What It Sounds Like and What It Means
Is your cat screaming — or are you not sure what this cat noise sounds like and why do cats scream let’s talk about what causes cat screaming and which cats are most likely to scream..
- Written by: Angela Lutz
For those who have heard a cat scream, the sound is unforgettable — a piercing, multisyllabic yowl that shocks the senses and demands your undivided attention. A screaming cat can wake you from even the deepest sleep. Cat screaming may conjure up Halloween-type images of arched backs, extended claws and bared fangs. And most importantly, cat screaming can scare the crap out of humans and other cats alike, which is often (but not always) exactly what the screaming cat intended.
What does cat screaming sound like?
If you’ve never heard a cat scream, perhaps you’ve been to a haunted house? You know those spring-loaded, shrieking ghouls that jump out of the walls at the moment you least expect it? Yeah — that’s about what it’s like the first time you hear a cat scream — particularly if it’s your cat who’s screaming.
Related: Let’s Talk Angry Cat Sounds and How to Handle Them
If you need a reminder that these cute, cuddly creatures we love so much come fully loaded with the instincts and equipment to hunt and kill their prey, just listen to a cat screaming. It’s a gut-wrenching, primal sound, and cats use it to convey a wide variety of emotions.
A cat screaming sounds a lot like a human screaming, except a bit more urgent and desperate — kind of like something out of a horror movie. The sound can rise and fall in intensity like crashing ocean waves, or cat screaming can be sudden and shrill, the equivalent of a human yelling, “Hey! Watch it!”
Here’s a video of cat screaming to demonstrate:
Note: For a cat who is screaming at an outside cat, cover the windows or doors so that your indoor kitty can no longer see the outdoor cat. A (gentle!) towel throw (similar to what’s done at the end of this video) should also help distract and diffuse the situation.
What is cat screaming?
A “scream” is just one of the hundreds of sounds cats can make. In fact, cats are extremely vocal animals , capable of making nearly ten times as many sounds as dogs. But the cat scream is exactly what it sounds like – a sustained, high-pitched vocalization that is often accompanied by growls or yowls. Cat screaming is instantly and utterly distinctive — there’s no mistaking this sound for anything other than what it is.
Cat screaming is fairly uncommon, which is probably why it sounds so shocking. The time of day cat screaming usually happens makes this sound even more alarming. You’re more likely to hear cats screaming while it’s dark out and you’re trying to sleep for the simple reason that cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk — and that includes fighting outside your bedroom window, of course.
Why do cats scream?
One of the main reasons cats scream is because they’re angry or afraid — hence why cat screaming often happens during cat fights. According to cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy , “The sympathetic nervous system kicks in with the ‘ fight or flight ’ reflex; if there’s nowhere to flee, the only option is to fight. A fear-aggressive cat is extremely fearsome in itself; this is a cat that can hurt you, badly. Be very careful!”
Cats don’t only scream out of aggression , though. Cats may also scream when they are ill . Galaxy recommends staying on top of veterinary checkups to catch any health concerns before they become so severe as to warrant one of those cat screams. Aging cats can show signs of confusion or dementia , and they may scream if they get startled or fearful of their surroundings.
Cats may also scream if they’re in distress. Ever accidentally locked your kitty in a closet? She probably wasn’t shy about communicating her displeasure with your unintentional negligence. And if you’ve ever accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail, you’ve also probably been privy to some cat screaming — you may have been so alarmed that you screamed yourself!
Finally, cats might scream while mating or while searching for a mate. Needless to say, screaming cats are not concerned about waking the neighbors.
Which cats are more likely to scream?
As is the case with most behaviors, certain cats are more likely to scream than others. Two major factors are the cat’s temperament and environment — is the cat living in a multi-cat home where he regularly needs to establish his dominance in the social hierarchy? Is he easily over-stimulated or startled? Was he handled roughly as a kitten? All of these aspects of a cat’s home and development can make him more or less likely to scream.
Additionally, unaltered cats who aren’t spayed or neutered are more likely to scream out of aggression or due to hormones. When I first adopted my calico cat, Phoenix, she was in heat , and she wandered around the house screaming at night for several days until I was able to get her spayed.
Galaxy offers this bit of advice: “Intact cat aggression includes both maternal aggression (totally normal behavior in a new mother when defending her kittens), and territorial tomcat aggression. Intact cats, both male and female, tend to be more aggressive as well as highly territorial; and they are also apt to spray urine on any and all convenient surfaces. The solution: spay/neuter, of course!”
Featured photo: ©csivasz | iStock / Getty Images Plus.
Read Next: Caterwauling — What Is It and Why Do Cats Do It?
- Tags: Behavior
About the Author
Angela Lutz is a writer and editor who has been fascinated by felines since childhood. She has more than a decade of experience writing about everything from health care and books to yoga and spicy food. She has written for Catster since 2012. Angela lives near Kansas City, Mo., with her husband, son and three cats.
Get Catster in your inbox!
Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
2023 Cat Photo Contest Winners
- Annie Butler Shirreffs
What’s Up with Pumpkin?
- Arden Moore
Best Buddies for Life
- Deborah Barnes
© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.
Where To Buy Sign Up & Save
- FIND THE RIGHT FOOD FOR YOUR DOG
Shop by Age
- Adult (1-6) Dog Food
- Adult (7+) Dog Food
- Adult (11+) Dog Food
Shop by Brand
- Prescription Diet
- Science Diet
- Bioactive Recipe
Common Health Conditions
- Food & Environmental Sensitivities
- FIND THE RIGHT FOOD FOR YOUR CAT
- Kitten Food
- Adult (1-6) Cat Food
- Adult (7+) Cat Food
- Adult (11+) Cat Food
- Skin & Food Sensitivities
- Our Company
- Nutritional Philosophy
- Quality & Safety
For Pet Parents
- Information for New Pet Parents
- Articles and Education
- Puppy Nutrition
- Kitten Nutrition
- Food, Shelter & Love Program
- Natural Disaster Support
- Shelter Partners
- Pet Adoption Resources
- Contact Hill's
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Chat with Us
- Press Releases
Cat Anxiety: Understanding Your Stressed Cat
Learn more about Hill’s commitment to sustainability
Find food that fits your pet’s needs
Find a dog food that fits your pet’s needs, find a cat food that fits your pet’s needs.
You may tease someone for being a "scaredy-cat" or even get a chuckle when something startles your kitty and makes them jump. But a fearful, anxious cat is no joke. Cat anxiety can be a serious problem, especially if left untreated. If you think you might be dealing with a stressed cat, keep reading in order to understand what's going on with your kitty and how you can help them.
Cat Anxiety Explained
Potential causes that may result in a stressed cat are wide and varied. Cat anxiety may be caused by pain or illness, exposure to something toxic or infectious diseases that affect the nervous system. A psychological trigger may be to blame, like a traumatic experience, lack of proper socialization or a history of abuse or neglect. An aging brain can also cause anxiety, especially in senior cats experiencing memory problems or dementia. Joint pain in older cats can also be a source of anxious behaviors, such as hiding or failing to use the litter box. Other potential causes of cat anxiety can include new or moved furniture, new pet or baby in the home, or even a new home.
One of the most common forms of cat anxiety is separation anxiety, in which your cat becomes anxious and stressed when you leave their sight or when they are left home alone. This is especially prevalent among cats with a history of abandonment or who have been rehomed or passed from owner to owner, according to PetMD.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), characterized by exaggerated, repetitive behaviors, can also affect cats. Causes of OCD in cats aren't really known, and as such it's generally characterized as a mental disorder, although it can be initiated by stress. Pet parents may unwittingly reinforce OCD behaviors by trying to soothe their cats or giving them attention while they're doing the unwanted behavior. It should also be noted that some breeds are genetically predisposed to certain obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Siamese and other Asian breeds are particularly known for these types of behaviors.
So how can you tell if you have an anxious cat?
Watch for the Signs
An anxious kitty isn't too difficult to spot. Some signs and symptoms of general cat anxiety include:
- Withdrawal and hiding
- Becoming less active
- Trying to escape
- Destructive or aggressive behavior
- Failure to use the litter box
- Sores and lesions resulting from over-grooming
Other symptoms include a loss or reduction of appetite, weight loss, excessive vocalization, lethargy and restlessness. OCD can be identified by excessive, repetitive behaviors such as eating, sucking or chewing on fabric, obsessive grooming, repetitive meowing or yowling, and constant pacing. In a case of leaving a cat home alone , your cat will likely be fine as long as you're around, but may begin acting anxious when they can sense that you're about to leave.
Helping Your Stressed Cat
The first thing you need to know in order to help your anxious cat is that you should never punish or scold them for their anxious behavior. This will only increase negative associations and fear and make things worse instead of better. The goal should be to help them feel safe and relaxed in their surroundings.
On the other hand, if your vet rules out a physical problem as the cause, this may mean that the issue is psychological. If this is the case, your vet should be able to advise you on a course of treatment.
In addition to prescribing anti-anxiety medication to help keep your kitty calm, your vet may recommend a board certified veterinary behaviorist or trainer who can help both you and your cat through behavioral conditioning and counter-conditioning. Behavioral conditioning involves identifying fear triggers in your kitty's life and either desensitizing her to these triggers through repeated, safe exposure, or removing them from their environment. Counter-conditioning, which is similar, involves training your cat to replace a negative behavior with a positive one, while forming positive associations with the new behavior. For example, if your cat is anxious when they can sense you're about to leave, train them to go lie down and reward them when they do with a treat or a favorite toy. In time, they'll associate your leaving with this positive reward and learn to be okay with it. The overall goal of this training and conditioning is to teach your cat that they're safe and that it's okay to relax.
If Left Untreated
Untreated anxiety won't get better on its own, and will likely become worse over time, with undesirable behaviors becoming more pronounced. Just as with humans, chronic stress can have a physiological effect on your kitty's health. If it persists, it could compromise her immune system and make them more vulnerable to illness, which will, in turn, compound her stress. They could also develop severe depression on top of the anxiety, all of which could lead to additional behavior problems. It's not only in your cat's best interest but also in the interest of having a peaceful home, to intervene with your cat's anxiety as quickly as possible.
If you think your cat is suffering from anxiety, take heart. With love, patience and willingness to do your part to help, your cat has an excellent chance of making a full recovery and returning to their healthier, happier self.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent, pet blogger and novelist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she usually writes under the supervision of a lapful of fur babies.
Related products, browse by age.
- Adult (1-6)
- Cat Articles And Tips
- Dog Articles and Tips
- Create or Manage a Business Account
United States [English] (opens a modal dialog)
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram Youtube
- Terms & Conditions
- Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© 2021 Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. As used herein, denotes registered trademark status in the U.S. only; registration status in other geographies may be different. Your use of this site is subject to the terms of our Legal Statement . About our Ads . Cookie Consent Tool
Cat Scared of Sudden Movement
- Behavior & Socialization
- All Cat Training Resources
The first thing to understand regarding a cat’s fear of sudden motion or movement is that this is part of the nature of every animal. Throughout evolution, the ability to perceive and respond to sudden motion has helped keep all animals alive. It’s a survival mechanism, alerting animals to the possible presence of predators.
The problem arises when this normal instinctive behavior becomes heightened in some cats. An exaggerated startle response can arise for a number of reasons, with the three main ones being these:
- It can simply be part of the personality of the individual cat.
- It’s the result of some earlier traumatic experience that made the cat especially fearful of certain things.
- The cat did not receive adequate exposure to certain things when he was young, which has caused him to be overly fearful of those things during his adult life.
Personality differences in cats
Every cat has his or her own unique personality, just as every person does. Because of this, we need to keep in mind that not every cat is suited for every household. For example, a particular cat may be very shy around strangers (perhaps as a result of some unpleasant experiences during his upbringing), so a home where strangers frequently visit may be too stressful an environment for that cat to be able to fully enjoy life. He may spend most of his time in hiding. A bold and confident cat, on the other hand, may welcome visitors and thrive in that type of home.
Moreover, while certain traits may change with time, every individual feline (or person) has limits on how much he or she can change, so we have to recognize those kinds of limits and not continue pushing the animal to change because it can cause the pet unnecessary stress.
Avoiding triggers for a cat
Sometimes the easiest solution is the best. If you have a cat who is easily startled or frightened by sudden movements, you’ll simply want to do your best to make your cat feel at ease by avoiding making sudden movements.
Giving your cat the opportunity to retreat when fearful
Even more important than modifying your own behavior is always giving your cat the freedom to avoid or escape the things that startle or scare him. For example, if you exercise in your living room every morning, make sure a door is open so that your cat can leave that room and relax elsewhere. For the incidents that frighten your cat but are unforeseeable (such as something falling over), just knowing that he can always get away allows an easily startled cat to live more comfortably and to not constantly be on guard that something will scare him and he won’t be able to escape.
Being sensitive to an anxious or scared cat
Because of the wide variety of sudden motions, there is no way to make an easily startled or shy cat comfortable around everything that might spook him. You can implement some commonsense measures, though, such as covering a window that looks out on children playing in the yard or cars speeding by. The bottom line is simply trying to be sensitive to your cat’s fears and doing what you can to mitigate the things that are causing them.
Cat behavior modification techniques
©2019 Best Friends Animal Society . All Rights Reserved...
Privacy | Terms & Conditions | bestfriends.org
Reasons Why Your Cat Acts Crazy and How to Stop It
- Why Cats Act Crazy
- Read Your Cat
A cat acting crazy may run around the house or get a nightly burst of energy , complete with a chorus of meows. A "crazy" cat can be entertaining to watch, but the behavior could veer into destructiveness, with the cat inadvertently knocking things over, and an increased likelihood that someone gets bitten. The cat may just be embracing its nocturnal or predatory instinct, in which case there are things you can do to support it and minimize the risk of chaos or bodily harm, or the wild behavior could also be a sign that something is wrong with their health.
Watch Now: 6 Reasons Your Cat May Be Acting Crazy
Why do cats act crazy.
No matter the breed, all cats have moments when they run across a room, meow like crazy, and act as if they're on a racetrack being chased. They dart about, faster and faster, looking all over the place and then suddenly stop in their tracks.
This wild behavior is sometimes referred to as the "midnight crazies" when it happens at night. Your cat may entertain itself with wild activity or jump on your bed to paw at your feet, elbows, hair, or face to get you to join in the fun. The reasons for this wild and sometimes-amusing behavior vary.
The Spruce / Elise Degarmo
Cats are natural predators, and domestic cats retain this instinct to a certain extent. At times, a cat that's acting crazy may actually be exhibiting hunting behaviors, fighting maneuvers, or escape techniques.
A house cat that doesn't have to hunt for its food still needs to burn its pent-up energy, and it may be in the form of what appears to be crazy behavior. Toys , such as catnip mice, laser pointers, food puzzles, and feather wands encourage a cat to use its natural instincts to grab, chase, and jump. This exercise is especially important for your cat if it doesn't spend time outdoors.
Another reason for your cat’s crazy behavior could be because some cats are nocturnal and become more active at night. If a cat isn't getting enough exercise during the day, it may act especially crazy.
Many domestic cats spend their days alone indoors while their people are at work. When the cat's person comes home in the evening, the cat may be very active and want to play. If it has no outlet for all this energy, the cat may exhibit some crazy behavior. Kittens are especially energetic.
If you have an older cat, it's possible it's acting crazy because of some cognitive dysfunction or senility. As a pet ages , its brain may start functioning differently and cause it to exhibit strange behavior for no apparent reason.
Sometimes a cat acts crazy and looks as if something is biting it sporadically because it has fleas. Particularly when meowing is involved, your cat could be hypersensitive to flea bites or simply have an itch in a place it can't reach.
If you suspect your cat has fleas , treat all the furry animals in the household with a prescription product specifically for cats, designed to kill and prevent fleas. You should also see your vet to determine if there are any secondary skin infections of allergies from the fleas that need to be treated. You'll also need to treat the environment by vacuuming, doing laundry, and using area sprays or flea bombs if recommended by your vet. Once the fleas are gone, your cat should stop this behavior.
Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FHS)
Feline hyperesthesia syndrome (FHS) is a rare reason why a cat may act crazy, although it affects mature cats most often and the cause is unknown.
Discuss the possibility of FHS with your veterinarian if you notice that:
- The skin on your cat's back appears to be rippling while it's running about.
- Your cat frequently bites at its back above its tail, even after you've properly treated it for fleas.
- Petting at the base of your cat's tail or back triggers it to groom, scratch, or bite the area excessively and then run around the house crazily.
Sometimes it's difficult to know exactly what caused your cat to go a little wild all of a sudden. Frankly, cats are hard to interpret! Many people understand basic dog vocalizations and behaviors but don't recognize basic cat behaviors.
Dogs have expressive faces and body language that's pretty easy to accurately interpret. They wag their tails, make different noises to alert others of their moods, and often follow basic commands to please their people. Cats, on the other hand, are usually known more for their emotional vagueness and standoffish behavior. There is, however, a growing belief that cats are just as expressive as dogs . The problem is that people simply misunderstand or don’t see what or how their cats are trying to communicate.
Learn to Read Your Cat
When it comes to cats, meows and tail waves can mean a number of different things, depending on the situation. With each purr, yowl , or even blink , your feline is actually trying to communicate with you. The problem is figuring out what it's saying.
Experts say there’s something to gain from these attempts at communication. For instance, learning to read your cat's body language can strengthen your bond with it and allow you to become more effective at responding appropriately to its needs.
Every cat is different, so the best thing you can do to start is to simply observe your cat. Take mental notes of the environment and conditions present when the "crazy" behavior occurs. Pay attention to body language, vocalizations, time of day, and what your cat just did. Did your kitty just eat, groom, or scratch its back? Was there a playful meow before your cat dashed into the other room?
With time and careful observation, you'll likely begin to piece together the triggers of your cat's craziness in various situations. This will help you to understand what's normal for your cat and when any unusual behavior could be a symptom of a medical issue worth investigating with your vet.
Cognitive Dysfunction . Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Feline Health Center.
Hyperesthesia Syndrome . Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Feline Health Center.
Koyasu H, Kikusui T, Takagi S, Nagasawa M. The Gaze Communications Between Dogs/Cats and Humans: Recent Research Review and Future Directions. 2021 Mar 01;12:645366]. Front Psychol . 2020;11:613512. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.613512
More from The Spruce Pets
- Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome
- Why Your Cat Is Meowing So Much—and Other Ways They Seek Your Attention
- Do Cats Cry When They Are Sad or in Pain?
- How to Stop Your Dog From Humping
- Why Cats Get Jealous and How to Stop It
- 18 Warning Signs That Your Cat Is Crying for Help
- How to Stop Aggression in Kittens
- Why Do Cats Rub Against Your Legs?
- How to Stop Cats From Biting and Scratching
- Reasons Why Cats Bite and How to Stop It
- How to Stop a Cat From Attacking Its Tail
- How to Solve Behavior Problems in Cats
- Reasons Why Cats Overgroom and How to Stop It
- 22 Weird Cat Behaviors You're Not Sure About
- Reasons Why Your Dog Whines and How to Stop It
- How to Stop Loud Meowing in Cats
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
- SUCCESS STORIES
Why Are My Cats Fighting All of a Sudden?
If your cats start hissing and clawing out of nowhere when they used to be friends, you might find yourself wondering, "Why are my cats fighting all of a sudden?" What was once a happy friendship has now turned into bullying and flying fur. Whether they're fighting because they smell differently or got spooked, your cats probably won't stay enemies for long. Here are some reasons why your cats don't get along anymore, as well as steps to help ease them into a friendship again.
One Cat Smells Different
If one of your cats suddenly smells differently, the other cat may react pretty violently at first. This can happen if you took one of your cats to a vet or a groomer, for example. 1 Cats identify each other through smell and voice, not just by sight. A weird, unfamiliar smell signals an intruder, not a friend.
Eventually, the two cats will remember each other, but it can be pretty disturbing to watch best friends fight until they figure it out. Some people schedule vet visits at the same time to avoid this.
If you can't take them to appointments together, try rubbing the returning cat with a blanket your cats sleep on before reintroducing him to the home. Another option is to lightly rub your hands with a pleasant scent, like smelly treats or water from canned tuna, and then gently pet your kitty. The distracting but pleasant scent might overpower the vet's scent.
Fear Takes Over
Sometimes cats get scared, and this causes them to misdirect their "fight or flight" response at the wrong target. This might happen if two cats are sleeping peacefully next to each other, then hear a loud noise. Both cats get scared, jump, and puff up into defensive postures. They see each other puffed up and fear the other is attacking. This could lead to unease and fighting until they figure out they're still friends.
They're Insecure about Territories
Sometimes sudden outbursts are caused by unease about territories in the home. 2 Cats are naturally territorial, but friendly cats have learned to share their space peacefully. If you recently moved to a new home, they may need to work those issues out again.
Changes in your own life can also trigger territory insecurity and stress in your cats. If you recently got married, had a baby , or even changed your work schedule significantly, your cats might be feeling a little shaken up and insecure. They could easily take that stress out on each other. When a significant change takes place, try to stick to your cats' routine as much as you can, including mealtime and bedtime. Spend extra time playing with them, so they don't feel jealous. Be patient; it might take a little time to adjust.
Your cat's territorial protection instinct can also be triggered if stray cats are outside and your cats can see or smell them. In those cases, it might be good to close the shades when feral cats are roaming, or even set up motion-activated sprinklers to encourage feral cats to visit a different yard.
Medical Issues Are at Play
If your cats aren't fixed, then sudden fighting might be caused by puberty. If they're spayed or neutered, it could be a different medical issue. Cats tend to hide health problems, but they might become withdrawn or aggressive if they're not feeling well. If the behavior persists, it may be time to take them to the vet for a checkup.
You Can Help Them
One easy and effective solution is to set up Comfort Zone Calming Diffusers in different rooms where your cats hang out. This drug-free solution mimics a cat's pheromones and helps communicate the environment is safe and secure. You might also want to try the Comfort Zone Calming Collar , especially if your cats go outdoors. This collar with the BreakAway safety feature helps keep the calming pheromones with your cats whether they're resting in the home or on the go.
You could also try adding cat trees, condos , and window perches around the house to give your kitties more territory to call their own. Tall spaces can also increase confidence and help cut down on fear-based fighting.
If the new behavior is intense, you may need to reintroduce your cats to each other. The process could take a few weeks. Start out by keeping them in separate rooms, and swap blankets and other items with their scents. Feed them on either side of a closed door. When they can eat calmly, try a closed gate where they can see each other. Then graduate to supervised visits with treats.
When cats that used to be good buddies suddenly start fighting, it's generally temporary. But sometimes they need a little help from you. A nudge in the right direction can help them remember why they love each other all over again.
1. Animal Planet. "5 Tips to Stop Cats from Fighting." animalplanet.com, http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/5-tips-to-stop-cats-from-fighting/ .
2. Humane Society. "How to Help a Frightened Cat." humanesociety.org, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-help-frightened-cat .
- Cat Behavior
- Cats & The Holidays
- Cat Scratching
- Cat Stress/Anxiety
- Multi-Cat Tension
- Multi-Pet Behavior
- Cats of Comfort Zone
- Urine Spraying
- How to Stop a Cat from Spraying
- Why Is My Cat Meowing?
- What Are Cat Pheromones and How Do They Work?
- Should I Declaw My Cat?
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER
Why Do Cats Like Boxes?
With thoughtful preparation, your home can be a happy place for your feline during the holidays.
Should I Get Another Cat?
Adopting a second cat can be a blessing to your home, but is it a good idea? Follow these steps.
6 Tips to Get Your Cats to Cover Their Poop
If your cat's not covering his poop, he's not trying to be mean. A secret source of stress might be the culprit.
- Too many ads? Join our community of cat lovers now to reduce ads by 90%! Click here to join for free!
- Cat Care Forums
- Cat Behavior
Cat suddenly spooked?
- Thread starter megani
- Start Date May 11, 2011
Hi everyone. I just signed up to ask about this since I'm really not sure what the problem could be... My indoor-cat, Chloe, is going to be 7-years-old in July. She's very playful, loves to be picked up (by me, anyway), is friendly to most people, and not scared by much. We just moved to a new townhouse almost 10 days ago. She seemed to adjust very quickly, and within the first day seemed really content, explored the house, went up and down the stairs (she's never had a staircase before), etc. She actually seemed to really love the place, and she was fine all week. The only thing that bothered her were the fireworks we can hear from the Magic Kingdom (we're very close to Disney, but it's not TOO loud), but she just hides under the bed, and we figured she would get used to it. Two days ago, she was in the living room with my mother, who was watching TV. Chloe was sitting near the TV, where there's an air vent (which sometimes makes a strange hissing noise when the AC turns on), a few boxes we haven't unpacked, and her toys. My mom says that all of a sudden she got really spooked - she started walking low to the ground, kind of in slow motion, staring behind the TV, or maybe at the air vent (which is near the floor), just in that general area. Since then, she's been afraid of that side of the room. For the first day she wouldn't come down the stairs (which leads into the living room) unless we picked her up (earlier she had run down the stairs ahead of me), and she walks by the TV very slowly, stares at it for a while, that kind of thing. Once I picked her up and brought her close, but she got very tense and tried to jump down. But otherwise, she seems perfectly fine. She went outside (with us, it's a fenced courtyard) and chased a bug, she's eating and seems to be using the litter box, she plays with her toy mice, she curled up on my mom's lap today (which was in the living room, so that was a step forward I think). It's hard to tell if she's completely avoiding the downstairs, though, because my mom and I are upstairs most of the day, and she likes to be with us. I'm sure it's probably something that will pass/that she'll forget about, but I'm just concerned because her food and litter box are downstairs, and whatever it was that spooked her is preventing her from moving around the house like normal. Has anyone seen behavior like this before or have any idea what I could do? She seems a little better today, since we've been coaxing her with treats, but she still acts like there's something terrible around the TV that we just can't see, and in general has been a little more anxious since that moment.
- Latest: maggie101
- 6 minutes ago
- Latest: tabbytom
- 7 minutes ago
- Latest: catloverfromwayback
- 17 minutes ago
- 19 minutes ago
- Latest: daftcat75
- 20 minutes ago
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden – 10 Likely Reasons!
By: Author FAQCats
As a cat owner, you have seen your cat get scared of something. Your cat could be calmly sitting next to you on the couch one minute and then suddenly bolts in the other direction. Most of the time, you may not even notice what scared your cat. Thus, you start to ask yourself, why is my cat scared all of a sudden?
Your cat is likely scared all of a sudden due to recent changes in their living environment. Loud noises, unfamiliar scents and territory, past negative encounters, and pain, as well as sickness, can all cause cats to experience sudden fear.
Cats can be afraid for several reasons. While this list does not exhaust all the reasons your cat can be suddenly scared, it is pretty comprehensive and gives you some ideas about what may be scaring your cat. Just keep reading!
Your Cat Was Scared By Something
While this may seem like a stupid answer to the question, it could be as simple as something scaring your cat. Even the bravest cats can be scared by a sudden noise or movement.
You will notice that a cat has been scared by something suddenly if you see their hair on their back bristle. They may also poof up their tail and turn sideways to make themselves look bigger.
A small shock is enough to change your cat’s personality for a whole day. Most cats will recover from a sudden fright within a few minutes.
Something In Your Cat’s Environment Changed
Most cats are creatures of habit, which means that they do not like when things around them are changed.
You may have chosen to redecorate your living or choose a new decoration for the holiday season. Sometimes cats will notice differences in the environment faster than even your own family might.
This is the case in my household. One of my cats dislikes change more than anything else. If my mom puts a new decoration on the counter, like a small pumpkin for fall or a tree for Christmas, one of our cats will inspect it for what seems like forever. My cat will inch closer and closer in fear that the object will lunge at her.
Not all cats will notice changes, but a particular cat will quickly recognize things that have changed.
There will be some cats who will not feel better until the difference is rectified. If there is a significant change in your cat’s environment and they act differently, you may need to think about going back to your old style.
Something Outside Scared Your Cat
Most cats like to spend their day looking outside the window or door, and something outside may have been enough to scare your cat suddenly.
Any number of things could have scared your cat:
- Leaves blowing on the trees
- A squirrel hopping onto a bird feeder
- A neighborhood dog going for a walk down the sidewalk
One of my cats was once sitting in a cat perch in our sunroom. Birds were flying around outside, and one crashed into the window next to our cat sitting in. Our cat leaped about two feet in the air and ran out of the room. He didn’t return to one of his favorite spots in the house for almost a week because he was so scared of what happened!
You Have A New Cat In The House
A new cat can cause your cat to be scared suddenly.
If your cat is used to being the only cat in the house, then a new cat will be shocking.
Similarly, if your cat is used to older or adult cats, then a kitten can also be surprising for your cat.
No matter the type of cat, your cat won’t be used to the sudden change in the living situation.
After all, you may have been planning to get a new kitten for months, but there is not a great way to break the news to your cat without simply bringing home another cat one day.
Some cats will take a new cat in the house easier than others, but you should not be surprised or worried if your cat is scared by more things than usual until he gets used to his new brother or sister.
You Have A Child In The House
Bringing home a newborn baby can significantly change your cat, especially if it is your first child.
Taking a baby into your house for the first time is a similar experience to getting another cat for the cat you already own.
If you’ve always had a particularly quiet house, the baby crying or whining could be scary to your cat. Your cat may go running when he hears your baby’s cries or hears the baby’s monitor crackle when your baby needs attention.
When you’re introducing the new child to your cat, you may notice that your cat will often go running in fear of the baby.
This should not cause too much worry. Your cat will eventually get used to the new baby in the house, but it will be a learning curve for everyone.
There Is Another New Animal In The House
Other cats and babies are not the only things that can scare your cat suddenly.
Perhaps you decided to expand your family with a new dog. A cat that has never been around dogs will be understandably afraid of your dog.
Your new dog could be big or small, but there is no guarantee that your cat will instantly become best friends with your dog.
You could go for a more exotic animal too, which can have a different relationship with your cat. Think of someone who has a cat and purchased a bird or a snake. It changes the dynamic of the household!
Here are some things that can change in your home for your cat when you get a new animal, no matter what kind of animal it is:
- The animal will make different noises. Since it isn’t a cat, there won’t be any meowing that your cat is familiar to your cat!
- There will be new smells. A fish tank will smell differently from a rabbit cage in your house. Your cat will want to explore those new smells he may have never smelled before.
- Your cat will not be the only one getting your attention anymore. This may not be a significant change if you get an animal that is not handled, like a fish. Other animals that require more care will take more of your attention.
- There will be different foods in the house. A curious cat may want to sample some of the new food in the house, so you may have to be careful.
No matter the kind of new animal you get, you will want to make sure you take the time to introduce your cat to the new pet in the house.
Otherwise, your cat will be suddenly scared by what he sees or hears for longer.
Your Cat Heard Something You Didn’t
A simple noise can be enough to give your cat a sudden fright.
Cats have more sensitive hearing than humans, so your cat will likely hear something that you didn’t.
This noise, loud or slight, could scare your cat and send him running!
Since you did not hear the noise yourself, it is only natural why you would be confused when your cat runs out of the room and starts to hide.
Something Happened To Your Cat That You Didn’t See
It’s impossible to know what your cat is doing at all times, so something likely happened to your cat when you were not looking.
For instance, maybe you have two cats that like to taunt each other. When you are nearby, your cats are well-behaved with each other.
When you turn your back to your cats, however, they may begin to fight.
I had one cat in the past that liked to torment other cats in the house. If my mom was in the room, the cat acted like an angel. When she was not in the room, he would bonk the other cats on the head and scare them! He would do it in front of me, but not my mother, which was so odd.
If he were fighting with another cat and heard my mom coming, this cat would suddenly start to act like a good cat and did not show he did anything wrong.
My mom did not believe me when I said our cat was misbehaving because she never saw his misbehavior.
This should be enough to show you that your cats may act like toddlers around each other. Your cats can be scaring each other behind closed doors, and you may never even realize it!
Your Cat Is In Pain
This is one that we never want to think about, but there is a possibility that your cat is in pain.
Cats don’t understand pain like humans do, so that pain can be a scary experience for your cats. They do not know why they are hurting, and they cannot tell you that something is wrong.
If your cat is walking around the house, and his leg suddenly starts to hurt him, one of his first reactions would be to run away from the pain.
You may not understand why your cat is scared all of a sudden, but it can be linked to the physical pain that your cat is feeling.
Your cat doesn’t know that he is unable to run away and hide from the pain.
It can be challenging to know when your cat is in pain. Usually, a cat that is in pain will hide more and start to socialize less with others. This might be hard to notice in shy cats, but it will be evident in friendly cats.
Your Cat Can’t Hear Or See Well
This is another one that most cat owners would prefer not to think about, but it is an option that you should keep in mind.
Your cat may have trouble seeing or hearing, which can lead to him getting easily startled by things around him. Some of these things may not even be scary!
Both of these impairments can make your cat’s life more difficult, and it can be challenging to realize that this is your cat’s problem.
If your cat has trouble seeing, he may not be able to realize things are near him until he is close to them. Seeing objects suddenly could startle him, but that does not mean that he will always run away from them in fear.
Hearing can be more difficult for cats. It may also be easier for you to notice because your cat will never pay attention to you or hear things that he should.
Cats that can’t hear are more easily startled than cats that can. For instance, every time you walk up behind your cat, you may scare him because he does not know that you’re there.
Unfortunately, there is not always a remedy to sight or hearing loss. Instead, the treatment and remedy will be changing how you interact with your cat not to scare him.
How To Help Your Cat Cope With Fear
If the fear your cat is experiencing does not go away quickly, it will be helpful to have some tools or methods to help your cat cope with fear.
Here are a few things you can try:
- Keep your cat’s environment essentially the same, or keep your cat in a familiar area. This is particularly important for cats that are getting older and may be going blind.
- Use medication prescribed by your vet. This can include medicine for anxiety or stress from anxiety. Speak to your vet about what option is for you.
- Take your cat to your vet to see if anything else is wrong. You never know what can be going on under the surface.
- Give your cat some love. Sit on the floor and pet him or let him crawl onto your lap when relaxing for the night.
Different cats will benefit from different coping methods. Continue working with your cat and trying new things; that way, you can learn what the best coping method is for your cat.
My name is James, and welcome to FAQCats!
Along with our team of cat owners, expert pet enthusiasts, and pet professionals, we aim to write engaging helpful, engaging content about cats. At FAQCats we strive to provide content that’s accurate and fun to read. Our team writes about everything related to cats; even the most complex of topics. Through extensive research and caring for our own fur-pals, we’re able to provide something cat owners worldwide will love. Have a look around, and leave us feedback anytime!
Why Is My Cat Scared All Of a Sudden? Here Are The Reasons
If your cat is scared suddenly , I am confident there must be a reason you aren’t aware of it.
In general, cats are a scary creature of god. As much as they are cute and adorable, at the same time, they fear a lot.
If you are wondering Why Is Your Cat Scared All Of a Sudden , this article will help you to figure out.
I will go over the reasons I have personally experienced & explain it to you to better take care of them.
Let’s get started:
A sudden change in the cat’s behavior can be a concerning issue. Behavioral change may vary from shying away and hiding somewhere to lashing out and being aggressive.
No matter how they release fear when your brave and independent furball suddenly gets racked up with anxiety, it is undoubtedly troubling.
Most probably, your cat’s sudden nervousness and jitters are caused by a routine that has changed in some way. Your feline’s sense of arrangement and sanctuary gets put in havoc with the introduction of new people, new pets, or changes in the environment. It may also be a sign of sickness or pain.
In shrot, your cat scared all of a sudden may be because of some routine changed, or some insecurity that constantly bothering them.
A cat always afraid is different from a cat that suddenly becomes jittery and nervous.
Constant fear may be due to their environment.
The anxiety that causes your cat to be jumpy suddenly may be more likely due to new circumstances.
As you read on, we’ll tackle what makes them feel this way and how to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat is Scared? (Common Scared Cat Behaviors)
An afraid fur ball could respond and react in unusual ways. The Human Society of America lists the most common behaviors of scared cats are;
- Running, hiding, and freezing in one spot
- Taking a go outside of litter box, which may usually be accidental since they can’t control their bladder due to fear
- Scenting and sniffing from the anal glands
- Aggressive put-ons like hissing, raising haunches, fluffing the tail, scratching, and biting
If you notice your cat demonstrating these behaviors, somebody or something is potentially frightening them.
At this point, it would be best to leave them alone. Usually, they will calm down on their own and find ways to remove themselves from the situation.
However, if enough time has been given and they are still not their usual selves, you may resort to trying some methods applied to soothe a terrified cat.
What makes my Cat suddenly afraid?
For sure, you’ve heard from playgrounds, parks, and almost everywhere, kids are present the taunts of “scaredy-cat.” This term came about because it relates to being easily frightened, presumably because nervous behaviors are known to felines.
The usually self-assured cats may suddenly show signs of fear. They may suddenly become afraid of their own shadow. If they show signs like these, it is crucial to understand why.
Three possible explanations are;
- Altered cat’s routine . This change leaves even the bravest and boldest cat feeling confused, disconcerted, and rattled.
- Catswent through trauma . Cats, just like dogs forge emotional connections to people and events. These memories last a while for them. When such memory came from intense fear or pain, they will remember it . And, for as long as they have it in mind, it will leave them feeling distrustful and jumpy, worried they could get hurt again.
- The cat is sick . Cats feel vulnerable when they are sick. There is no happy place for a sick cat. Even their cat-hole may seem foreign for them. Cats are fiercely independent, and they don’t like needing help. Your suddenly skittish cat could be fearing their weakness.
Or, it could also be that your cat is just nervous by nature. However, if your cat is suddenly acting weird, there is almost certainly an explanation. Various cat nerves arise when possible triggers occur and there are adjustments that can be done to pacify them.
1. Acclimating to A New Home
Nothing intimidates a cat more than moving into new homes . They need where the food or water is, as well as the safe spot to hide. And, if they are clueless about this, it stirs up anxiety for them.
Another reason that can make a cat very anxious about a new home is If they have been adopted from a shelter. Most cats in the shelter have been rehomed more than once.
To help your feline adjust to a new home, restrict them to one location at first. It could be a room that no one uses.
Fill it up with cat litter tray, toys, and everything else they could need. This will make it less overwhelming for them since they can get what they need.
The moment they have adapted to that room, try to give them the run of the house. If they have genuinely acclimatized to the room, the whole location will now be less intimidating.
2. Adjusting to a New Companion
If you have a cat and you bring in another one, whether they be old or just a small kitten, the established home feels threatening for the original pet. The reason is that the older cat could fear that the new cat will assume their status.
It takes time to introduce a new pet to an established cat. For the first few days, keep them apart, in separate rooms. After 2 to 3 days, you may start acquainting them from the opposite ends of the hall.
This allows them to gain an idea of how each other smells from a safe distance. Giving each cat a treat works too as it creates a harmonious link with each other in both their minds.
Eventually, you will need to let both of them interact and see (and hope) that they co-exist. You may notice the old cat being timid at first, shying out and staying out of the way. Let them be. Just make sure that they know they are not forgotten. Later on, they will become a bonded pair .
3. Adjusting to a new member of the family
Cats don’t find babies cute as much as we do. The baby’s new scent will be strange and their cries will be too loud for them.
Keep them apart, but allow your cat to explore the room where the baby stays when it is empty. This will allow them to accept and get used to the baby’s scent.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a list of steps you can try to prepare your cat for the baby’s arrival. This includes recording and playing the sound of a crying baby ahead of time.
The most challenging part of this situation is maintaining the cat’s schedule when the new baby arrives. Cats expect to be fed, played with, and cared for at certain times. The change in routine will leave your pet anxious and feel like they can’t trust you.
How to Soothe a Frightened Cat
Cat work themselves into something frenzy when they become afraid. In most cases, it is recommended to give your cat some space. Otherwise, you may end up getting caught in the firing line. But, as with most things, there are steps you can try to lessen your furball’s anxiety.
Such steps include:
- Chill out and stay calm. Cats, as with most pets can detect stress in humans. Your facial expression is an open book for them to read. If they see you are stressed, they will be stressed. Stay calm, offer enough soothing, and speak of soft reassurance.
- Keep your cat away from triggers. The cat doesn’t get jittery for anything; someone or something could have frightened it. Find out what it is and keep them away from your cat. There may come a time you need to reintroduce them, but at the moment’s high, keep the focus on the cat’s fear.
- Offer foods or treats. Cats are food-focused. Once they see a snack offered, they swiftly forget whatever frightened them.
- Play and cuddle with your cat. Playing distracts your cat and improves their temperament.
- Play some classical music. Classical music soothes not just humans but our beloved furballs too. When cats are stressed, you wouldn’t want to play anything too loid. In these instances, stick with mid-tempo compositions abundant with high pitches. Why? Because they sound similar to those used by cats to communicate.
- Use scented candles. Scents like calendula, lavender, geranium, neroli, and rose are all said to comfort cats. But, be safe when lighting up as it comes with an element of fire risk, so keep it away from feline reach.
When cats are anxious, they become aggressive. But, one thing to remember is never to treat aggression with aggression. The anxious cat should be confined until they cool off. Only time alone can do wonders in such instances.
What Scares Cats?
Some feline phobias are well known, but others are vaguer. But, taking a better understanding of what scares them gives you leverage on how to keep them away from getting scared.
Common things they get scared of are;
- Loud and booming noises. Cat’s acute hearing makes anything loud deafening for them.
- Foreign humans. Adopted cats are not as socialized making them dubious of strangers.
- New pets. Cats are not fans of sharing and having a new pet makes them apprehensive.
- Open spaces. While they like to wander, their predatory instincts give them the idea that open spaces offer no place for them to hide or take cover.
- Water. Cats don’t like being cold, so taking a bath takes them a long time to dry and they hate it.
- Sudden movement and appearances. Those videos where cats get frightened by cucumbers do not mean they’re afraid of them. The viral videos show these cucumbers placed silently behind the cat and when they see it, it startles them. It is the sudden appearance that scares them, not the item itself.
- Neglect and harm. Mistreatment that includes physical chastisement and scolding results in the cat losing trust in you. This feeling turns into fear and stress.
In situations where cats are suddenly jittery, the best way is to let the cat control the situation. Ignoring her, not picking her up, not petting her, not reaching out makes her come around faster.
Any type of approach towards them regardless of how well-intended they are could still be interpreted as aggressiveness. Slow and steady always wins the case.
Hi There, AJ Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who loves helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also the content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.
- 1 How Can You Tell If Your Cat is Scared? (Common Scared Cat Behaviors)
- 2.1 1. Acclimating to A New Home
- 2.2 2. Adjusting to a New Companion
- 2.3 3. Adjusting to a new member of the family
- 2.4 How to Soothe a Frightened Cat
- 3.1 Conclusion
4 thoughts on “Why Is My Cat Scared All Of a Sudden? Here Are The Reasons”
Thank you soo much, this really helped me as I was extremely worried about my cats. Hopefully I can use the advice you’ve given and see results soon.
Aasiyah Glad you found it helpful. Cheers
Thank you for the tips, well appreciated!
Thank you so much for the information! We rescued a kitten and he was doing really well and then one day was super skittish. I realized it was because we left him go upstairs where he hadn’t been much. I grew up with dogs and didn’t realize how completely different they are. Leon and I thank you 🙂
Comments are closed.
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Scared Of Room? (9 SHOCKING Reasons)
by Olfa T | Jan 13, 2022 | Breeds & Behavior | 1 comment
Last updated on June 29th, 2023 at 01:45 am
Are you wondering, “Why is my cat suddenly scared of my room?”
It’s natural to be worried when your feline friend starts acting strangely and avoids certain areas in the house.
Fortunately, I’m here to talk all about all the reasons why your cat is suddenly scared of a room and what you can do to change your kitty’s mind.
Just keep reading.
- #1 Unpleasant Experience
#2 Conflict with Another Cat/Pet
#3 strange smell, #4 strange sounds, #5 strange objects.
- #6 Change in Routines
#7 Room Is Not Safe
- #8 Punishment
#1 Consult a Vet
#2 remove objects, #3 eliminate noises, #4 consider pheromones, #5 socialize your kitten.
- #6 Don’t Use Certain Smells
#7 Don’t Punish Your Cat
#8 tempt the cat, #9 spend time with your cat, 9 reasons why is cat suddenly scared of room.
Cats have many funny habits , such as kneading blankets , biting your hair, sitting in a loaf position , and staring at walls .
But it’s never fun to see your cat sprint away from a room, scared out of its wits. So, why is your cat suddenly afraid of your room?
Cats can be afraid of rooms for various reasons, such as unpleasant experiences, strange sights/smells, conflicts with other pets, and so on.
I don’t consider it normal “crazy” cat behavior, and I will be concerned if my cat won’t come into my room anymore or stop sleeping next to me.
So, let’s talk in detail about all the reasons why your cat is suddenly afraid of your room.
#1 Unpleasant Experience
If your cat is suddenly scared of a room, chances are something spooked your kitty so much they’re afraid to enter the room again.
As specialists explain, the long-term memories that “stick” the most in pets are those having to do with very positive or very negative events.
That’s why your cat runs at full speed every time they hear the can opener or materializes out of thin air the moment you open the fridge.
So, a negative experience inside the room can leave quite the impression in your cat’s mind and turn the room into a “must-avoid” place.
And it doesn’t take much to spook some cats – sudden movement, a loud noise, something falling off the table, fireworks, or the vacuum cleaner at the wrong moment is enough.
Some cats will also avoid the room if you catch them at the door, step on their tails, or hurt them by accident.
And cats become very skittish when something falls near them, such as lamps, scratching posts, vases, etc. As an owner says, “they’re afraid something else will fall or collapse on them.”
Why is my cat so scared all the time and refuses to come into the room?
If you have more than one cat in the household, one of your kitties might bully the other.
While cats can bond with other cats, some breeds do better as a single pet and don’t tolerate other “competitors” around the house.
Also, many pet owners don’t introduce cats to one another. Instead, they expect the cats to work it out, leading to one cat chasing the other from the room.
Dogs can also bully cats and make your kitty anxious to go near the room where the dog sleeps/eats. And some felines don’t like dogs and will avoid them at all costs.
Cats have a fantastic sense of smell. As specialists explain, Their sense of smell is 14 times better than that of humans. And according to some studies, it’s more sensitive than dogs.
As such, any intense aromas in the room can be enough to make your kitty anxious and scared. Imagine if you have to spend time in a stinky room! You’d avoid it at all cost.
Cats also hate certain smells , such as citrus, lavender, and fresh herbs. That’s why many people use citrus peels as repellents to keep the kitty away from furniture and other valuable objects.
So, think about what perfumes or essential oils you’re using. It can be the answer to, “Why is my cat suddenly afraid of me and won’t come into the room?”
Sudden loud noises are very traumatic for cats . That’s because cats have an exceptional sense of hearing and can detect sounds from a great distance.
Imagine how scared you would be if you heard a firework exploding near you. Your cat feels similar whenever some strange noise surprises it.
It can be something as simple as a new air conditioner, a blow dryer, a washing machine, etc. Your cat won’t dare to return to the room until the strange noise disappears.
So, any loud or unfamiliar noises can stress your furry friend and make them afraid of a room, especially if your cat isn’t well-socialized.
If your cat is scared and refuses to enter a room, you should think about what’s inside the room. Have you recently purchased a new item or moved something?
Unfamiliar inanimate objects can make your kitty afraid of a room until your cat has a chance to get close to the thing and examine it to determine if it’s a threat.
Moreover, some cats will avoid the room when you keep the vacuum cleaner or other “scary” and loud objects because of anxiety and stress.
#6 Change in Routines
Why is my cat suddenly scared of everything, including their favorite room?
Such drastic changes in behavior can be related to a new routine.
All cats like a stable routine and become anxious when something disturbs their habits. While hiding is a typical sign of stress in cats , refusing to come inside a room can also point to anxiety.
If my cat won’t come into my room anymore, I would consider if something has recently changed in my routine and how I interact with my cat.
Maybe you don’t spend enough time with your kitty, and they’re feeling alone. Or you’re too busy to feed your feline friend at the right time, and they’re mad at you.
Moving houses, getting a new cat/dog, having a baby, and other significant changes can also make your cat wary of rooms.
While cats don’t have to worry about predators at home, they are still not big fans of open spaces and areas with no suitable escape routes or hiding spots.
So, a wide and open room can be another reason your cat is afraid to enter, especially if they have had a negative experience inside.
Do you scold your cat often or use spray bottles to train them off the furniture?
Then your cat can get afraid of being in the room when you’re inside.
Of course, when you’re not in the room, the cat will be brave enough to enter and do its usual business, such as scratching the furniture or furring the bed.
Usually, any sudden change in your cat’s behavior can be an indication of an illness , even if your kitty seems otherwise healthy.
Your cat might be in pain and connects the pain with the room, hence why your kitty is suddenly scared of entering this location.
Litter box issues occur for the same reasons. Cats think the litter box causes discomfort and look for other locations to do their business.
Moreover, elderly cats often suffer from cognitive problems. They have trouble remembering where the food and litter box are and might no longer recognize the room as a familiar environment.
9 Tips on How to Get Your Cat to Stop Being Afraid of Your Room
In some cases, it’s good when a cat is afraid of a room, especially if the cat can break something and get hurt.
However, it’s not healthy for your kitty to be terrified of a room all the time. So, let’s see 9 tips about how to deal with anxiety in cats who are afraid of rooms.
It’s always wise to talk to your vet when you’re worried about sudden changes in your cat’s behavior. While being scared of a room isn’t one of the telltale signs of illness, you can’t be too careful.
Moreover, your vet can tell you if your kitty suffers from chronic stress and offer suitable medications to lift your cat’s spirit and reduce the anxiety.
And if your cat is in pain, the quicker you treat the underlying medical condition, the quicker your kitty will recover.
Observe your cat and determine if they’re afraid of unfamiliar objects inside the room. Then all you have to do is remove the item from your cat’s sight.
Once your cat realizes the “scary” thing is no longer there, they should stop being afraid from entering the room.
Check the room and ensure no strange noises can freak out your furry friend. Move loud machines to other parts of the house or try to desensitize your kitty to the sound.
Desensitizing means exposing your cat to the trigger (sound) and rewarding them with tasty treats when there’s no negative reaction.
However, this method will take several weeks or months, depending on your cat’s personality and how much they fear the noise.
And avoid playing loud music near your cat or turning the TV volume too much.
Pheromones can be an excellent solution for timid cat behavior, acute stress, and depression. They help the cat get used to new situations and reduce tension in multi-pet households.
However, don’t try any anti-anxiety treatment before talking to your vet. Some pheromones can be dangerous for cats with underlying medical conditions.
A good cat owner should expose their kitty to various human sounds, sights, and smells. Otherwise, the cat will be wary of everything new.
While it’s easier to socialize kittens, you can also work with adult cats on getting them comfortable around new people, smells, and sounds.
Just be patient and keep your cat’s favorite treats on hand to reward positive behavior and built-up your kitty’s confidence.
#6 Don’t Use Certain Smells
Stop using strong perfumes, essential oils, or smells that cats hate.
Opt for unscented soap, mild laundry detergent, and scents that cats like.
If you’re wondering, “Why would my cat suddenly be afraid of me and refuse to come into the room?” then think about how much you’re scolding your kitty.
While establishing boundaries is necessary, you shouldn’t punish your pet. Cats don’t make a connection between what you consider the “crime” and the following “punishment.”
Instead of yelling or spraying bottles, ignore any behavior you dislike and reward “good” behavior with treats.
Temping your cat with its favorite treats and wet food is the best way to make your kitty “like” the room again.
Try leaving food bowls with delicious treats inside the room, providing exciting toys, and not pushing your cat. Once your kitty connects the room with positive things, they will love it again.
Are you spending enough quality time with your kitty?
Cats often get stressed, obsessed with you, and scared of everything when they don’t have enough mental and physical stimulation.
So, stay close to your cat to offer comfort and affection when you notice that they’re scared of a room.
Why Is My Cat Getting Scared All of a Sudden?
Usually, when a cat is getting scared all of a sudden, the reason is either a fear-based experience or a medical condition. Allow your cat some time to calm down without pushing and consult a professional if you notice any signs of an illness or pain.
Why Is My Cat Scared of Something I Can’t See?
Cats have better senses than humans, so they can detect noises, smells, and sights you can’t imagine. As such, it’s easy for cats to get scared by unfamiliar sounds and scents that you can’t see.
Why Is My Cat So Scared All the Time?
In general, traumatic experiences are the main reason some cats are so scared all the time. Lack of socialization and exposure to human touch can also make cats fearful of humans.
Why Is My Cat Avoiding a Room?
Cats avoid certain rooms because something scares them inside the room or they can hear, see, or smell something you can’t.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to discover what has spooked your cat out of a room when you haven’t witnessed the accident.
Try observing your cat’s body language to look for clues and be patient. Don’t force your kitty back into the room, and provide plenty of cuddles to calm down your cat’s fears.
What do you think about these 9 reasons why your cat is suddenly afraid of your room? Is your cat scared of rooms? Share your experience in the comment section.
Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Why is My Cat So Jumpy All of a Sudden?
Most cat owners deal with strange cat behavior at least once in their lifetime. And if your quest for ‘why is my cat jumpy all of a sudden’ brought you here, you’re in the right place.
The shortest solution to why a cat becomes jumpy or starts acting weird is: It is scared! A scared cat might start jumping on walls and acting strangely. But why are they scared? Let’s dive into it.
The most common reasons your cat is so jumpy all of a sudden is because of a change in environment, separation anxiety, illness, new people, new pets or wild animals, or loud noises.
Below is in depth descriptions of each cause:
#1- Change in routine/environment
You have to admit the fact that a change of place, environment, or introduction of new animals in the house can be really unsettling for your cat. Cats get nervous about small things and usually become very sensitive whenever they feel a sudden change in their routine or environment. In order to deal with this anxiety or fear, your cat might become very jumpy. The key is to make subtle environmental changes instead of making a big change at once.
If you change your cats environment, I suggest you check out this cat calming diffuser . It costs around $20, and you plug it into the wall. It emits calming spray into the air to help calm down your cat.
Another option is to try out CBD treats or oil .
#2- Cat went through trauma
A traumatic experience might possibly be the reason for adopted cats from the shelter. Who knows how badly the previous owners treated them. The kittenhood memories can also turn into fearful thoughts. Experience with other animals, shortage of food, negative human behavior, negligence of the caretakers can result in loss of trust toward human beings. Your cat might even have flashbacks or be triggered by some of your behavior. This scenario can urge the cat to behave weirdly and jump as well.
A lot of patience is required to calm such cats and build a trustworthy human-cat relation. The key is to take small steps, and don’t try to interact with your cat while they feel uncomfortable.
#3- Lack of experience
Your cat might be afraid of things she never experienced when it was a kitten. Introduction to a new world and objects or even food can trigger nervousness. For example, outdoor settings can scare the cat. If you offer a certain food to your cat for the first time, your kitty may turn its head away and start jumping or hiding behind the wall. Your cat might also become jumpy when they eat olives. To learn more, you should check out my article on why do cats like olives ?
#4- Poor socialization efforts
Lack of human interaction in the initial phase of a kitten’s life may lead to uncomfortable experiences for the rest of their lives. If they never played or spent time with human kids, sudden exposure can urge them to jump, hide, or become fearful as well. It is important that you make an effort to socialize the cats with other pets and fellow kittens at an early age in order to avoid such behavioral issues.
#5- Pain and illness
A stressed or anxious cat starts jumping when in pain. It can be an internal infection, parasitic attack, or any other health condition that can boost the depression within the animal and urge her to jump and show abnormal behavior. One common issue in cats is when your cat’s claw is growing in their pad . So, one must look into medical and psychological cures to deal with such fears.
How to calm down a jumpy cat?
There are a few methods to calm a nervous and jumpy cat. As an owner, it is your responsibility to help the poor animal get out of their scared emotional mindset and live a happy life. Here is how you can help them calm down:
a. Stress relief
Always try to be gentle, even if your kitty does something wrong. Keep your voice calm and never scold or punish them. Talk with a peaceful tone and if it still shows signs of anxiety , take them to the vet.
b. Exposing to a new environment
Shifting your cat to a new home means they have to learn to live in a new setting. Introduce the new place gradually by limiting their movement for some time. Provide them a place to hide like empty boxes or crates where they can feel safe and secure than alone. You might also want to try keeping them enclosed to certain rooms of the house. This can help them from becoming overwhelmed from the large size of a house.
c. Connecting to a new companion
A new pet in your household can result in a clash of two creatures. Cats are possessive, and they sometimes don’t like it when they have to split your love with another cat. It is very important to gradually introduce new pets to your kitten during play sessions. This way, your cat might not mind the addition of a new pet.
A jumpy cat is due to behavioral change. Some cats hide, become shy, attack, or shun eating, while some start jumping for no reason. Cats release the fear factor by doing such movements. While it usually is harmless behavior, it can be dangerous if your cat is jumping after surgery .
- Urine Problems
- Cat Training
- Memorial Page
- Disabled Cats
- Cat Questions
- Archive One
- Archive Two
- Archive Three
- Archive Four
- Kitten Care
- Cat Gallery
- More Cat Photos
- Funny Videos
- Cat Stories
- Cartoon Cats
- Cat of The Week
- Funny Photos
- Your Cat Names
- Meet Our Cats
- Meet little Mo
- Is My Cat Sick? Ebook
- Cats & Kittens Ebook
- Cat Supplies
- Cat Carriers
- Cat Furniture
- News & Articles
Cat Scared For No Reason
by Jeanine (Philadelphia)
Click here to add your own comments
Return to Cat Questions Archive One.
I'd love to hear what you think of this page or my site. Let me know if you like what you have read or if it has helped you with a problem.
It's easy to do just leave a comment in the box below and click the like / share or +1 to let others know about my site. Thank You It really is most appreciated.
Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?
- Click on the HTML link code below.
- Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.
FYI: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Follow Our Happy Cat
Search This Site
Missy & Smokey
Jul 11, 23 12:53 PM
Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional advice / treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. D o not disregard veterinary advice/treatment.