Recognize a fearful cat
If you know a minimum of the body language of cats , you can easily identify cowardly cats: they walk bent over, with disheveled hair, thus appearing neglected.
When other cats show an interest in new objects, unfamiliar people or other felines, the cowardly cat withdraws. Anxious cats do not play with their fellow cats or with the humans around them.
In fearful cats, we rarely observe a straightening of the tail as a friendly sign. Their tail generally remains lowered, pulled back between the hind legs, and sometimes even appears tousled, as in anxiety-provoking situations. The coat does not look shaggy only during the peaks of anxiety of the stressed cat: owners of fearful cats can sometimes notice areas of the coat bald of hair, because the cat licks itself too often. This then reflects anxious behavior! Aggression can be a sign of anxiety, just as much as lethargy!
What does my cowardly cat fear?
By his breed, his education, his socialization, his entourage and the place he occupies in your family, you will be able to more easily determine if your cat is a sensitive little one or if his aggressive character is expressed because he is daredevil. Just like humans, each cat has its own character. Some felines already place great trust in their master from a very young age and thus track him throughout the house. Others, more timid, build a relationship of trust very slowly. In some cases, this relationship of trust never sees the light of day. The reasons are very varied.
Cats are always guided by their instincts. Unusual situations like a shrill ringing, a visit to the vet, or the absence of their owner can put cats in a situation of deep insecurity and trigger stress for the cat. It is not always easy to determine why a cat is particularly reticent towards humans, why it reacts in an anxious way in certain situations or why it expresses a phobia towards certain objects or towards other living beings. The better you know your cowardly cat, its living conditions and the way it was raised, the easier it will be for you to identify the causes of its anxiety.
Cats that grew up without human contact
A cat’s character as well as its behavior towards humans is primarily determined by the mother. During its first twelve weeks of life, the kitten learns essentials from mother and litter siblings. It also includes the attitude to adopt towards humans and other animals.
Usually, kittens raised by mothers who are reluctant towards humans develop the same fears. The mother is a real model for the kittens. Shy mothers often keep their kittens away from humans. Kittens who are born outside of the family home or in the great outdoors have a harder time building trust than cats who have had regular contact with their human family.
However, it is not impossible to befriend a cowardly cat with a wild character! Start slow and show your fearful cat that you deserve to be interested in you. Do not lock your cat up, but give him the possibility to go away if he wishes or to hide in a tunnel or a small house . Give him the opportunity to come to you spontaneously.
Anxious cats who have had bad experiences
Here, it is not only a question of the childhood of the kittens. Kittens who have grown up surrounded by humans and have had regular contact with them can also lose the trust they have gained, or even never create a relationship of trust. Bad experiences and traumas are the main cause of cat anxiety. Cats who have been physically or mentally brutalized find it difficult to recover. However, by investing time and energy, you can get a fearful cat used to social life. The success of your attempts will depend on your cat’s character and past experiences.
Keep in mind that in any direct contact situation, you must allow your stressed cat to go away. If the feline feels trapped, it will only increase his stress and he will have one more reason to fear you. Start gently and carefully. Do not be discouraged if one day you manage to take a step forward towards your goals and the next day you take two steps back.
Cat stress in specific situations
Sometimes the cat’s anxiety is linked to certain situations, certain specific objects or even certain people. Here too, this phenomenon is explained by the bad experiences, traumas or shocks that the stressed cat may have undergone during his life, which marked him physically or mentally.
It is no wonder that cats are reluctant to enter their transport cage . They associate this plastic box with long vacation trips or visits to the vet. Targeted exercises can help your cowardly cat to let go of the frightening image he has of this object and finally associate a positive feeling with it. In this kind of situation, specific training can work real miracles! As often,cat treats play an important role. Perhaps you have already made your cat do a clicker training . Congratulate your four-legged friend with a “click” as soon as he approaches the carrier.
If your cat becomes fearful
Sometimes quiet cats suddenly become anxious. However, we must differentiate between phobia, which manifests itself in the presence of certain objects such as plastic bags or dogs, and a permanent state of anxiety, which is expressed by constant stress on the cat. What’s going on ? If your loving cat suddenly no longer shows interest in people, petting and kissing games , its tail is pulled down and stuck, it may have even stopped feeding or is showing unusually aggressive behavior, you should look to the trauma or stress trail.
Psychological reasons can also be the cause of sudden cat anxiety here. In this case, consult the veterinarian, so that he can diagnose possible chronic pain or other health problems .
If your cat does not have any health problems, then consider mental health issues such as stress or trauma. Is your cat’s anxiety caused by outside changes? Has your cat experienced a significant event, such as a move or an accident? Has a new family member arrived? Is your cat not very social? The does living with other companions make him feel a certain insecurity? If you have several cats, do they each have a litter box or toilet house and enough bowls ? Your fearful cat may be feeling threatened by other cats and the social stress he feels has turned into real fear.
How to help your fearful cat?
As you have seen, the causes of anxiety disorders in cats are varied. As the master of your feline, you know it better than anyone. Perhaps after reading this article, things are already clearer for you. You may have recognized your cat’s behavior in one of the descriptions. However, if the behavior of your cowardly cat remains a mystery to you, don’t give up!
Contact a specialist who can help you. The animal behaviorists have an experienced eye on the behavior of cats. You are the person who knows your cat the best, so you are better able to identify changes in their behavior. But calling on a specialist for a second opinion often works wonders!
Even when you’ve figured out the cause (s) of your cat’s anxiety, getting rid of them is far from easy. However, it is not impossible! Act with caution in all situations: shock therapy won’t help you or your cat. Give your little feline time, and don’t put pressure on him. Celebrate every step taken as a true success.
An environment conducive to the well-being of the fearful cat
If you have been able to identify the trigger for your cat’s anxiety, it is important to make it disappear from her daily life. However, this is not always feasible. Then try to find alternatives and best meet the needs of your cat. For example, an apartment fitted out for a cat should offer various cozy beds and include one or more scratching posts or cat trees .
The location of your cat’s litter box is not to be neglected! It should be in a quiet location, allowing your feline to defecate undisturbed. The same goes for the location of your pet’s food bowl. A diffuser or spray with the brand’s pheromones Feliway or Felisept can be used to soothe your cat. The effectiveness of these products is based on the “feel good hormone”, with which the cat marks the objects it brushes against. In general, cats are more relaxed after a few weeks of using this type of product. The relaxing effects of these sprays and diffusers are visible on some cats in the short term, while others will need these pheromones throughout their lives in order to improve their level of well-being.
Pay close attention to your fearful cat, especially when the causes of his anxiety are related to a feeling of jealousy, which appeared after the arrival of a new partner in your love life or after the birth of a child. Strengthen your bond with your cat by stroking it, playing with him and making him happy from time to time with treats .
We wish you very good moments of sharing, to you and to your cat!
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