Understanding Cat BehaviorCat behavior problems can be quite frustrating, but the first step to correcting them is actually understanding where your cat is coming from.First, we will show you how to read your cat's body language. There are some cats that are inherently timid and fearful. You must set the cat up for success. Sometimes having a full house to explore is too much for a cat, so you may need to temporarily... Take It Easy. Its estimated that cognitive declinereferred to as feline cognitive dysfunction, or FCDaffects more than 55% of cats aged 11 to 15 years and more than 80% of cats aged 16 to 20 years. Next, examine what factors may be reinforcing the behavior. If a cat is often a target of abuse, it is bound to express scared behavior. In 1944, Moelk published the first phonetic study of cat sounds. For the meat-aggressive cat, use only baby food as treats. Many cats react positively to calming synthetic pheromones like Feliway or Comfort Zone. Baby food has to be licked and it seems to work better with meat-aggressive cats. The Social Component of Fearful Behaviors in Cats “Fearful behaviors are common in cats,” says the ASPCA, “in part because most of us don’t socialize them as well as we do dogs, and we don’t expect them to be as active a part of our families.” A move to an unfamiliar environment (new home, being relinquished to shelter, being rehomed, etc.) Common fearful cat behavior that you can look out for is hiding, running away, shivering, and being too aggressive such as hissing, growling, spitting, biting, swatting, puffing fur and tail, scratching, arching back and flattening its ears. This can then advance to play sessions, catnip and treat times, and other times when the cats can “enjoy” themselves in each other’s company. Each time the cat escapes, the behavior has been reinforced. Because of this, cats adopted as strays or from shelters may not have had adequate early exposure to new and novel things. Back in 1997, MAR Network Director Kat Albrecht began to study the behavioral patterns of lost cats and dogs. If a cat is suddenly scared of everything, consider if anything in its life is different. Even experienced cat owners might find themselves perplexed by the behaviors of a new feline addition to their household if they have adopted a fearful cat. Designate a Kitty Room. All rights reserved. On the other hand, a cat may show signs of agitation or aggression, such as dilated pupils, arched back, pilo-erection (hair standing on end), and hissing. My name is Isabelle and I'm a proud cat mommy, cat blogger and amateur photographer. They will quickly learn when it's meal time if … Fear in cats is portrayed and handled differently. © Copyright 2018 by Isabelle Rousseau. Changes in Eating Behavior. There is no point in having the cat stay if it is clearly distressed. Understanding Cat Behavior: Anxiety, Fear, and Hyperactivity “There are many things that can stress out cats,” says Christine Calder, a certified veterinary behaviorist and the director of behavior services for Midcoast Humane. Many things can cause a cat to become fearful, such as: Lack of socialization as a kitten Being the target of aggression by other animals Pain and illness Being the target of abuse Stressful living conditions (too many cats, dirty conditions, tense family environment, etc.) The book describes in a fun and visual way the personality of our feline friends. Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your cat any type of medication for a behavior problem. Identify which simple changes you could make to prevent and alleviate their feline fears. This learning may then generalize to similar situations. Sorry, you have Javascript Disabled! Fears and anxieties can develop into phobias and nervous behavior can become excessive and irrational, resulting in a timid, aggressive or scared cat. cause the cat to stop using its litter box, Heavy Breathing Cat - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Guide To Birman Cat Personality and Characteristics, How Long Do Cats Live? The cat soon learns to expect rewards when placed in the cage and exposed to the stimulus. Some will recover quickly from the scary events while others will take longer. Cats are observers and very cautious by nature. Dogs wag their tails, run up to you for a hug, and bark boisterously. A cat’s behavior is also influenced by their upbringing and past experiences. Socialization is an important aspect of raising a kitten. Cats can also be trained to respond to basic commands in exchange for rewards (e.g., sit, come, give a paw). This gives the cat a choice, and it will feel relaxed to interact with you. Next, both cats could be fed while out of the cages at a distance, with one or both on halters, and then progress to having the cats side-by-side at feedings. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. Gradually the stimulus intensity is increased. Genetics plays a role in the development of fears; therefore select kittens that are non-fearful and sociable. When your cat is no longer showing fearful behaviors, slowly move the fear stimulus closer as you continue to treat, praise, or play with your cat. You can discuss possible drug therapies with your veterinarian. Because the socialization period in cats begins and ends earlier (generally between 3-9 weeks) than it does in dogs, the early environment of the kitten is most important. Fearful cats can be brought about by quite some factors. Often there are certain situations, people, and places that provoke the behavior more than others. Which person(s) or animal(s) is the cat afraid of and where does the fearful behavior occur? There are some fearful behaviors that are normal and acceptable. Be alert with changes in your cat’s behavior. … As they age, cats often suffer a decline in functioning, including their cognitive functioning. Some cats become so frightened they lose control of their bladder or bowels and eliminate right where they are. As a passionate pet enthusiast and long-time cat owner who has experienced the many aspects of what it means to care for cats I love to share my experiences with you. Eliminating outside the litter box can be a significant problem in cats. The behavior of frightened cats can also be expressed if the cat has gone through a traumatizing event such as hearing gun fire, loud fireworks or even a visit to the veterinary clinic. If at any time during this process your cat shows fearful behavior, you’ve proceeded too quickly and will need to start over from the beginning. You just brought home a new cat, and your old cat wants her dead. Wenn du die Website weiter nutzt, gehen wir von deinem Einverständnis aus. Distribute toys for the cat to play with in its solo time. Another thing to try is a little aromatherapy. For example, if a cat is punished or some disturbing event occurs in the presence of a particular person or other animal, the cat may begin to pair the stimulus (the person or other animal) with the unpleasant consequence (punishment or event). Combined, this is what indicates if your cat is scared or anxious in certain situations! When a cat’s behavior becomes too threatening to the people around it, it is important to seek help from a specialist. Due to a background in search-and-rescue (searching for lost people), Kat understood the critical connection between behavior and the distances that people travel when lost. The most recommended option for cats acting scared or anxious is the Feliway Diffuser (see on Amazon.com). Any ongoing interactions that provoke fear need to be identified and removed. For treatment to be most successful, it is important to be able to place the fearful stimuli along a gradient from low to high. The goal of this training is to allow the cat to assume a relaxed and happy body posture and facial expression in the presence of the stimulus. For example, a bad experience with a small child could result in being fearful of all small children. To be able to identify a frightened cat it is important first of all to know the behavior of frightened cats, and some of the factors that lead to fear, and how to help such cats. The complete guide to understanding the behavior and body language of your cat. Do this slowly. A behavioral consultation is needed for cats that are showing extreme fear and/or aggression. If this is a sudden change in demeanor, there will likely be a fear-based explanation. Next, the cat might eat and take rewards while out of the cage, wearing a leash and harness if necessary, initially going back to an increased distance to ensure success and safety. But how to understand your cat better? Identify those situations, people, places, and animals that are least likely, as well as most likely, to cause the fear. Memory, ability to learn, awareness, and sight and hearing perception can all deteriorate in cats affected with FCD. This is characterized by the cat’s inability to vocalize. To also ensure less distress in cats you can create clear pathways that it can use to reach its resources such as the litter box. Other signs of fearful cats are shaking, dilated pupils, panting, drooling, foot pad sweating and shedding of its hair. It is also often … By nature, they are more apt to hide or run when faced with something that frightens them. Extreme fear can be identified by certainly scared cat behaviors such as defecation and urination. Without adequate, continuous, and positive interactions with people and other animals, cats may develop fears and exhibit fearful behavior. If your cat is hiding or fleeing, then it has anxiety. Training Your Fearful Cat Signs and Symptoms of Fear and Anxiety in Your Cat. Everybody knows that cats are utterly adorable. Each time the cat experiences the stimulus and reacts with a fear response, the problem is likely to be further aggravated. This could be teasing behavior, painful interactions, punishment, or overwhelming stimuli. Cats will often hide when ill or in pain which may cause the cat to stop using its litter box. It made sense to Kat that the behavior of cats (and dogs) would also influence the distances that they travel. Respect Your Cat’s Space. If the cat seems even more aggressive about the meat, don’t use meat to work with the cat. Some owners reward the fearful behavior by reassuring their pets with vocal intonations or body contact, which leads the animal to assume that what they are doing at that moment is appropriate. Observe the body language of a fearful cat and get to know what it says. All cats are different and a scared cat will be frightened by different things, and each has its way of responding to fear. A cat may be successful at getting the fearful stimulus to leave by displaying aggressive behavior, thus reinforcing the behavior. Samantha points out that “There is no exact, scientific, foolproof way to tell if a cat is a shy cat or an outgoing cat who happens to be scared.” Shy cats are, by nature, scared of more things than their bolder counterparts. Over time the person can move closer at feeding times, until he or she can give the cat its food. Over time, the stimulus can be presented at a closer distance, or in a louder or more animated manner. When frightened, a cat may hide, try to appear smaller by rolling into a ball, or place its ears back on its head and be immobile. For example, cats kept in a cage for a few days in a boarding facility will often get used to the situation and settle down, provided there are no events that add to the fear. Disruption to routine makes a cat skittish. sounds produced when the mouth is first opened and then gradually closed (meowing, howling, yowling) sounds produced with the mouth held tensely open in the same position (growls, snarls, hisses, spits, chattering, and chirping). But a natural, quick fix to nervous or scared cat behavior is one you probably already have in your house: Catnip. If at any time the cat starts to become anxious or act like it wants to leave, the other cat should be moved farther away until the nervous cat relaxes. Conclusion. As they age, cats often suffer a decline in functioning, including their cognitive functioning. 5 Reasons for Cat Kneading, Turkish Van Cat Personality and Characteristics, Eliminate Cat Urine Odor - How to Get rid of Cat Urine Smell, Pregnant Cat: How to Tell if Your Cat is Pregnant, Sick Cat Symptoms: 7 Warning Signs for Sick Cats, Free Ebook: Understanding Cat Behavior and Body Language, The Cat Language Bible - Review and Insights, Cat Spraying: How to Deal with Cats Who Mark Their Territory, Ragdoll Cat Personality and Characteristics. This is not always easy and needs to be very exact. Sometimes a number of unpleasant events that were paired or associated with a person or animal can lead to increasing fear. For mild fears, cats may settle down with constant exposure to the stimulus (referred to as flooding) provided there are no consequences that aggravate the fear. So to help your scared cat be happy again, try following the tips and advice on these pages. Cats are notoriously hard to read. How to Comfort a Scared Cat Determine If Your Cat is Frightened. The person could then attempt to feed the cat favored treats through the bars of the cage. To see this page as it is meant to appear, please enable your Javascript! Cats can also be affected by poor nutrition or poor maternal care during fetal development or while kittens, which can negatively impact physical and emotional development. Although it might make you feel better, resist the urge to pick up or cuddle a frightened cat. Cats that are fearful of other cats in the home might be fed in two different cages in the same room. It can be hard to tell if your cat is keeping her distance because she’s … Stress in cats can also be brought about by medical conditions. “It won’t work long-term, but it can cause an increase in your cat’s psychological well-being,” Dr. Trimble says. Your cat may have encountered a predator and no longer feels safe. This can range from rolling on their back, showing different facial expressions, crouching, and just seeming more tense or aggressive. Training Your Fearful Cat to Be Confident Create a Calming Environment. Is It Better Than Dehydrated Dog Food. Cats are creatures of habit. If you see body language that doesn't appear normal for the personality of your cat, including the behaviors that we have already listed here, get them checked out. Cats can either get scared indoors or outdoors depending on where the scary event takes place which may lead to them entirely avoiding such a place. For most cats, a program of counter-conditioning and desensitization will be required to acclimatize the cat to the stimuli that causes the fearful response. Common fearful cat behavior that you can look out for is hiding, running away, shivering, and being too aggressive such as hissing, growling, spitting, biting, swatting, puffing fur and tail, scratching, arching back and flattening its ears. Aggression, defined as hostile or violent behavior intended to dominate or intimidate another individual, is a fairly common behavioral problem in cats. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. There are many reasons that cats can develop fear and anxiety. Genetics and the early environment are other important contributing factors to the development of fear. If the fears are mild, then owner intervention may help to prevent the fears from progressing. It is important to eliminate stressful behavior in cats to ensure that the cat is at ease. Cats … Drug therapy can also be useful to reduce fears and anxieties during times when the stimulus cannot be avoided. Some of the triggers of stressed behavior in cats are new environments, quick movements or loud noise, strange people or animals, or even an active child. Diese Website benutzt Cookies. Having a bad experience with a person can also make a cat fearful around people. Bell notes a few subtle differences in cat behavior to look for: Shy Cats Whether your cat is crouched or her ears are pulled back, we will tell you what that body language means. Medications can provide additional help in treating inappropriate elimination when the behavior is in response to stress or anxiety. Other potential causes of cat anxiety can include new or moved furniture, new pet or baby in the home, or even a new home. This will create a positive association with its environment. Before a behavior modification program can begin, you must be able to control your cat. Cat Lifespan Explained, Cat Toilet Training: How to Litter Box Train a Cat, Guide to Japanese Bobtail Cat Personality and Characteristics, Manx Cat Personality Traits and Characteristics, Why Do Cats Knead? Cats can also learn through the effect of even just one unpleasant experience that was intense or traumatic. Your cat might feel threatened. This deterioration can cause disturbances i… Joint pain in older cats can also be a source of anxious behaviors, such as hiding or failing to use the litter box. Since some evidence has indicated the father’s role in personality, assessing and observing the kitten’s parents, particularly the father, will give some insight into the personality that a kitten may develop when it grows up. Each cat has his/her preferred way of dealing with a crisis. Scared cat behavior will vary from one to another. This can be accomplished with a figure eight harness and leash or, if needed, a crate. On the other hand, any time the stimulus (e.g., other cat or person) threatens, retaliates, or displays fear toward the fearful cat, the fearful behavior has been aggravated. The aggressive behavior will only get worse and the cat will stop interacting positively with you. Here are some tips and advice on how to calm a cat who’s scared, stressed, or even just hyper. Sniffing your face: Cats rely heavily on their strong sense of smell to give them information about … These cats may never become outgoing and highly sociable. Cats should be given time to deal with and get over their stressful experiences for them to be able to go back to normal. The situation may then need to be changed to advance the training. Cats can develop a fear of people or other animals as a result of having only limited exposure to people and other animals when they were young. This may mean confining the cat when children visit, or when the house is full of strangers. Its causes in cats can be complex, both in terms of triggers and targets, making it challenging to find strategies to eliminate aggressive feline behavior. Interestingly, feral cats like to bury food they catch in the morning to eat later in the day, another tell-tale sign of feral-cat behavior. Causes of Fear and Anxiety in Cats. Start by exposing the cat to stimuli that are sufficiently mild that they do not evoke fear. Please login and assign a widget area to at least 2 of the 5 search widget columns. This can be achieved by interacting with the cat at its pace. Reward the cat for sitting quietly and calmly. Give incentives such as food treats for any positive behavior such as walking in the room. If the cat acts afraid during training, the stimuli are too intense and should be stopped. Early, frequent, and pleasant encounters with people of all ages and types can help prevent later fears. If it says do not approach then don’t or else it will go into hiding. Try to avoid the fear-producing stimulus if possible. There are many reasons that cats can develop fear and anxiety. The Fearful Cat When cats feel threatened, they usually respond in three ways to the object, person or situation they perceive as a threat: fight, flee or freeze. Cats that are handled frequently and regularly during the first few weeks of life are generally more exploratory, social, and outgoing. Save all favored rewards for these retraining sessions so that the cat is highly motivated to get the reward. If all this information on feral cats has made you consider going the route of “man’s best friend,” use this great course to avoid making impulsive decisions and plan for success. Once the cats will eat with the cages next to each other during feeding times, you could begin to keep one cat in the cage during feeding with one out, and alternate at future feedings. House Soiling. What Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food? First it is necessary to identify all of the stimuli that are making your cat fearful. It is important for a cat owner to closely study his or her cat to identify what causes it to express the behavior of the frightened cat. For example, if your cat is fearful of a particular person, you can begin with having the person sit beside the cage while your cat eats. Next, teach your cat to pair a non-fearful situation with food rewards. Relaxing is the key and is the first step in changing the fearful cat’s behavior. She watches you from afar. With the information above, it is now easier for cat owners to identify distressed symptoms in cats thus being in a position to help them get better. Cats are usually not aggressive animals. Scared cats can also be exhibited by the cat curling up its body, tucking its tail under its body, and holding its body and head low to the ground. Cats are different and a scared cat be happy again, try following the tips and advice on to. Frightened they lose control of their bladder or bowels and eliminate right they... 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Rewards for these retraining sessions so that the cat afraid of and where does the fearful stimulus to by. Back, we will tell you what that body language of your cat is crouched or her ears pulled! Of fear cat, use only baby food as treats the house is full of.. Will feel relaxed to interact with you may need to be identified and removed a specialist to! In having the cat afraid of and where does the fearful stimulus to leave by displaying aggressive behavior will from! See this page as it is bound to express scared behavior for them to be changed to the... Situations, people, and pleasant encounters with people of all small children may... And hearing perception can all deteriorate in cats go back to normal stressed, or overwhelming stimuli life are more... To hide or run when faced with something that frightens them these cats may develop fears and during. Of our feline friends for a behavior problem reduce fears and exhibit fearful behavior occur type of for... 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