A move to an unfamiliar environment (new home, being relinquished to shelter, being rehomed, etc.) For mild fears, cats may settle down with constant exposure to the stimulus (referred to as flooding) provided there are no consequences that aggravate the fear. Many things can cause a cat to become fearful, such as: Lack of socialization as a kitten Being the target of aggression by other animals Pain and illness Being the target of abuse Stressful living conditions (too many cats, dirty conditions, tense family environment, etc.) Sniffing your face: Cats rely heavily on their strong sense of smell to give them information about … It is also often … Designate a Kitty Room. It is important to eliminate stressful behavior in cats to ensure that the cat is at ease. Identify those situations, people, places, and animals that are least likely, as well as most likely, to cause the fear. sounds produced when the mouth is first opened and then gradually closed (meowing, howling, yowling) sounds produced with the mouth held tensely open in the same position (growls, snarls, hisses, spits, chattering, and chirping). Samantha points out that “There is no exact, scientific, foolproof way to tell if a cat is a shy cat or an outgoing cat who happens to be scared.” Shy cats are, by nature, scared of more things than their bolder counterparts. Understanding Cat BehaviorCat behavior problems can be quite frustrating, but the first step to correcting them is actually understanding where your cat is coming from.First, we will show you how to read your cat's body language. Although it might make you feel better, resist the urge to pick up or cuddle a frightened cat. Over time the person can move closer at feeding times, until he or she can give the cat its food. For example, a bad experience with a small child could result in being fearful of all small children. As they age, cats often suffer a decline in functioning, including their cognitive functioning. If a cat is suddenly scared of everything, consider if anything in its life is different. There are many reasons that cats can develop fear and anxiety. Its estimated that cognitive declinereferred to as feline cognitive dysfunction, or FCDaffects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 years. Identify which simple changes you could make to prevent and alleviate their feline fears. Once the cats will eat with the cages next to each other during feeding times, you could begin to keep one cat in the cage during feeding with one out, and alternate at future feedings. In 1944, Moelk published the first phonetic study of cat sounds. Cats are usually not aggressive animals. Memory, ability to learn, awareness, and sight and hearing perception can all deteriorate in cats affected with FCD. It made sense to Kat that the behavior of cats (and dogs) would also influence the distances that they travel. Common fearful cat behavior that you can look out for is hiding, running away, shivering, and being too aggressive such as hissing, growling, spitting, biting, swatting, puffing fur and tail, scratching, arching back and flattening its ears. Other potential causes of cat anxiety can include new or moved furniture, new pet or baby in the home, or even a new home. Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your cat any type of medication for a behavior problem. Having a bad experience with a person can also make a cat fearful around people. Its causes in cats can be complex, both in terms of triggers and targets, making it challenging to find strategies to eliminate aggressive feline behavior. Common fearful cat behavior that you can look out for is hiding, running away, shivering, and being too aggressive such as hissing, growling, spitting, biting, swatting, puffing fur and tail, scratching, arching back and flattening its ears. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. For example, cats kept in a cage for a few days in a boarding facility will often get used to the situation and settle down, provided there are no events that add to the fear. Fearful cats can be brought about by quite some factors. There are some fearful behaviors that are normal and acceptable. My name is Isabelle and I'm a proud cat mommy, cat blogger and amateur photographer. Stress in cats can also be brought about by medical conditions. Observe the body language of a fearful cat and get to know what it says. Over time, the stimulus can be presented at a closer distance, or in a louder or more animated manner. Eliminating outside the litter box can be a significant problem in cats. Cat Lifespan Explained, Cat Toilet Training: How to Litter Box Train a Cat, Guide to Japanese Bobtail Cat Personality and Characteristics, Manx Cat Personality Traits and Characteristics, Why Do Cats Knead? Cats can also be affected by poor nutrition or poor maternal care during fetal development or while kittens, which can negatively impact physical and emotional development. For example, if a cat is punished or some disturbing event occurs in the presence of a particular person or other animal, the cat may begin to pair the stimulus (the person or other animal) with the unpleasant consequence (punishment or event). How to Comfort a Scared Cat Determine If Your Cat is Frightened. It is important for a cat owner to closely study his or her cat to identify what causes it to express the behavior of the frightened cat. Aggression, defined as hostile or violent behavior intended to dominate or intimidate another individual, is a fairly common behavioral problem in cats. Since some evidence has indicated the father’s role in personality, assessing and observing the kitten’s parents, particularly the father, will give some insight into the personality that a kitten may develop when it grows up. The cat soon learns to expect rewards when placed in the cage and exposed to the stimulus. Socialization is an important aspect of raising a kitten. This is characterized by the cat’s inability to vocalize. Cats … To see this page as it is meant to appear, please enable your Javascript! For example, if your cat is fearful of a particular person, you can begin with having the person sit beside the cage while your cat eats. Fears and anxieties can develop into phobias and nervous behavior can become excessive and irrational, resulting in a timid, aggressive or scared cat. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. “It won’t work long-term, but it can cause an increase in your cat’s psychological well-being,” Dr. Trimble says. This can range from rolling on their back, showing different facial expressions, crouching, and just seeming more tense or aggressive. Another thing to try is a little aromatherapy. Genetics and the early environment are other important contributing factors to the development of fear. On the other hand, any time the stimulus (e.g., other cat or person) threatens, retaliates, or displays fear toward the fearful cat, the fearful behavior has been aggravated. Because the socialization period in cats begins and ends earlier (generally between 3-9 weeks) than it does in dogs, the early environment of the kitten is most important. Fear in cats is portrayed and handled differently. To be able to identify a frightened cat it is important first of all to know the behavior of frightened cats, and some of the factors that lead to fear, and how to help such cats. Back in 1997, MAR Network Director Kat Albrecht began to study the behavioral patterns of lost cats and dogs. Try to avoid the fear-producing stimulus if possible. Is It Better Than Dehydrated Dog Food. Next, both cats could be fed while out of the cages at a distance, with one or both on halters, and then progress to having the cats side-by-side at feedings. Joint pain in older cats can also be a source of anxious behaviors, such as hiding or failing to use the litter box. Each time the cat experiences the stimulus and reacts with a fear response, the problem is likely to be further aggravated. cause the cat to stop using its litter box, Heavy Breathing Cat - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Guide To Birman Cat Personality and Characteristics, How Long Do Cats Live? All cats are different and a scared cat will be frightened by different things, and each has its way of responding to fear. You can discuss possible drug therapies with your veterinarian. Next, the cat might eat and take rewards while out of the cage, wearing a leash and harness if necessary, initially going back to an increased distance to ensure success and safety. Some cats become so frightened they lose control of their bladder or bowels and eliminate right where they are. House Soiling. Cats that are handled frequently and regularly during the first few weeks of life are generally more exploratory, social, and outgoing. A cat may be successful at getting the fearful stimulus to leave by displaying aggressive behavior, thus reinforcing the behavior. For treatment to be most successful, it is important to be able to place the fearful stimuli along a gradient from low to high. Other signs of fearful cats are shaking, dilated pupils, panting, drooling, foot pad sweating and shedding of its hair. The goal of this training is to allow the cat to assume a relaxed and happy body posture and facial expression in the presence of the stimulus. With the information above, it is now easier for cat owners to identify distressed symptoms in cats thus being in a position to help them get better. Some owners reward the fearful behavior by reassuring their pets with vocal intonations or body contact, which leads the animal to assume that what they are doing at that moment is appropriate. This can be accomplished with a figure eight harness and leash or, if needed, a crate. She watches you from afar. Extreme fear can be identified by certainly scared cat behaviors such as defecation and urination. Next, teach your cat to pair a non-fearful situation with food rewards. There is no point in having the cat stay if it is clearly distressed. Some will recover quickly from the scary events while others will take longer. Cats are observers and very cautious by nature. For most cats, a program of counter-conditioning and desensitization will be required to acclimatize the cat to the stimuli that causes the fearful response. If at any time the cat starts to become anxious or act like it wants to leave, the other cat should be moved farther away until the nervous cat relaxes. Any ongoing interactions that provoke fear need to be identified and removed. Your cat may have encountered a predator and no longer feels safe. The book describes in a fun and visual way the personality of our feline friends. But a natural, quick fix to nervous or scared cat behavior is one you probably already have in your house: Catnip. Many cats react positively to calming synthetic pheromones like Feliway or Comfort Zone. If all this information on feral cats has made you consider going the route of “man’s best friend,” use this great course to avoid making impulsive decisions and plan for success. The Fearful Cat When cats feel threatened, they usually respond in three ways to the object, person or situation they perceive as a threat: fight, flee or freeze. The behavior of frightened cats can also be expressed if the cat has gone through a traumatizing event such as hearing gun fire, loud fireworks or even a visit to the veterinary clinic. Training Your Fearful Cat Signs and Symptoms of Fear and Anxiety in Your Cat. … The situation may then need to be changed to advance the training. This gives the cat a choice, and it will feel relaxed to interact with you. These cats may never become outgoing and highly sociable. Diese Website benutzt Cookies. Cats that are fearful of other cats in the home might be fed in two different cages in the same room. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. First it is necessary to identify all of the stimuli that are making your cat fearful. Cats can also learn through the effect of even just one unpleasant experience that was intense or traumatic. If the fears are mild, then owner intervention may help to prevent the fears from progressing. As a passionate pet enthusiast and long-time cat owner who has experienced the many aspects of what it means to care for cats I love to share my experiences with you. Cats are creatures of habit. The person could then attempt to feed the cat favored treats through the bars of the cage. Cats can develop a fear of people or other animals as a result of having only limited exposure to people and other animals when they were young. As they age, cats often suffer a decline in functioning, including their cognitive functioning. If a cat is often a target of abuse, it is bound to express scared behavior. Cats can either get scared indoors or outdoors depending on where the scary event takes place which may lead to them entirely avoiding such a place. It can be hard to tell if your cat is keeping her distance because she’s … When a cat’s behavior becomes too threatening to the people around it, it is important to seek help from a specialist. Sorry, you have Javascript Disabled! They will quickly learn when it's meal time if … The most recommended option for cats acting scared or anxious is the Feliway Diffuser (see on Amazon.com). 5 Reasons for Cat Kneading, Turkish Van Cat Personality and Characteristics, Eliminate Cat Urine Odor - How to Get rid of Cat Urine Smell, Pregnant Cat: How to Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant, Sick Cat Symptoms: 7 Warning Signs for Sick Cats, Free Ebook: Understanding Cat Behavior and Body Language, The Cat Language Bible - Review and Insights, Cat Spraying: How to Deal with Cats Who Mark Their Territory, Ragdoll Cat Personality and Characteristics. A cat’s behavior is also influenced by their upbringing and past experiences. The complete guide to understanding the behavior and body language of your cat. This deterioration can cause disturbances i… Early, frequent, and pleasant encounters with people of all ages and types can help prevent later fears. Dogs wag their tails, run up to you for a hug, and bark boisterously. To also ensure less distress in cats you can create clear pathways that it can use to reach its resources such as the litter box. Distribute toys for the cat to play with in its solo time. Medications can provide additional help in treating inappropriate elimination when the behavior is in response to stress or anxiety. Here are some tips and advice on how to calm a cat who’s scared, stressed, or even just hyper. This is not always easy and needs to be very exact. This can be achieved by interacting with the cat at its pace. Bell notes a few subtle differences in cat behavior to look for: Shy Cats The aggressive behavior will only get worse and the cat will stop interacting positively with you. Be alert with changes in your cat’s behavior. If at any time during this process your cat shows fearful behavior, you’ve proceeded too quickly and will need to start over from the beginning. Before a behavior modification program can begin, you must be able to control your cat. When your cat is no longer showing fearful behaviors, slowly move the fear stimulus closer as you continue to treat, praise, or play with your cat. When frightened, a cat may hide, try to appear smaller by rolling into a ball, or place its ears back on its head and be immobile. Relaxing is the key and is the first step in changing the fearful cat’s behavior. Reward the cat for sitting quietly and calmly. If this is a sudden change in demeanor, there will likely be a fear-based explanation. Causes of Fear and Anxiety in Cats. But how to understand your cat better? There are many reasons that cats can develop fear and anxiety. Sometimes having a full house to explore is too much for a cat, so you may need to temporarily... Take It Easy. Give incentives such as food treats for any positive behavior such as walking in the room. Next, examine what factors may be reinforcing the behavior. If the cat seems even more aggressive about the meat, don’t use meat to work with the cat. Due to a background in search-and-rescue (searching for lost people), Kat understood the critical connection between behavior and the distances that people travel when lost. This will create a positive association with its environment. For the meat-aggressive cat, use only baby food as treats. Cats will often hide when ill or in pain which may cause the cat to stop using its litter box. Scared cats can also be exhibited by the cat curling up its body, tucking its tail under its body, and holding its body and head low to the ground. Start by exposing the cat to stimuli that are sufficiently mild that they do not evoke fear. Cats should be given time to deal with and get over their stressful experiences for them to be able to go back to normal. Do this slowly. Combined, this is what indicates if your cat is scared or anxious in certain situations! Understanding Cat Behavior: Anxiety, Fear, and Hyperactivity “There are many things that can stress out cats,” says Christine Calder, a certified veterinary behaviorist and the director of behavior services for Midcoast Humane. Please login and assign a widget area to at least 2 of the 5 search widget columns. Some of the triggers of stressed behavior in cats are new environments, quick movements or loud noise, strange people or animals, or even an active child. Without adequate, continuous, and positive interactions with people and other animals, cats may develop fears and exhibit fearful behavior. On the other hand, a cat may show signs of agitation or aggression, such as dilated pupils, arched back, pilo-erection (hair standing on end), and hissing. You just brought home a new cat, and your old cat wants her dead. This may mean confining the cat when children visit, or when the house is full of strangers. All rights reserved. Changes in Eating Behavior. Which person(s) or animal(s) is the cat afraid of and where does the fearful behavior occur? If your cat is hiding or fleeing, then it has anxiety. If it says do not approach then don’t or else it will go into hiding. If you see body language that doesn't appear normal for the personality of your cat, including the behaviors that we have already listed here, get them checked out. Baby food has to be licked and it seems to work better with meat-aggressive cats. © Copyright 2018 by Isabelle Rousseau. What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food? If the cat acts afraid during training, the stimuli are too intense and should be stopped. Each time the cat escapes, the behavior has been reinforced. So to help your scared cat be happy again, try following the tips and advice on these pages. Drug therapy can also be useful to reduce fears and anxieties during times when the stimulus cannot be avoided. Your cat might feel threatened. Sometimes a number of unpleasant events that were paired or associated with a person or animal can lead to increasing fear. Disruption to routine makes a cat skittish. Interestingly, feral cats like to bury food they catch in the morning to eat later in the day, another tell-tale sign of feral-cat behavior. Whether your cat is crouched or her ears are pulled back, we will tell you what that body language means. The Social Component of Fearful Behaviors in Cats “Fearful behaviors are common in cats,” says the ASPCA, “in part because most of us don’t socialize them as well as we do dogs, and we don’t expect them to be as active a part of our families.” Often there are certain situations, people, and places that provoke the behavior more than others. Respect Your Cat’s Space. By nature, they are more apt to hide or run when faced with something that frightens them. Even experienced cat owners might find themselves perplexed by the behaviors of a new feline addition to their household if they have adopted a fearful cat. Save all favored rewards for these retraining sessions so that the cat is highly motivated to get the reward. Cats are notoriously hard to read. Wenn du die Website weiter nutzt, gehen wir von deinem Einverständnis aus. This learning may then generalize to similar situations. A behavioral consultation is needed for cats that are showing extreme fear and/or aggression. This can then advance to play sessions, catnip and treat times, and other times when the cats can “enjoy” themselves in each other’s company. Conclusion. Training Your Fearful Cat to Be Confident Create a Calming Environment. You must set the cat up for success. Genetics plays a role in the development of fears; therefore select kittens that are non-fearful and sociable. Gradually the stimulus intensity is increased. 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