By Vicki Smirnova, Senior Editor at thepets.net
It’s no secret that cats are mysterious creatures. So precious and detached, they never cease to amaze us with their independence and unusual behavior. One of the mysteries over which many owners are puzzled is cat fears. What are cats most afraid of? What is the nature of these fears, and can they be overcome?
1. Minor Stressors
Cats are known to be very light sleepers. Rarely can you sneak up even on a deeply sleeping cat. Being on the lookout for fear of being caught off guard is a natural adaptive safety system for cats. Surely this has saved many wild cats’ lives more than once.
If a cat is still taken by surprise in a state of a deep sleep, this will lead to an immediate and, as a rule, excessive mobilization of all body systems, otherwise known as stress. To minimize such stressful situations, household members should remember that a cat needs personal space to realize its instincts.
Identify several places that the cat uses to rest and make it a rule not to disturb it during sleep in these places. Try not to force the pet to do something if it is not in the mood. Keep the toilet tray, food, and water bowls in a safe, comfortable place. Eating food is a very delicate and intimate process for a cat.
Such daily mini-stresses not only lead to mental discomfort but also significantly affect the metabolism of the animal: they cause sharp fluctuations of hormones, a jump of glucose, etc. In a word, stress is harmful, and the ability to minimize this harm is in household members’ hands. If there are several pets in the apartment, try to separate their eating areas: at least have two different sets of bowls for two animals.
Also, try to take care of the delimitation of places of rest. For example, if a cat and a dog get along in an apartment, try to provide a resting place for the cat on the hills (windowsill, wardrobe, bedside table) and the dog – on the floor (on the rug). Such delimitation of recreation areas will allow animals to contact at will, and not out of despair.
Cats really dislike many strong scents – this applies to natural scents, especially citrus, and chemical ones. This phobia is again based on the predatory nature of felines.
Cats almost always react to the smells of valerian, for example. This is due to the fact that these plants contain nepetalactone and actinidin, which are substances that mimic feline sex hormones. Therefore, small kittens practically ignore the valerian, and bigger cats love this smell a lot.
If you know which odors your cat won’t tolerate, this feature can be turned to your advantage. For example, if the cat likes to scratch furniture or sleeps on your bed. It is necessary to wipe the area you want to scare the cat away with something that cats do not like the smell of.
Or vice versa, if you want to accustom your cat to a house or a bed for sleeping, a scratching post, even a litter box, it makes sense to use the smells that attract it. It is worth the effort to accustom the cat to his place like a special cat’s bed. Cats are creatures that love and appreciate convenience and comfort unlike any other. Use their strange attitude to smells in your favor.
You can easily prepare such a thing, and it is extremely effective – a mixture of water with lemon juice (orange, grapefruit – any citrus) or any citrus essential oil. Cats do not like such sour and pungent smells, but they are very pleasant for people. Therefore, if you prepare this water and spray from a spray bottle on the furniture, a pleasant citrus aroma will spread in your apartment, but the cat will avoid it. This same product can be used to wipe the leaves of flowers if your pet loves to chew them.
It’s no surprise that cats dilate with horror at the sight of a bath, a basin, or another water reservoir. Why are cats afraid of water the most? It is all about their nature. The cat’s undercoat, which creates an air cushion, plays a huge role in the animal’s thermoregulation. It helps cats, especially those living outdoors and deprived of home comfort, to survive both cold and heat.
However, as soon as the cat gets wet, natural protection disappears. And this threatens illness or, worse, death. That is why the overwhelming majority of cats, who are actually excellent swimmers, try to avoid bathing in every way and if their fur coat is still wet, they shake it off and lick it to dry off as quickly as possible, according to Pet MD. Wet fur gets dirty and tangled much faster and a neat cat really does not like it!
4. Loud Noises
Just now, your pet absolutely fearlessly jumped off the closet and pulled something delicious from the table right in front of the whole family. At the same time, there was not a shadow of fear or embarrassment on their insolent face. And now, hearing the noise of a switched vacuum cleaner, it is already pressing their ears, rushing to hide as fast as they can.
What happened? Why does a brave hero turn into a scared animal, shaking like an aspen leaf? There are two clear reasons for this. First, this is the normal reaction of any predator to a sudden sound – almost always a sign of danger. Secondly, the cat’s sensitive hearing, which allows it to distinguish their beloved owner’s steps when they have not yet entered the house, amplifies any sound for the animal at times. What for us is the noise of a vacuum cleaner, for a cat, is the roar of a jet engine. Therefore, noise and sudden loud noises are what cats are afraid of.
5. (Some) Dogs
It is generally accepted that the most common and beloved pets – cats and dogs – are two eternally warring armies. But not everyone knows the answer to the question of why they hate one another so much.
In fact, everything is quite simple: these animals express their emotions in exactly the opposite way, which is why cats are afraid of dogs. For example, a dog, rejoicing, gets up on its hind legs and barks loudly. The cat visually increases its height, arching its back, and hisses when preparing to attack. A dog, expressing its friendliness, wags its tail, and a cat does this when irritated and nervous. So the dog, tuned in to a pleasant acquaintance, rushing with all its might to the cat with bark, is unlikely to meet with a cat’s mutual understanding.
We often hear from the owners: ‘my cat is afraid of strangers’. Indeed, not every cat is happy with strangers in its house. Strangers, coming to the apartment, bring with them other people’s smells and cause anxiety – what to expect from this visit? Some cats experience these emotions very strongly. After all, it rules its territory, and the guests are malicious violators of the border.
Therefore, many cats are not only unhappy with strangers, but also try to hide while strangers are in the house. And when they are trying to get to know each other better, cats use claws and teeth. Of course, this does not apply to all animals. For many, natural curiosity prevails over distrust. But still, most cats prefer the company of their relatives. Especially if the animal had a negative experience of communicating with people – be it a veterinarian, who gave an injection or any other person who offended him.
You can use special calming supplements for cats to help relieve your pet from stress and excitement, VetriScience Composure can help reduce anxiety, nervous meowing, and hiding due to stress. These tasty chews feature clinically proven ingredients that typically work within 30 minutes. Composure is recommended for thunderstorms, fireworks, traveling, veterinary visits, separation anxiety and any other stressful occasions. Comp
Vicki Smirnova is a professional pet writer and Senior Editor on ThePets.net. She began creating informational articles that help pet owners live in harmony with their pets. Vicki also enjoys spending time with her family and taking care of her cat, Brenda.