Pet owners know their furry friends can anticipate approaching weather and often act in bizarre ways, yet they might wonder, “why are cats not afraid of thunder?”
People usually apply the stereotype to dogs more than cats. There are many bonuses to cat ownership.
The calm, low-maintenance companionship a cat provides is unmatched, not to mention their sweet faces and peaceful purrs.
But is a lack of fear of thunderstorms something else that makes cats the better pet?
The idea that cats are not afraid of thunder is a myth. Cats may express their thunderstorm anxiety in different, more subtle ways than dogs.
Signs of anxiety in cats vary widely. Each cat is an individual, so different felines may experience anxiety in diverse situations.
Whether you notice these signals during a thunderstorm, a trip to the vet, or when you have guests, the main cause may be anxiety.
Anxiety comes from fear and preparation for a threat. There are different levels of anxiety in cats, from mild symptoms to more severe cases.
Mild cat anxiety is commonplace and may look like a cat avoiding or evading eye contact or flicking its tail restlessly.
More moderate signs of anxiety in cats look like a slight escalation in typical cat behavior.
Some of these symptoms may include increased respiration or panting, maintaining unflinching eye contact with the threat, or the flattening of the cat’s ears and body toward the floor.
Severe anxiety in cats may present as aggression, hair standing up or even a feline frozen in place.
These symptoms interrupt or prevent normal cat behavior. Anxiety is a part of your cat’s life, but prolonged periods of anxiety can negatively impact your cat.
Dangerous levels of anxiety for your cat can look like a cat that stops eating or frequently paces.
Prolonged stress can reduce your cat’s lifespan.
Cats who constantly hide or groom themselves excessively may need assistance with conquering their unhealthy levels of apprehension.
A little empathy can help owners understand the anxiety their cat is facing.
Similar to humans, cats often develop anxiety because of trauma experienced in early life.
Kittens who experienced physical harm were neglected or sick early in life or had other rough periods of survival may carry trauma.
If you adopted your kitten or cat from a shelter, be sure to ask if the cat was a stray before you rescued them. This insight can be useful to identify anxiety.
If your cat has anxiety, the age range of one to three years old is a crucial time.
If unchecked, cat anxiety can escalate during this period of cat adolescence.
If you think your cat may be experiencing harmful anxiety, it is essential to get support from them through your veterinarian.
Note: Cat anxiety often first appears when a kitten is between five months to one year and worsens over time if untreated.
What is Particular is Scary about a Thunderstorm?
Why are cats afraid of thunderstorms?
Remember, cats and dogs have heightened senses, which include a far superior ability of hearing than our own.
A thunderstorm is frighteningly loud and unpredictable.
If you are thinking of becoming a pet parent, keep in mind that the response to thunderstorms will vary widely from animal to animal.
Some cats and dogs do not react to thunder or other loud and scary noises like fireworks.
If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, there are special considerations when preparing for a thunderstorm.
Anxious cats in particular must receive special attention when a cold front starts to come through.
Some scientists believe pets can sense the rapid changes in air pressure much better than their owners.
Therefore, our cats and dogs may start to act strange hours before the first raindrops fall.
Because of the heightened feline senses, owners of anxious cats must prepare well in advance for a thunderstorm.
Keep them indoors and safe for several hours before a weather channel predicts a storm.
It will be difficult to corral an anxious cat left outdoors directly before or during bad weather.
Tip: If your cat is displaying irregular behavior, check your area’s weather forecast before presuming medical conditions.
Now that your cat is indoors and safe, you can turn your attention to providing a comforting environment inside your home.
Helping your cat during a thunderstorm is easier than you may think and boils down to two principles: trust their instincts and provide dens in advance.
Because every cat has such a variable personality, the way their anxiety presents during a thunderstorm will differ.
Only you know your cat.
The best advice is to trust their instincts to seek out a comforting environment and believe in your instincts to care for your cat.
Give Them Extra Attention
If your cat comes up to you and wants attention, go ahead and give it to them. Maybe your cat prefers to hide in a dark, quiet space.
That is also a normal response for a cat. Give them time and be patient until they feel safe enough to emerge.
Common advice suggests cat owners should not endorse or reward anxious behavior by petting or giving attention to an anxious cat.
However, evolving knowledge argues the above advice to simply trust the cat’s instincts to know how to comfort itself.
Create a Safe Den
If your cat is the den-loving type, be sure to organize those in advance.
Make sure their regular haunts, like cat beds or furniture spots, are clear and welcoming.
If you can keep the lights off in the room where they like to sleep, that may also promote feelings of security.
During a thunderstorm, your cat may also find new and innovative places to hide while in an anxious state.
You can help by putting a favorite toy or another comfort item in a dark, covered space away from windows.
Tip: Place your cat’s den in a spot that would muffle the sound of the thunder outside.
The above examples show basic steps you can take to soothe your anxious cat.
You can also invest in new technology to help reduce anxiety for your kitty. Several products exist to provide additional support for fearful felines.
Similar to the product available for dogs, the ThunderShirt also offers an item for thunderstorm-averse cats.
The ThunderShirt is a dog or cat weighted vest that helps reduce anxiety by easing sensory overstimulation.
The shirt is like a weighted blanket for humans.
As more pet owners lavish their beloved dogs and cats, supplements and oils are popping up to soothe pet anxiety.
Products like pheromone compounds, herbal remedies, and CBD options claim to provide a safe, gentle, calming effect on your pets.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate pet supplements.
The lack of federal oversight means these products lack thorough safety standards.
Tip: Consult with your veterinarian before experimenting with any of these anti-anxiety remedies.
The question of “why are cats not afraid of thunder” is inaccurate because, like dogs, some cats experience anxiety with incoming storms while some could not care less.
For cat owners whose beloved kitties do experience thunderstorm anxiety, there are simple ways to help them.
The most vital way to help an anxious cat is to move them inside well before a storm rolls in. Preparation is key for anxious cats!
Once they are inside, observe the feline to see what type of comfort it is looking for. Some anxious cats will hide, while others will want lots of attention.
Cat owners can all agree — your cat knows what it wants.
The best way to provide support for your anxious cat is to be there for them through a thunderstorm in the way they choose.