Why is My Cat Acting Strange & Scared?

Being a cat owner, you know that cats can get startled by just about anything. A neighborhood dog barking, something falling off the counter, or music that’s too loud. Sometimes you can be relaxing, and your cat will suddenly become terrified for an unknown reason.

Since cats have sensitive hearing, and their whiskers help them pick up on just about everything happening in their immediate space, it isn’t uncommon for something harmless to make your cat feel scared. This fear, though, should typically subside relatively quickly, especially if your cat is removed from the situation or the stimulus is no longer present.

So, when nothing noticeable has happened, and they just can’t seem to get comfortable, it can be stressful to see your kitty frightened. It can be especially confusing if your usually confident, curious, and boisterous feline starts acting nervous in your home for no apparent reason.

Let’s talk about some explanations as to why your cat might feel frightened – and how you can make them feel better!

Likely Explanations for Your Cat’s Strange & Scared Behavior:

If you’re unsure and disheartened by your cat’s skittish reaction or demeanor, there are many possible causes. At Katten TrimSalon, we have compiled a list of likely reasons your cat has gotten scared.

Your cat is still adjusting – If you’re a new cat owner and your feline family member is on edge – don’t worry! Just like humans, cats need to adapt to new surroundings, and it takes time for them to feel comfortable in your home. Help them feel safe with positive reinforcements and respect their boundaries. Letting your cat explore on their own can make their adjustment period easier. Don’t force pets for cuddles if they want to be left alone and let them get the lay of the land! Holding your cat the right way is also very important.

They may be sick or not feel well – If your usually cool, calm, and collected kitty starts to act like a skittish cat – hiding and running from you, it might be because your cat is sick and is trying to hide away. Cats have an instinct to hide when they feel vulnerable or injured. If you notice this and any other abnormal symptoms – give your vet a ring to see if you should get them checked out.

They haven’t been exposed to something – New things, experiences, people, places, or animals are all things that can cause your cat to feel nervous. If you are bringing your cat to somewhere they’ve never been to or introducing a new person, they might be initially unsure. Exposing your cat to different sounds and things and socializing them from the beginning can help them feel more confident entering new situations. If your cat is anxious, you might want to consider if something is happening that they are not used to.

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Something outside has startled them – If your cat is a window dweller – as many are – they are constantly taking in stimuli from their viewpost. Something as small as a neighbor walking by can make your cat feel threatened – especially if they’re predisposed to being skittish. If your cat is seemingly relaxed and then comes running from the window, they have most likely spotted something outside they recognize as a threat.

New animals in your home – Bringing a new animal home can understandably disrupt life for any pets you already own. A cat used to being the sole pet at home can feel nervous seeing a new animal entering their space – whether it be a fellow cat or a dog. Some cats adjust quickly, but some might take time to acclimate to their new feline/canine sister or brother. Make them feel comfortable and facilitate socialization between them. Using positive reinforcements for friendly behavior is always a plus!

Sometimes, if you’re just lounging with your cat, they will suddenly jolt or run away. This can be confusing as you might not have heard or seen anything transpire. Your cat probably heard something that you couldn’t and got startled. Due to a better sense of hearing and general disposition to hide, you may never know what exactly incited fear in your feline. But don’t worry; it will likely be a temporary bout of anxiety.

They are experiencing hearing or sight impairments – Like humans, it can be very disorienting for cats to feel as though they can’t sense everything around them. If your cat has decreased sight or hearing, something inconspicuous can seem like a threat. If they cannot hear you approach, even your touch might scare the living daylights out of them! Because cats have such great hearing if your cat is suddenly not responding like it typically would or getting scared by things it was once able to sense – you might want to check in on their hearing or sight.

Ways To Soothe Your Scared Cat

Clearly, from the list above, it doesn’t take much to startle a cat. Cats are naturally on high alert and often act defensively if they recognize something they don’t know or haven’t seen before. If your cat gets startled and is on edge or tucking itself away, you might be wondering how you can help it calm down.

Treat their anxiety – If your cat is always notably nervous or stressed, asking your vet about ways to treat their anxiety might make them feel better. Animals get anxiety just like humans, so your cat might just need a little extra attention to feel comfortable. No matter what is causing the fear, it is heart-wrenching to see your kitty scared all the time. When anxious behavior is exhibited, don’t punish or reprimand your cat. Support and comfort them and if you notice their demeanor is consistently nervous, ask your vet about medication options.

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Consistent environments – Know your cat and understand that they might just always feel scared entering new spaces. Some kitties are more adaptable than others. If yours is easily frightened, you may want to avoid changing their environment as much as possible. Give your cat a space it knows well and feels comfortable. Especially as cats age and their senses might start to diminish, it is helpful to keep your cat somewhere they are familiar.

Expose them to what’s scaring them – Obviously, some things that will shock your cat are unavoidable. If you have children and their friends, come over, are getting a new pet, or are trying to teach yourself the drums – show your cat that these things are not a threat. Exposing your cat to as much as possible in the early stages will make them feel more confident that these things are not threatening but just a part of life. If they are scared by something, use positive reinforcement for calm behavior to show them that everything is okay and they can relax.

Knowing available resources to calm them – Natural herbs, incense, and soothing music are all things that can help your cat feel less frightened. Some cat owners will use animal-specific CBD products or synthetic pheromones to calm anxiety. If you know your cat is easily scared – keep materials on hand to help them feel better in any situation.

Give your cat love & be understanding

As disheartening as it is to see your cat scared, it is likely a natural reaction to something that isn’t even harmful. Pay attention to their behavior and look for noticeable shifts in their demeanor that might indicate an injury or illness. Help your cat from the start by exposing them to as many things as possible. Let them be curious so they can be confident! Always comfort your cat and never punish their anxious behavior. Instead, use positive reinforcement, love, and support to make them feel as relaxed as possible.

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