Why is My Cat Scared of Everything?
Some cats are much more skittish than others, and a few of those cats seem to be scared of absolutely everything. While having a fearful cat can be stressful and nerve-wracking, understanding the cause of fear and anxiety in cats is the first step to helping them feel better.
Anxiety is a common reason why cats are generally scared of their surroundings. However, sudden changes to their environment, pain or illness, and aging can cause cats to become very fearful suddenly. This can happen even if the cat used to be very confident before.
In this article, we will be explaining everything that cat owners need to know about fear and extreme anxiety in cats. This will include explaining what causes fear in cats, as well as how cat owners can help especially fearful cats. Let’s get into it.
4 Causes for Fear in Cats
There are four main causes of fear in cats. The first cause is chronic anxiety, which is what usually causes cats to be more skittish throughout their whole lives. Meanwhile, some other factors such as sudden environmental changes, injuries, and illnesses could cause a cat to suddenly become very fearful.
Here are the four main causes of fear in cats:
Chronic anxiety in cats is more common than you may think. Anxiety in cats can be caused by genetics, past negative experiences, or a combination of both. Some signs that your cat may have anxiety include but may not be limited to:
- Avoiding eye contact with you
- Holding their tail close to their body and flicking their tail often
- Having dilated pupils
- Having their ears pinned back or to the side
- Frequently hiding or trying to escape
- Aggressive behaviors like biting or swiping
Dealing with severe, chronic anxiety in cats can be complex. As a result, it is a good idea to consult with your vet if you suspect that your cat has chronic anxiety.
Pain and Illnesses
Being in pain or feeling sick could cause a cat to suddenly become fearful. This is usually because of a rise in anxiety due to the pain or symptoms that they are experiencing. Some other signs of pain to look out for in cats include:
- Lethargy and being less playful than usual
- A reduced appetite
- Having difficulty or avoiding jumping, climbing, and going upstairs
- Restless behavior
- Vocalizing more often (especially when touched or moving)
- Suddenly hiding and being withdrawn
- Excessive grooming or scratching (especially in one specific location)
- A sudden lack of grooming
- Has difficulty getting in and out of the litterbox, or using it altogether
- A sudden onset of aggressive behavior
- Sitting, standing, walking, or sleeping with an unusual gait
- Changes in their eyes (dilated pupils, squinting, staring)
In addition to pain, illness can cause cats to become suddenly fearful as well. Here are some general signs of illness to look out for in cats.
- A reduced appetite and weight loss
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Increased thirst and urination
- Discharge coming from the eyes and nose
- Unusual breathing sounds or rapid breathing
- Coughing and sneezing
- Bad smelling breath
- Skin irritation and hair loss
- Hiding more often
If you suspect that your cat may be sick or experiencing pain, then you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Sudden Changes in Their Environment
Cats can be very sensitive to changes in their environment, and big changes could make a cat very anxious or fearful.
Here are some examples of big changes that could cause fear in cats:
- The loss of a loved one
- Introducing a new pet
- Introducing a new family member or roommate
- Someone leaving the home for an extended amount of time
Most of the time, cats bounce back and become more confident once they have gotten used to these changes, however, if their unusual behavior persists then it may be a good idea to consult with your vet.
With old age comes joint pain, symptoms of medical conditions associated with aging, and confusion in cats. As a result, it’s not unusual for some cats to become more fearful as they age, especially if they are approaching their senior years.
How to Help Your Fearful Cat
Luckily, there are some ways that cat owners can help their fearful cats. There are both short-term and long-term solutions for dealing with fear and chronic anxiety in cats.
Here are some ways that you can help your fearful cat:
Give Your Cat a Safe Space
When your cat is exhibiting signs of being very fearful, it is best to give them some space during that moment. This will help them feel more comfortable and prevent them from biting or scratching you. This is a short-term solution to fear in cats, and you may also want to explore some other long-term options if you frequently have to do this.
Give Your Cat Some Alone Time
Additionally, it is a good idea to leave your cat alone for a while if they are showing signs of extreme fear or anxiety. Like the first solution, this is a short-term way to help your fearful cat. In addition, it may be a good idea to explore some other solutions. Don’t leave your cat alone for too long, but let them have some personal space in a safe area to calm down.
Find Out What Things Scare Your Cat and Keep Them Away
A more long-term solution to managing your cat’s fear is to figure out what kinds of things make them anxious. This way you can keep the things that make your cat fearful away from them, which will also help reduce their anxiety.
Socialize Them to New Things Slowly and Carefully
Some cats will be very fearful simply because they haven’t been socialized properly. As a result, slowly introducing your cat to more environments, people, and objects will help bring them out of their shell and make them a bit less fearful.
Consult Your Vet
There are times when you should consult your vet about your cat’s fearfulness.
Here are some instances where you should speak with a vet about fear in cats:
- Your cat might be sick or in pain
- Your cat is suddenly fearful
- Your cat has chronic anxiety and could benefit from anti-anxiety medication
Cats can be scared of many things, including loud noises, strangers, new environments, and even other animals. Understanding the reasons behind your cat’s fear can help you provide them with the appropriate support and care. It is important to create a safe and secure environment for your cat by providing them with hiding places and using positive reinforcement to encourage them to explore new things at their own pace. With patience and understanding, you can help your cat overcome their fears and build a strong bond with them. Remember to seek professional help if your cat’s fear becomes excessive or interferes with their daily life.