How To Identify a Scared Cat and How To Calm a Cat

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How To Identify a Scared Cat and How To Calm a Cat

People often think that fear is an emotion only human being feels. However, it will surprise you to know that our beloved feline friends, our cats, can also get scared at times. Since we cannot understand the language of cats, we have to look for signs and indications to see whether our cat is indeed scared.

Our guide explores the common reasons why cats get scared, the signs of fear among them, and how you can deal with scared cats in the short and long term.

Do Cats Get Scared?

We often think that cats are very strong, aloof animals and feel no emotion. This is why, when we tell people that cats also get scared easily, they have trouble believing us!

However, these mysterious animals can get scared by many things: from fireworks to loud sounds and new animals. You do not want your cat to stay in a state of fear for a prolonged period, so it is best to calm your cat as soon as possible.

This is because chronic fear can cause your cat to become irritable, unhealthy, and difficult to handle. After all, you want to have a relaxed, calm cat as your pet, since this is the only way you can spend quality time with them!

A scared gray kitten is sitting on grass

How to Spot That a Cat Is Scared?

This is one of the most difficult things that a cat owner has to do. Sometimes, you know a scared cat when you see one. However, cats are emotionally complex, because of which they can often hide that they are scared pretty well. As a responsible cat owner, you should be aware of the common signs of scared cats so that if you see any, you can work on addressing the root of the fear immediately.

A scared cat’s pupils are often dilated, so you will see the large black spots in their eyes become significantly larger if they are genuinely afraid. The second sign of a scared cat is that its fur may puff up, or it may arch its back. The third common sign is that it tries to make itself smaller by crouching low on the ground and hiding its tail under it.

These responses can probably be explained by their wild roots, since in the wild if a cat made itself smaller, it would be less obvious to predators. In more extreme cases, scared cats often run away from their house since the source of fear maybe something at home. Other common signs indicating a scared cat are hissing, excessive grooming, and urinating outside the litter.

A scared cat is hiding

Are There Any Physical Symptoms?

Scared cats can also display physical symptoms of fear and anxiety. These can include blocked bladders or blood in the urine as well. These are signs of extreme fear, which is why you should work towards reducing your cat’s stress as soon as possible to prevent the physical symptoms from getting worse.

What Are the Common Causes That Scare Cats?

Now that we know what a scared cat looks like, what is it that frightens a cat in the first place? It is necessary to know the root causes of the fear to keep your cat calm. There is no fixed answer to this since every cat is unique and maybe scared by a different stimulus.

However, the most common causes of fear among cats are loud sounds (such as loud music or fireworks), new people, new cats/pets, and possible predators.

These are some of the most common factors that scare a cat, and most of these will be pretty obvious since your cat will start displaying signs of fear once it confronts them. For instance, when your cat hears fireworks, it may hide in a small room, or when it sees a possible predator, its fur can stand up.

A scared kitten is hiding in a cardboard box

Always Keep Calm

If you want to know how to calm your cat, the first thing you need to do is keep calm yourself. This is because your cat can sense if you are scared. So if you act stressed in front of a scared cat, the chances are that the poor kitty will get even more distressed. This is why if you see your cat displaying any signs of fear, maintain a level head, so you do not frighten your cat even more. Keeping calm will also help you act rationally.

Make a Private Space for Them

The second way to keep a cat calm is by making a private space for them, which could be a small, den-like room or a cat house with walls. This is because a scared cat will always want to go to a place where it feels safe and protected. If you have a safe space set up for them already, your scared cat will immediately rush into it and will calm down eventually.

Invest in a Desensitization CD

If you want to know how to calm a cat in front of things it is likely to face, the best thing to do is invest in a desensitization CD. For instance, if you want to get a new dog for your home, your cat will have to get used to facing it. So, to keep the cat calm in front of a new dog, invest in a CD with dog sounds. This way, you can have your cat listen to the sounds of a dog before actually meeting one at home.

Listening to these sounds will desensitize your cat to dog sounds, and it will be more unlikely to get scared when facing a real dog. There are other desensitization CDs available, such as those for baby sounds, fireworks, etc., which you can utilize to get your cat used to these sounds.

Have Litters Trays Inside

Another way to calm a scared cat is by putting a litter box inside your home. If your cat is scared by something outside the house, such as a neighbor’s dog or fireworks, it will not feel comfortable going outdoors to relieve itself. This is why you need to have a litter box inside the house to relieve your cat in such a situation.

This is a great way to calm a cat since a litter box is a familiar place, and your cat may want to go back to it every time it is scared. Whenever your cat is afraid of something outside, having a litter box indoors will prevent it from becoming anxious when it needs to defecate or urinate.

A kitten is sitting beside a litter box

Use a Pheromone Device

If you are thinking about calming the cat, one good solution is to use a pheromone device. Today, you can find devices that can be plugged into any switch in your home. These devices release the pheromone chemical, which will calm your cat over time once entering its system through the air around it. So, for instance, if you feel that your cat will be afraid of a friend coming to visit, plugin this device beforehand. Your cat will be calm, or at least its anxiety will be manageable before your friend arrives.

Make Up a Routine for Your Cat

One of the long-term solutions to calm your cat is to set up a routine for it. This routine should include regular meal times, a fixed time for exercise, a set time for playing, etc.

Now you may wonder how a routine helps to calm a scared cat? You will be surprised to know that cats are creatures of habit. They have very specific habits and mannerisms, and they like to have a predictable schedule without too many surprises.

This is why, if you set up a routine for your cat, it will develop its trust in you and know that you will not do anything out of the ordinary. Once your cat trusts you, it will not be scared of you and the things included in its routine (such as new toys, music, going to the park, etc.).

So if there is something you want your cat to get used to, such as a new toy or a new person in the household, have your cat interact with it as a part of its routine.

A cat is scared of taking a bath

Make Sure That Your Cat Has a Microchip

One of the long-term solutions to deal with fear amongst cats is to ensure that they are microchipped. This is because if your cat gets scared easily, it may run away from home. It can be a very distressing experience as a cat-owner since you do not want to lose your beloved pet. Get a microchip installed if you want to make sure that your scared cat does not get lost.

If your cat reaches some animal shelter or is found by a vet, they can scan the microchip and know its details through this method. This way, you can be reunited with your feline friend even if you run away from home while it is scared. This is why you should ensure that your cat has a microchip and that all of your pet’s latest details are on it.

Try to Contact a Behavioral Specialist

If you feel your feline friend is scared at every little thing, you may want to contact a vet or behavioral specialist. Just like human beings have anxiety problems, cats can have these problems too. If your cat is born with the condition that makes it a scared cat, getting in touch with an expert could help you address this issue in the long term.

The vet could suggest toys and exercises that reduce stress or recommend medication if he thinks it will make a difference. An important thing to remember is to never use anti-anxiety medicine for humans on cats. This is because these medicines are not animal tested and are not designed for your cat’s needs, and can cause severe side effects.

So while a vet may recommend some medication, trust us when we say that it will be specially designed for animals!

A scared kitten in a veterinarian's hands

Get Your Kitty To Socialize

One of the most long-term solutions for helping easily scared cats is to get them to socialize. This means to get them to interact with humans other than yourself and other animals. You could do this by walking them in the park once in a while or letting them out for a few hours. If you have friends with cats or other pets, get your feline friend to interact with them as well.

The best way to facilitate such interactions is by getting your cat to meet these other animals in a controlled setting. A controlled setting refers to a place where you are present, and at least one of the animals is behind a grill or on a leash so that if things get sour, you can rescue your cat from the meeting!

Once your cat gets used to interacting with other people and has a larger social circle, it will be less likely to get scared. This is because they are now used to seeing more animals around them, being comfortable in larger settings, and accustomed to seeing new faces. All of these will ensure your cat does not get scared out of its wits every time it meets a new person!


Humans do not like to be scared, and neither do cats! Staying afraid or anxious for prolonged periods can make your cat physically ill and irritable.

We hope that our guide helped you understand what scares cats and how you can help them navigate their fears. As a responsible cat owner, it is your responsibility to look after the mental well-being of your feline friend!

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