Your cat is scared , he’s scared of you, he’s hiding . You want to understand and take care of your cat.
A frightened cat can be afraid of many things and spend much of its life in hiding, while a confident cat will usually recover more quickly from situations that cause fear or stress.
For example, a cat may face a strange dog by growling, spitting, or puffing out its fur to appear larger. Or you may decide to hastily withdraw. Some cats are so overwhelmed with fear that they become paralyzed, too terrified to run. A relaxed cat, may not see danger in the dog, can smell the dog and walk away.
Why are there cats that are afraid of everything?
A shy or fearful behavior is very often caused by negative associations had in the first years of his life. If a cat did not interact with people often or suffered abuse or trauma, it is very likely that he or she may be afraid of people.
In other cases, there are cats that are fearful because they are genetically predisposed to higher levels of arousal and it will take them longer to calm down and trust new environments and people (perhaps they never will).
Here are some of the most common reasons why cats show fearful behavior, but remember: there may be several reasons why your cat is afraid or none of these are.
1. Your cat has a former owner
You were very excited to have a new furry friend in your house, but to your surprise, he is terrified in his new surroundings. A few days or weeks later, it shows little sign of calming down. Have you not considered that your new cat has an old owner who has lost it? Check and vet to see if it has a microchip that can identify it.
2. Your cat has never lived with humans
Imagine that you purchased your cat from a shelter or a pet store. Surely she had little experience of living with people on a daily basis, so it can be difficult for her to get used to a home with you. It takes a lot of patience and consistency for your cat to be confident in this situation (but it is possible!).
3. Your feline does not like other animals or children
Some cats do not get along with other cats, dogs, or young children . Observe the fights that your shy cat may have had with other pets, and teach children to be careful with the cat. It may be necessary to demarcate a kitten area away from children’s play areas, so that you can supervise children’s interactions with their new skittish kitty.
4. Your pet is poorly socialized
While every cat is different, it is considered proven that cats need positive human interaction within the first two months of life to feel comfortable living with an owner. Beyond that, regularly introducing new people can prevent them from becoming overly shy or scared when they meet a new person.
5. Your cat is sick
Cats often hide when they are sick or injured , while they recover. If your cat is generally friendly but suddenly starts to hide, see the vet.
6. Your cat has been abused or beaten
Unfortunately, once a cat has been abused by a human, it is likely to fear people . In this situation, it is normal for your cat to decide to hide from certain triggers, or experiences that remind him of a negative or abusive incident.
How do you know if your cat is afraid?
Your cat may show the following behaviors when he is afraid:
- Run away from you and people.
- It is hidden.
- Shows aggressiveness (including spitting, whistling, growling, hitting, biting, scratching, puffing out the fur and tail, arching back, wagging the tail, and flattening the ears).
- He does not want to move from one place.
- You lose bladder / bowel control.
- Refuses to use the litter box.
¿ What fearful behavior is normal?
Some fearful behaviors are acceptable and normal. For example, most cats will feel insecure or scared in a new environment. Often your cat will hide in its new home for a day or two.
Sometimes a traumatic experience, such as taking him to the vet or bringing a new animal into the home , can disrupt his routine and lead to strange behaviors such as hiding under the bed for a few days.
But sometimes some cats are so scared that they seem to live in an almost constant state of anxiety, or they can transform their fear into aggression towards people or other pets .
How can you help your scared cat?
If your cat hides but is healthy, leave him alone, he will come out whenever he wants. Forcing him out of hiding will only make him more fearful. Make sure they have easy access to food, water, and a litter box. Clean the litter box, change the food and water every day to see if he is eating and drinking.
Food is a great motivator for cats, so if yours is afraid of someone in the house, entrust that person to feed them.
What can you do if your cat is aggressive?
When aggression is not an isolated event and threatens people or pets, you should seek help as soon as possible from a specialist in cat behavior.
To control the situation, it would be advisable that you isolate the cat in an area of the house where you can have it controlled and try to have a responsible person supervise it.
In case your cat causes bites and scratches; remember that these can easily become infected.
Tips to reassure a scared cat
- Create a separate room for your cat. Since your cat is experiencing stress, at first you should keep him alone in a room to leave him quiet, when necessary.
- Check the hidden places in the room. The cat should feel safe, but not isolated. If you stay under the bed all day, staring at the wall in the dark, it’s not good. So there are two things to take care of: Reduce and make hiding places inaccessible, such as in the closet, under the bed and behind the sofa; second, you need to create locations where your cat can hide, but you can observe what is happening. For example, cat tree platforms, cardboard boxes with cutouts on some of the sides, cat tunnels, houses, and the like.
- Don’t force the cat to pay attention to you. Since they are afraid, you should keep your distance and respect their privacy. Do maintenance as needed like cleaning the litter box, replacing the water, and pouring out the food and leaving it alone. Cats are most comfortable controlling their environment and interactions, so keep that in mind every time you approach your cat. When he’s hiding, encourage him to come to you, and until he does, pet and interact with him.
- Spend time in your cat’s room. Since you are the one feeding the cat, he can begin to accept your presence. However, you should still do it in a non-disruptive way, like sitting down and reading the newspaper. At first, do short sessions, but several throughout the day.
- A los gatos no les gustan los ruidos fuertes, evítalos en la medida de lo posible. Si vas a utilizar la aspiradora, hacer obras en la casa u organizar una fiesta, coloca a tu gato en un habitación silenciosa y segura de tu hogar.
- Al interactuar con tu gato tímido, sé tranquilo, cariñoso y amable. Habla suavemente, muévete despacio y no lo mires fijamente, porque lo puede percibir como una amenaza. Siempre que sea posible, ponte en su nivel para interactuar con él.
- Alimenta al gato en tu presencia. En algún momento, cuando notes que el gato va a comer poco, puedes tratar de no salir de la habitación. Siéntate en un rincón distante y observa lo que está sucediendo. En la próxima ocasión trata de sentarte un poco más cerca del tazón.
- Talk to your cat. When he’s comfortable with your presence, talk to him. Yes, yes, as if you were talking to a person, but do so in an informal tone and voice. Call him, tell him that everything is going to be fine and that you are going to take care of him.
- Cats are animals of daily routine. Those routines that will provide security will be: feed and interact with your cat on a fixed schedule, collect and clean its litter box at least once a day. Taking care of your basic needs on a regular schedule will help you feel more comfortable and gain confidence.
- Si tu gato está motivado por el juego, trata de establecer sesiones de juego con la mayor frecuencia posible. Usa juguetes que fomenten su instinto natural de acechar a sus presas y así sacarás al “cazador interior” en tu gato tímido, con esto lograrás reforzar su confianza. Para mejorar la comunicación con tu gato, aprende a interpretar su lenguaje corporal, expresiones faciales y vocalizaciones.
- Recuerda que con ungato con miedo, el tiempo y la paciencia son tus mayores aliados. Sigue el proceso de socialización dando pequeños pasos, y repítelos tantas veces como sea necesario hasta que tu gato se sienta cómodo.
Provide plenty of perches, cat trees, shelves, or cat beds placed on top of furniture. Your cat can be more confident watching visitors from a high place.
Spraying Feliway, a soothing product for cats, inside your home before visitors arrive, this will help reduce their nervousness.
Never forget that cats like people progress at different rates. Don’t be discouraged if you often feel like you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. Every positive interaction your cat has with a human will be a step in the right direction.
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