8 Common Cat Fears and Anxieties
By Maura McAndrew
There’s a reason the term is “scaredy-cat” and not “scaredy-dog”: cats are sensitive creatures, the pets we most tend to associate with timidity. But it’s important to recognize that fear and anxiety are not natural cat traits, but serious feelings with causes that need to be investigated.
According to Ingrid Johnson, a Georgia-based certified cat behavioral consultant at Fundamentally Feline, fear and anxiety can be at the root of what we consider timid cat behavior. “A confident cat is going to walk right through the center of the room, their tail held high, and act like they own the place,” she says, while a more fearful cat may “slink on the perimeters of the space.” And cats’ behavior will depend on whether they’re experiencing acute or chronic stress, explains Dr. Jill Goldman, a California-based certified applied animal behaviorist. Acute stress is “an event that happens and stops,” she says, while chronic stress “is something that’s ongoing that the cat has to deal with on a long-term basis.” Acute stress may cause the most obvious fearful reactions, like recoiling, an arched back, piloerection (raised hair), aggression, running away or hiding. Chronic stress, on the other hand, can result in behaviors like “house-soiling,” litter box issues, or “over-grooming,” she notes.
While these behaviors will vary from cat to cat, if you suspect your feline companion is suffering from fear, anxiety, or stress, you’ll want to get to the bottom of it ASAP. To help, we’ve compiled a list of common cat fears and anxieties.