Why is my cat fearful? How to solve the problem?

Does your cat show fear? This behavior may be natural in certain situations. However, if repeated, it may be the result of significant trauma. What are the reasons for this fear? How to solve this problem and avoid aggressive deviance? Our cat specialists answer you.

Why is a cat fearful?

Cats are like us; they have different characters, their own personalities and feelings of their own. We meet all kinds of cats, homebodies, extroverts, adventurers, lovers of cuddles, independents, good-natured, hyperactive, fearful, shy, pranksters, etc.

Fearful behavior in cats stems directly from these very personal factors. Contrary to popular belief, not all cats like to live independently, outside chasing mice at all hours of the night or competing for their piece of territory with the other toms in the neighborhood. Some prefer, on the contrary, the tranquility of a welcoming and reassuring house or even your presence nearby at all times.

Fear, a childhood trauma

Are Cats Scared of Candles? Fear in cats is a behavior that is both natural and unique. Apart, because it is a particular feeling that requires specific attention for the well-being of the animal to avoid the risk of aggressive drifts. Natural, because it often finds its origin in the early childhood of the kitten. Indeed, he learns to socialize in contact with his mother, his brothers and sisters, his environment and humans. This learning is done from the first weeks. A kitten that is fearful of humans after 12 weeks has usually not been properly socialized.

The mother teaches her young to manage stress and identify risks. She teaches them the hierarchy of sources of danger in order to help them recognize the sounds from which they must protect themselves, such as the barking of a nearby dog ​​or the noise of cars, others which are harmless, such as music or a slamming door. 

Thus, an orphan kitten cannot have this unique teaching; he turns out to be more fearful as he grows up, because everything can seem to him to be a source of potential danger. This behavior is an emotional pain for the animal which feels stressed and in permanent danger. As they grow older, they tend to develop a naturally anxious nature which can lead to medical complications such as digestive disorders,

Fear as a result of trauma

Some cats may have had a traumatic experience that will have left its mark. It is therefore common for an abused cat to become fearful, even hostile towards humans. This is a natural defense mechanism. Some cats have suffered violence and rejection that has led them to develop a wild character; any human presence, even gentle and willing, can be a threat in their eyes. It is then very difficult to domesticate and tame these very independent cats.

Some cats from shelters are also particularly fearful and suspicious. This caution is justified by their sometimes difficult and violent past, the need to suddenly make a place for themselves among other cats, sometimes very numerous within the same space, and to be placed in contact with unknown humans. Once adopted, these cats may need more time to acclimate to a new environment.

How to detect fearful behavior in cats?

It is important to look for a solution to your cat’s fearful behavior. However, before acting, make sure beforehand that it is indeed a fear and not another disorder. Indeed, some cats isolate themselves, show themselves fearful or aggressive when they are in pain, when they are injured or when they are sick. If in doubt, consult your veterinarian.

Fearful behavior in cats manifests itself in several ways.

  • The fearful cat hides: it takes refuge in places where it feels safe and unreachable, such as under beds, cupboards, tops of high furniture, etc.
  • The fearful cat may spit or growl at your approach or near anything it can identify as a threat.
  • The fearful cat may have bristly hair and a defensive posture. Facing the ground and with dilated pupils, he is ready to flee at any moment.
  • The fearful cat tends to jump at the slightest noise, even the most innocuous.
  • The fearful cat is stressed and may sweat. This sweating is observed at the level of the pads which leave a wet trace on the ground when it moves.

What to do to remedy this problem?

To help your cat to be less fearful, it is advisable to adopt the right gestures intended to reassure him and to avoid any situation which could be a source of stress.

Welcoming a fearful cat into your home

For a cat to feel good, it needs to be confident. When he arrives at your home, he feels a real upheaval. His environment is no longer the same, he loses his bearings in terms of smells and noises, and he no longer mixes with the same cats or the same humans. A fearful cat will have more difficulty than another to acclimatize.

Prepare a comfortable, cozy, and pleasant space for him to rest away from the noise of the house. This place must be able to be a dedicated refuge. Place his basket, his bowls, and his litter (out of the way). Give him time to gain confidence and do not try to solicit him. 

He himself will take the initiative to go out when he feels able. When your fearful cat is out of her shelter, introduce her to the family members one by one. He will thus be able to calmly get used to the smells and voices of each person. Don’t ask for his affection if he’s not ready to give it to you. Wait for him to come by himself to pick up your contact. If your cat is fearful, do not hesitate to establish a schedule for meals, play, and hygiene. This routine will reassure him, that cats are sensitive to change.

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