Dealing With Anxious Cats

Cats can be very anxious for a variety of reasons. Read here how you can best deal with an anxious cat and get its fear under control.

Like people, cats have different personalities: some are more sensitive than others. However, when a cat is extremely anxious, there is often a reason.

For one thing, an already very anxious cat mother can pass this behavior on to the kittens. On the other hand, the wrong handling of humans with cats can cause lasting fears. Triggers can be, for example, violence towards the cat, grabbing it by the scruff of the neck, or another bad experience with a person. Especially in sensitive cats, even small things can trigger a lasting fear.

Cat is Afraid of the Vet

Many animals associate the vet with something negative. Be it the veterinarian’s somewhat rough handling of the cat (if this is the case, you should perhaps look for another veterinarian) or a painful treatment that was not possible in a gentler way: With cats, just such an experience can cause a permanent fear of the vet.

To take away your cat’s fear, you can try a kind of “desensitization”:

  • Start with harmless vet visits, i. H. sit in the waiting room for a moment and then drive home.
  • The smell alone won’t make the cat doubt where it is, so that’s plenty for starters.
  • Only when the cat manages the first step without fear is the next time the vet is allowed to say “hello”, the cat stays in the basket and you just open the door so that it can see it. If that also works without the cat pushing its huge eyes to the farthest corner of the basket, the cat comes to the treatment table on the next visit and is allowed to go home after a few “medical” strokes. Kind words from the vet can also prove to be very beneficial. Lots of praise and don’t forget a treat when you come home!

The Cat is Afraid When Driving a Car

Many cats are afraid of driving and will make pitiful noises while driving. You may already associate the drive with the vet, but the driving itself can also make you anxious, especially if the driver is a little rough.

Therefore, always drive carefully when transporting your cat. You should also make sure that the cat’s transport box is large enough and secured so that it cannot slip around or even fall over when braking or cornering. You can try putting a thin cloth over the carrier if your cat is very scared, as cats often feel safer in a dark den.

The Cat is Afraid of the Transport Box

Many cats connect the carrier to the vet and as a result, refuse to go inside or react with fear.

It is, therefore, best to introduce the transport box as a normal, everyday item for the cat, ideally as early as kitten age.

Make a cozy place to sleep out of the transport box and always put a treat in the box, especially at the beginning. If the cat calmly enters the box and stays in it, you can always close the box and carry the cat around in it – first only inside the apartment, then outside as well.

Always return the basket to its starting position afterward and don’t rush it if your cat is scared at first. Also, don’t forget to always praise your cat generously.

The Cat is Afraid of Strangers

The doorbell rings and the cat is already in the nearest hiding place – many cat owners are probably familiar with this scenario. In these cases, it is difficult to take the fear away from the cat. There’s no point in dragging her out of hiding and forcing her to join you, it’s stressful for the cat.

In such cases, you should accept the cat’s need for rest. Make it clear to your visitors that the cat does not want to be petted or disturbed. Perhaps you and your visitor can stay in a different room than where the cat is currently hiding.

If only a few people are visiting and the voices are not too loud, the cat may come out of hiding after a while. Cats often become more relaxed in old age and then no longer run away from each visit.

After the visitors have left and the cat dares to come out of its hiding place, you can return to “normality” with a game round.

How to Deal With Anxious Cats

Some cats are afraid of everything that can be feared, so to speak. What you need in such a case is patience. It takes some cats (a lot) of time to become more confident, less skittish, more courageous, and trust people. Even cats from animal shelters sometimes need several weeks or months to get used to them.

It’s a good idea to be cautious about introducing new things to particularly anxious cats, and just try to be as calming as possible. However, you should not constantly “run after her to comfort you”, but also accept it when the cat just wants to hide. Respect their fear and count on small gains. What she needs is a safe, stable environment.

However, if the cat has been traumatized, you should definitely seek professional help.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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