how to calm a scared cat

7 Ways To Calm Down A Scared Cat

Every cat is unique, so each can be frightened by different things. The way a cat responds to fear can also be different from one animal to the next. 

In today’s article, we’re showing you some tips on how to calm down a scared cat and also including some information on potential fear-inducing factors, how to make the difference between fear and aggression in cats, and more. 

1. Give The Cat The Power

Cats love to feel like they are in charge, so if you will forcefully try to dominate them, even in an attempt to calm them down, they might become aggressive.

Let your cat investigate the environment, retreat, or do anything that she wants, so long as it’s safe. 

2. Leave The Cat Alone

Giving your cat some space is the best way to handle such a moment. 

give your cat some space

As much as you might love your feline friend, sometimes leaving her alone can solve the problem much easier and faster than if you were to follow all her steps and try to calm her down continuously. 

3. Use Valerian

Valerian is often mistaken for catnip, but the two are usually paired in products such as powders, toys, and other accessories that most cats seem to love. 

Valerian for cats contains a substance called Actinidine, which acts like a pheromone and a calming cat product.

valerian for cats

However, some cats are not equipped with the gene that makes mixes of valerian root and catnip appealing, so it’s a matter of hit and miss.

It’s also worth noting that while some cats don’t have any reaction to catnip alone, they might love valerian. 

Some cats might even nibble on the valerian root. Vets recommend giving anxious cats up to ¼ of tsp a day.  

4. Use Cat Treats

Most cats that are frightened because they ended up in a strange environment or at the vet are not going to want to eat anything. 

But if your cat was a little scared by something in particular and you get her to partially calm down, giving her her favourite cat treat can help soothe her even more. 

5. Positive Reinforcement

Some cats become attached to their owners to the point that they memorise their voice and the tone they use when petting them, for example. 

Do not hesitate to talk to your cat in a calm manner if you know that she’s responsive to the sound of your voice.

Even if your cat broke something, do not raise your voice as that might make her even more scared. 

6. Be Prepared Ahead Of Time

If you know that your cat gets extremely anxious or scared when you take her to the vet, you can prepare before this happens. 

You can try clicker training to get your feline friend used to her carrier for several weeks before the scheduled visit to the vet clinic. 

get a good cat carrier for car use

Some cats hate seeing what’s happening around them when they’re in the carrier, so covering it with a towel or blanket can help, too.

While not all vet surgeries have cat-friendly waiting areas, you can talk to the veterinarian so that your appointment is not delayed and you spend as little time in the waiting room as possible — especially since it’s typically packed with other strange animals and people. 

7. Use An Anxiety Jacket

Besides valerian and catnip toys, another very useful product for handling stress and nervousness in cats is an anxiety jacket. 

Lap cats or those that use constant attention and affection as ways of soothing themselves might love to be hugged.

An anxiety jacket provides that gentle pressure that hug-loving cats need to feel at ease. 

How To Tell If A Cat Is Scared

Cats aren’t known for being particularly expressive, but there are some tell-tales that will let you know that they are feeling scared.

Frightened cats tend to hide or run away or just freeze in place.

Depending on how scared they are, they might also lose control of their bladder or bowels, release their anal glands, or refuse to use the litter box for a period of time.

In an attempt to soothe and protect themselves, many scared cats exhibit aggression. This can have several different manifestations, such as puffing their tails, flattening their ears, hissing, growling, scratching, or biting. 

The best way to handle aggression, especially if you know that your feline friend was scared by something is to step away and leave your pet to calm down on her own. 

What May Frighten A Cat?

There are many different factors that can scare a cat, from strange persons or animals to children. Stressful events, such as going to the vet, moving home, or a car ride, can also make your feline companion feel frightened. 

No cat will ever be herself in a strange and unknown environment. 

It is true that some might be more comfortable with change than others, but it’s generally acknowledged that cats are territorial, so they mark their living space, and they feel the best at home. 

scared looking cat in persons arms

Some fearful behaviours are completely normal, such as feeling insecure when they are moved to a different place. Most cats will hide behind the furniture for several days after being introduced to a brand new home. 

Cats that have recently gone through trauma, whether an accident, a trip to the vet, or a procedure such as an operation, will also tend to hide and avoid contact with people and their animal friends. 

If there is a factor in a cat’s living space that produces fear all the time, the cat has a high likelihood of being anxious every day. 

Constantly anxious cats are also more likely to end up showing aggression toward other animals and people. 

Also Read: How To Calm A Cat

Fear Reactions vs Aggression

While a scared cat can become aggressive, sometimes it can be difficult to make the difference between fear and downright aggression. 

Cats that are frightened will show the following signs:

  • Their eyes will not be dilated
  • They’ll have a relaxed fur
  • They’ll keep their head straight
  • They might hiss, spit, or growl, but not too much

Aggressive cats, on the other hand, will:

  • Howl, hiss, or growl almost continuously
  • Have dilated eyes
  • Keep their head cocked and their fur slightly raised (especially on their tail)
  • Their ears will be oriented towards the back of their bodies

How To Deal With An Anxious Cat

Nervous cats should be treated as if they were invisible. Constantly trying to soothe them by giving them too much attention can unnecessarily unnerve them. 

Be patient and wait for your kitten, if you’ve just brought her home, to get used to her new living environment. It takes time for a cat to become comfortable with new surroundings. 

Do not lose your temper, raise your voice, or force your cat to do anything if you see that she is scared. These behaviours will only lead to your cat being more scared and might make her have to become aggressive in an attempt to protect herself. 

Show your cat that you love her without suffocating her. As previously noted, positive reinforcement and treats can help, but also consider extracting your cat from the room where she feels uneasy or nervous. 

Anxious cats tend to be more at ease in higher places, where they can survey what’s happening below them. 

You can get a high scratching post, install a cat bed on top of your furniture, or set up a window perch where cats can also take a peek at what’s happening outside. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will a scared cat hide?

When being brought to a new living space, a cat can hide for a day or two.

The best answer to this question is that a scared cat will tend to hide for as long as she feels scared, whether that be an hour or two or up to several days. 

Why are cats scared of cucumbers?

If you’ve seen those videos on the Internet where pet owners place a cucumber behind their cats and they get frightened of it when they turn around, you might be wondering what the deal is.

The truth is that cats might not be scared of the cucumber itself, but they are not going to like the surprise.

picture of a cat looking at a cucumber

Cats love routine and places they already know, so a new thing like a cucumber behind them might make them feel alarmed. 

Another theory is that cats tend to be frightened by cucumbers because they look like snakes, but this statement has yet to be proven. 

What sound does a cat make when scared?

While some pets might meow and yowl, others will growl, spit, or hiss when they feel frightened.