Cats have no fear: yes or no? Many cat owners often say “yes” because they always find their cats indifferent to their surroundings. In other words, cats don’t show clearly how they are feeling. That is why we often think that cats have no fear.
In fact, cats have the same fears as other animals. Every cat has different fears, and they show different expressions.
Shy cats tend to shy away from their fears. They can run away immediately. In contrast, confident cats are less likely to fear. They also often recover more quickly from dreadful events in their lives.
First, let’s try to define fear in cats.
Fear in cats is a form of the emotional state of repulsion and apprehension in the vicinity of a real or presumed danger. Fear is a normal response of the organism that has an adaptive meaning in the evolution of species and is fundamental for the survival of the individual himself.
Each cat is different. Therefore, each of them can get scared of different things and react differently. A shy cat may be afraid of many things and spend much of their life hiding, while a self-confident cat will be less fearful and will usually recover more quickly from new and stressful events.
Some cat fear behaviours are acceptable and normal
For example, most cats will feel insecure or frightened in a new environment. This is entirely normal and it also often happens that the cat hides for a day or two when introduced to a new home.
The hated veterinarian
Sometimes a traumatic experience – such as taking him to the vet or bringing a new animal into the house – can disturb his routine and cause him to hide under the bed for a few days.
This case is also usual. But some cats are so frightened that they appear to be living in a state of almost constant anxiety, or they can redirect their fear into aggression towards people or other pets.
Stimuli perceived as threats by the cat
As per definition, the cat can be afraid of some stimuli that they assume as threats towards them. But it all depends on how the cat sees them.
For example, if we want to approach a frightened kitten to save him from the street or danger, we want to do him good and not harm, but he, on the other hand, may perceive us and our movements as a threat and be afraid.
Cat survival mechanism
This is a part of a survival mechanism designed to protect itself from various predators because the cat in nature is a predator, but also prey.
For example, if your cat hears a loud and/or unexpected noise, it may immediately run away to try and hide. Usually, this will be a dark or otherwise very hidden place and in any case, deemed safe.
Unfortunately, it could also be a place that is difficult to access or where it is difficult even to get out. This is one of the reasons many cats get stuck in trees. They become scared, they run up the tree and, therefore, being too high, they can no longer go down.
Several studies have indicated that cats that receive care frequently and regularly during the first few weeks of life are typically more exploratory and more social.
Without adequate, continuous and positive interactions with people, other animals and new situations, cats can, however, develop fears. Since the socialization period in cats begins and ends earlier (usually between 3 and 9 weeks) than in dogs, the initial environment of the kitten is essential.
The cat is afraid of the unknown
If the cat is too afraid or shy, it is possible, therefore, that it has had insufficient socialization. This occurrence leads to fear of the unknown and a lack of trust, especially when there are new people or animals in the house.
Also, it is essential to rule out possible pathological causes that can lead to this behaviour. In any case of excessive fear in cats, it is crucial to find the root of the problem. This must be examined with the help of the veterinarian.
Some useful solutions
The game for the cat: A real therapy
Use a stick toy to encourage him to play. This game keeps a distance between the cat and us so that he can stay in his safe area, for example, under the bed or behind a chair or furniture without having to expose himself. The movement we make shouldn’t be frantic or exaggerated. A fearful cat might see this as a threat.
Noises to a minimum
We avoid noises, screams, children or other animals running around the house, loud music etc.… They are very stressful for him! A fearful or naturally shy cat is not suitable for too noisy environments.
The cat loves safe places.
A fearful cat feels safer if he thinks he is in his stealthy mode. There should be hiding places set up for him in all the rooms he frequents. If we want to encourage him to venture from under the bed, we need to create safe alternatives.
We create safe pathways to resources such as litter boxes, scratching posts and bowls. Let’s not force a cat to have to move in too open spaces that make him vulnerable and, therefore, considered dangerous. The chances are that if he doesn’t feel safe, we’ll never see him during the day, as he’ll only go to eat or use the litter box in the middle of the night.
We place the resources so that the cat does not have to cross the house to reach them
Maybe in several places. Tunnels along the path are okay so that the cat remains partially hidden. We also set up posts at the top where you can safely observe what is happening in the area and become familiar with the daily routine, the voices and noises.
Lots of prizes for the cat
We keep treats in mouthwatering snacks close at hand, and every time the cat takes even the smallest positive step, we reward it.
If the feline does not take the prize from our hand, let us gently throw it next to him. If the treatment consists of wet food, let’s put some on a long spoon to create a distance between the cat and us.
Rewarding Kitty with positive reinforcement will not only help him calm down but will also reassure him for future events. In many cases, we will also need a lot of patience.