9 Things Cats are Afraid of (Surprisingly)
Cats, the internet's favorite animal, are one of the most popular pets in the United States. In fact, in 2017, Americans owned over 95 million cats, up from 73 million in the year 2000. We're officially obsessed.
Our obsession with cats has led to some pretty humorous internet content, from Grumpy Cat to videos of cat owners terrifying their cats with cucumbers. Which begs the question, why are cats afraid of cucumbers? And what are cats scared of?
As it turns out, there are more than a couple of things they're scared of. Read on to get the scoop!
9 Things Cats Fear and Hate
What are Cats Scared Of? New People!
Your co-worker swears she has two cats. In fact, they're her computer wallpaper, and she has framed photos of them at her desk. But when you head to her house for game night, they're nowhere to be found!
She's not lying about her cats; they're just hiding from you. Many cats are fearful of new people in their home. Once someone new enters the house, they hide under beds and furniture and don't come out until they leave.
This behavior is not due to cats' aloof nature; rather it's because they were not properly socialized as kittens. It's common knowledge in the dog world that you should socialize your puppies at a young age to make sure they are comfortable in a wide variety of situations, but it's equally as important for cats!
Cats should be socialized with a variety of different people in their home when they are kittens, ideally by 11 or 12 weeks old. Don't stress if you missed that stage; it just means your cats will take a bit longer to get used to strangers.
Tell your guests not to hold, pet, restrain, or cuddle your cat if the cat does not know them. In other words, let the cat come to them in its own time and on its own terms. Once the cat is on your guest's lap and purring, then they can pet them.
Loud Noises Terrifies Cats
Cats, like dogs, and some humans, have fear reactions when exposed to sudden, loud, or strange noises. Of course, this fear is worse in some cats than others.
Fear of loud or strange noises also has to do with how the kitten was raised. If the cat isn't exposed to a variety of different sounds as a kitten, it is more likely that they'll have fear reactions to new loud or strange sounds as an adult cat. Sudden noises tend to cause the biggest fear reaction.
This fear can also relate to the fear of new people when they associate the sound of the doorbell or knocking with scary new people coming in.
If you've missed the kitten stage, try and acclimate them slowly to these noises, and provide a reward whenever the sound is heard, so they associate the noise with a positive experience. Slamming the door? Tuna time!
Punish a Cat, and They'll Fear You
Punishment is a sad reality for many cats. When a cat has a bad habit or behavior, many owners turn to discipline to stop the behavior. If the punishment is severe, the stress and anxiety can cause the cat to become fearful of both the action and the person.
In many cases, the stress from punishment can actually cause the undesired behavior to get worse, and it can cause new bad behaviors to crop up.
There are a few ways to tell if your cat has become fearful of you because of punishment. Look for behavioral changes. If your cat no longer sits on your lap and asks for cuddles, then that's a good sign that something has changed. Cats also use their tail to tell you how they're feeling, and a tail between the legs is a strong sign that they are scared.
Some Felines Fear the Vet
For some cats, the vet is another form of punishment. Or it seems like it anyway. It can involve all the previous stressors in one short time frame!
Your cat was just peacefully snoozing the day away before you came up and shoved him in some box, and took him to a place full of strange sounds and strange people, where he will be poked and prodded, and oh my goodness was that another cat wailing in the other room?!
Long before taking your cat to the vet, acclimate them to getting in and out of a cat carrier to make the trip a whole lot less stressful for them. Make getting in the carrier a rewarding experience.
Then make the car ride a rewarding experience. Start with short distances, drive as smoothly as possible, and avoid loud music. The less stressed they are going into the vet's office, the less stressful the overall experience will be.
New Home May Terrify a Cat
Moving to a new home is rough. As if driving a long distance (or short distance) wasn't bad enough, at the end of the trip your cat has to adjust to a new place full of strange smells. Sometimes that new home even has new people to which they will have to adjust.
When choosing your new home, look for a place that is going to be comfortable for your feline family members, too! Don't move next to the train tracks so your cat won't have to be frightened by the horn whenever it passes by.
When you're packing, save your cat's stuff for last so they have some familiarity in what is quickly becoming a home full of boxes, none of which they're allowed to play in. Once you're in the new home, unpack their stuff first so they can feel that same familiarity.
Don't forget to keep up your normal routine as much as possible!
Cats are Scared of New Pets
You would think that, of all the possible things in the world to be scared of, other cats would not be one of them. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. In fact, introducing your cat to a new pet can be hugely stressful.
The key to introducing a new pet in your home without stressing out your cat too much is to do it gradually. First, allow your cat to smell them; place a blanket on which the new pet was laying next to your cat. Then allow them to see each other, but keep them separated. Finally, let them to be in the same room together, but remove the new animal if it gets too stressful for your cat.
A nice gradual introduction will go a long way for you and your cats' happiness!
Are Cats Scared of Water?
No, felines are not aquaphobic. In fact, they are very skilled swimmers. It's not fear, but more of the dislikeness of being around water. So, why do cats hate water? The explanation is, cats get irritated when wet. It's hard for them to dry off and it weighs them down completely.
Cats Don't Like Sudden Movements
Remember that one time your cat was sitting next to you on the couch but jumped about five feet into the air when a book fell off the bookshelf? It probably startled you, too. If your cat seems easily freaked out by sudden movements, don't stress too much, it's a perfectly natural reaction for any animal, including humans!
In fact, that jumpiness is a survival mechanism that cats use to avoid predators. However, in some cats it can be more exaggerated. This may be the result of a lack of exposure to certain things when the cat was young, or it may be the result of trauma.
If your cat jumps and bolts due to a sudden movement, just let them go and don't try to restrain them. Your cat must feel like your home has a safe space for her to go when she is scared.
Are Cats Scared of Cucumbers?
Videos of people startling their cats with cucumbers inspired all of us to see just what happens when you place a cucumber behind an unsuspecting cat. But are cats scared of cucumbers? Why?
The truth is, cats aren't especially scared of cucumbers. It's possible that cats think the cucumber is actually a snake. As it turns out, cats are hardwired to fear snakes.
For Cats, Cucumbers & Bananas are a Snake
When your cat turns around and sees the cucumber or any object with the same shape such as a banana, they think its a snake, and their reaction is one of fear, trying to get away before the snake hurts them. In fact, jumping in the air is meant to prevent snakes from biting them, which is why nearly every cat versus cucumber video shows a cat leaping sky high before taking off.
Cucumbers are not the only object that can scare a cat in this manner. Any snake-like object will do, especially if it has curving sides like a snake.
Animal behaviorists also believe that it is not the cucumber, but its sudden appearance that startles the cat. It's like if someone sneaks up behind you at the water cooler at work, and when you turn around, there they are.
But should you be scaring your cat with a cucumber or a banana? The answer is a resounding NO. Scaring a cat with a cucumber can make it hysterical, leading to an actual fear of cucumbers or the room in which they were scared.
The videos are funny but don't do it.
Cats Fear Many Things
A lot of things!
Cats like to act like they are fearless lions, but in many cases, their fears are keeping them from living their best cat life! Now that you know their biggest stressors, you can incorporate changes into your cat's life that will make their life a lot more relaxing.