How To Calm Down a Cat: Calming Down a Cat Easily

calming down a scared cat

We all have heard the term “scaredy-cat” before, but most of us don’t quite realize what it means until we have a cat dealing with anxiety on our hands.

It can be traumatic for cat owners to see their beloved pets scared or agitated when there seems to be no obvious way to help them, even if we desperately want to do so.

We can’t explain the “irrationality” of their particular fears or try to tell them that everything will be fine and there is no reason to worry.

Instead, we are often left with tense cats hiding under our furniture, and aggressive or hostile animals that seem to want nothing to do with us.

They can also pace around quickly and meow loudly until they get relief and it can be incredibly saddening having to witness our cat like this.

How To Calm Down a Cat That Is Scared

So, what should I do in such a situation?

There has to be a way that we can help our kitty and calm it down when situations get tense or even scary.

Below you will find some of the best methods and tricks on how to keep cats calm. Most are simple products or applications that you can try yourself with your own pet at home.

Before we can find out the best way to help our pets stay calm, it is vital that we first understand the signs of anxiety and the potential causes behind it.

We need to know when we must act, so that we can offer the best help and support possible.

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anxiety in cats…

Symptoms of Anxiety in Cats

All animals exhibit one of three primal instinctive responses when faced with a threatening experience or a scary situation.

These are fight, flight, and freeze.

To fight simply means to lash out and attack back to defend yourself.

You will see it with scared cats that hiss or swipe out at you angrily with their sharp claws.

We do it ourselves with aggressive actions or words when we feel threatened or cornered. We both want the threatening force to back down and leave us alone unharmed.

Flight is simple.

We can simply run away. (like scaredy cats)

We head in the opposite direction of danger as fast as we can, walk away from conflict, or, for many cats, hide under the sofa where it is safe.

Then there is freezing.

This is the feeling where you just can’t move out of pure fear, even if you want to get away or do something.

You become rooted to the spot until something else kicks in or you finally snap out of it.

Figure out which of these relates best to your own cat and look out for these signs and symptoms.

What Is It That Scares Our Cats? -Examples

Any cat can become startled by something across the course of their day.

Perhaps they come across another cat or other animals in their territory and aren’t ready to share their space.

Strange, big humans with their clumsy ways might come into the home and try to pet them out of nowhere invading their personal space.

Anything that is unexpected and sudden could cause an anxious reaction in cats. They like familiarity, which is why we should never sneak up on them or try to prank them.

For example, we shouldn’t turn the vacuum on without making our cats aware that we have it and are about to use it.

Then there are felines that have deeper anxiety issues based on previous experiences or possible trauma.

You may have brought a small kitten in off the streets or found a rescue cat in a shelter that you decided to adopt. But, you don’t know what those cats have been through before they met you.

They could have a fear of something very specific or a general mistrust of humans because of their negative past experiences.

The latter can be very difficult to handle and could lead to some wary and skeptical behavior for a while.

Also, don’t forget that any rehabilitated cat can relapse if triggered in some way, just like humans can.

They may also deal with bouts of anxiety and stress during major changes around them. This could be someone new living in their home or a change of home as well. Moving into a different house can be very stressful for these sensitive animals.

Also read: how to take care of a new cat.

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how to calm a cat down…

Tips to Calm Cats Down During Times of Stress

The first thing to do when learning how to calm down a cat is to give them enough space to do so.

Dog lovers might rush over to their pets to give them lots of cuddles and reassurance, but this might not work so well when it comes to our cats.

If they are really stressed out and lashing out at you or others around you, leave the room and remove the threat from the situation.

Give them enough time to realize that there is nothing to worry about anymore and nothing to be afraid of.

Check in on them periodically to see if they are all right and calming down, but don’t force them to do anything they aren’t comfortable with.

Create a Safe Space

A great solution here for anyone with a cat that has long time anxiety is to provide them with a safe space where they can run and hide in if needed.

They may already have an area in the home that they feel is secure.

They might spend their time under the bed or the sofa to stay safe from threats and when they are feeling vulnerable.

This is a lot like a wild animal retreating to their den, their safe zone.

They need somewhere enclosed and dark, a place that is quiet and with one entrance preferably.

You can indulge them and help them get comfortable in this space while they get over their anxiety issues. Show patience and understanding.

Remember that it is better for rescue cats to have any sort of space than nothing at all, however inconvenient their choice may seem.

Let them take any blanket they like or soft toys under there if it makes them happier to do so.

Or, you can get a little carrier or a crate and set this up somewhere as their own little cat bedroom.

Put a cover over the top to make it look more enclosed, give them a soft nice bed and let them take in whatever they need to feel more at ease.

Over time, they may rely on this less and less as they gain more confidence and control.

But it is a nice option for them to have when they may need it. This is especially true if your cat has had any sort of bad trauma.

You might also find this helpful during house moves as it is like bringing a part of the old home with you.

Also read: why do cats like boxes so much?

What About Catnip or CBD?

Good question.

Catnip is a tried and tested way to help calm cats down and it works.

Many people are skeptical or nervous even about giving their cats catnip, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all if you know what you are doing.

You can get it in a range of products to use in the home, from various treats to toys and sprays even. Whatever suits you best.

The toys should also offer a nice distraction to aid them through any stressful situations and many cats feel calmer when their favorite toy is close by where they can see it.

Think of a small child and their favorite stuffed animal.

Also, you could grow the plant and let them roll around in it a bit.

CBD oil is another great way to calm your cat down if they get a bit hyper or anxious. It works in much the same way as it does for humans and dogs.

It is a simple tool for relaxation that should have no ill effect if you read the instructions carefully and use a trustworthy brand.

All you need to do is put some drops on their treats or food. A 10 lb cat only needs around 4 mg or less.

Alternatively, you might want to look into getting a collar that sprays pheromones to calm your cat down.

These chemicals are said to be the same ones mother cats produce for their kittens when they are still in the nest.

These bursts could provide your cat with some instant relief during a stressful situation and make it feel better. Sprays and diffusers could help as well.

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What to Avoid When Learning to Calm a Cat Down

You may have heard of a term called exposure therapy.

It is something that we use in psychotherapy ourselves when dealing with our fears and phobias.

The idea is that if we expose ourselves to the thing that scares us, then we will become more at ease with it and learn that we have nothing to worry about…

Or, at the very least, we won’t freak out so much the next time we will see it.

This could mean going over a glass walkway to deal with a fear of heights or trying to hold a spider if that is what scares you the most.

This does not work with cats.

They don’t respond well to this sort of treatment and it is not a good idea to try it on them.

You might think that if you make them sit in the room while you vacuum, they will get over their fear eventually. This isn’t that likely and it could put tremendous strain on the poor cat.

The same goes for people.

You may insist that your cat loves their loud human aunt, but that doesn’t mean you should make them sit on their lap all afternoon if they don’t seem to be comfortable with it. Give them time.

Eventually they will tolerate being more around people they don’t like.

But, if it doesn’t happen, why force it?

There’s probably loud and obnoxious human aunts of your own that you would rather not having to spend a whole afternoon stuck with. Especially not on their lap.

Also, try not to remove your furry friend from their safe space. You can entice them out with treats and toys but you can’t actually reach in like some scary monster and grab them.

Doing this will mean that the safe space isn’t secure anymore and it won’t feel as secure afterwards for them.

Imagine if you had social anxiety and were on the verge of having an embarrassing panic attack in front of a bunch of strangers, and you would retreat into the public bathroom to decompress and get away….

….only to be forcefully dragged out again.

That sounds incredibly stressful I must say.

Final Words

There are lots of useful tools that you can use to help your cats calm down in times of stress and anxiety.

Products like pheromones and catnip are great for short term situations, such as frightening thunderstorms or strangers walking around in the home uninvited.

A cozy den provides a more long-term source of relief for those cats with deeper fears and traumas.

Take your time to find the right solution that works best for your pet and try to understand the source of their fears more closely.

If they don’t respond well to the pheromones then you can try CBD if you are comfortable with it.

This is a process of trial and error and it is essential for finding the best plan of action.

After all, the better prepared you are for the next time that your cat experiences and anxiety trigger, the quicker your response will be and the sooner the positive outcomes.

Figure out what causes the stress itself, find the best relief, and stay patient and soothing at all times.

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Author: Cathour

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