What to do if the cat has suffered a trauma or is afraid. Symptoms, behavior and causes. Useful information on how to handle a scared cat.
Scared cat: behavior
The feline personality can be unpredictable and, out of the blue, we can end up with a fearful cat without even knowing why.
The behavior of a frightened cat can be characterized by aggression (for example, if it pulls out its claws and blows when it is afraid of a threat) or closure (for example, if it runs away or hides).
A more shy and introverted cat will respond to fear with withdrawal: it is in this case that the frightened cat hides or runs away.
The behavior of a frightened cat is also related to the magnitude of the threat (real or perceived by the feline). For example, if the cat is terrified, he may feel helpless, freeze because he is too scared to run away.
The behavior of the cat, therefore, cannot be described in a generic way. There are many cases and the feline reactions are just as unpredictable.
The main symptoms that act as a warning to fear of the cat are:
- if it runs away
- if he hides
- if it remains immobile even in the face of a threat (real or apparent)
- if you defecate and / or urinate abnormally, away from the litter box, in unusual places (a frightened cat poops or pees because it loses bowel and bladder control)
- if it engages in aggressive behavior
Aggressive behavior sees these symptoms: the cat hisses, bites, scratches, tends to back away ruffling the hair and tail, moves hysterically and lowers its ears.
Other physical signals:
- Dilated pupils
- Eyes wide open
- Crouched position
If the cat is suddenly scared, the reasons may relate to a trauma suffered and escaped your eyes: an insect could have stung it, a child could have played inappropriately with your cat… another animal threatens its territory (if you live in open countryside, even foxes and stone martens can cause fright).
Cat scared of dog
A relaxed cat, who feels comfortable in the territory in which he lives, is generally not frightened by a dog but even here there can be several cases. When can a cat be scared of a dog?
- If the cat has just been adopted and there is already a dog in the house
- If the cat is already at home and feels threatened (even if only territorially or emotionally) by a newly arrived dog
- If the cat has to face a large and / or aggressive dog
A bolder cat will not be afraid of the arrival of a dog. On the contrary, a more shy cat could suffer a lot and be scared not only for a possible fight with the dog, but also for the competition: the stake is the attention of the owner!
Scared cat: causes
If the frightened cat has just arrived in a new environment, don’t worry, it will be able to settle in and “take courage” within a few days. At this stage you just need to be understanding and patient and follow the advice in the paragraph dedicated to how to calm a cat who is afraid.
If the cat is already well integrated into its environment, there are several factors that can scare it, including:
- A very lively child
- A loud noise
- A sudden movement from someone or something
- A bug
- A new person, whom the cat has never seen
- A new animal that the cat has never seen
- Any stressful event such as a trip, a visit to the vet, a new flea treatment …
- The presence of another cat
The cat can be frightened suddenly and without an apparent cause: the feline has a perception of reality of its own. There is no shortage of cases in which the cat completely changes attitude when children arrive in the house.
How to calm a scared cat
A cat suddenly frightened must be treated with care and caution to prevent it from escaping as a result of the fright.
To calm the frightened cat, try to identify the triggering cause. For example: if the cat is scared of a dog, move the two animals away and manage the contact with gradual exposure. If the dog has just arrived (or if the cat has just arrived and is afraid of your dog), keep in mind that both animals need to get used to each other. Start by carving out separate spaces and make them come into contact with caution and especially a little at a time. Do not miss attention to either of the two animals.
If the cat is scared of a new human tenant (a new owner or partner who has just arrived in the house), familiarize the two by using the food!
Food can reassure the cat! Take some kibble in your hands and start a path of trust: lower yourself to the floor and stretch your arm so that the cat can eat from your palm.
For the occasion, use special kibble, which the cat has never eaten. In this way, the cat will project itself towards the novelty and it will be easier to overcome an immediate trauma or a strong fright.
If the cat is scared of another cat, just like the dog, be careful to allocate adequate space for both animals. Territoriality, between individuals of the same species, is even stronger!