Do cats have phobias? Yes. Cats can have phobias, just like humans. Felines who are anxious by nature are more likely to suffer from irrational fears. You may be able to tell if the cat has an anxious nature by the look in her eyes. My Princessa’s eyes constantly move around, looking for imagined dangers. Her body is often tense.
Cats common fears
- Unfamiliar environment
- Sudden noise
- Unfamiliar humans
- Closed places
- Humans moving too fast close to her
Reasons for these common feline phobias
In the wild, you don’t know what kind of predators lurk in an unfamiliar environment. Rustling leaves can indicate the presence of a poisonous snake or a large predator creeping closer. Humans and dogs are also considered larger predators. Being stuck in a closed place in the wild isn’t a good idea because it cuts off your escape route in case of an attack. And vets handle cats and sometimes cause them minor pain.
Less common feline phobias
My Amiga had an irrational fear of my new pants. She refused to sit on my lap and kept staring at them, sniffing them and then retreating quickly. Maybe it was the smell. In the wild, an unknown smell can indicate poison, disease, predators, fire.
Also, she runs away when I throw a toy mouse for her to chase, and none of my other cats do that. They all run after the toy, not the other way around. She might fear the toy will hit her. She’s also a bit afraid of the shoelace when I wiggle it in front of her, which is why I don’t tease her with it the way I do with my other cat.
Years ago, I had my house exterminated. When it was over, I put a blanket on the floor before letting my cats back in, so they won’t step on the floor. Amiga was terrified of stepping on the blanket. She kept staring at it like she expected it to come to life and smother her. I had put a food bowl at the edge of the blanket and took it closer to the center of the blanket, one inch at a time. She had overcome her irrational feline fear.
See phobias through feline eyes
Cats aren’t as logical as we are, which may actually protect them against phobias. They don’t watch the news, and they aren’t aware of some dangers that lurk outside. They probably don’t worry about something that might happen unless they’d suffer some kind of prior trauma.
For example; your cat isn’t going to develop car phobia, and isn’t going to stay awake waiting for you to come home, worrying about an accident. Cats phobias need a trigger. The sudden loud noise or the smell from unfamiliar material. Cats don’t pick up phobias by obsessing about the statistics of car accidents and crime.
But felines have a hard time overcoming their phobias. They don’t know all the tricks, to take one step at a time, to pretend to be in a safe and quiet place, to rationalize that statistically it’s highly unlikely for a cat to be killed by dogs.
How to help your cat overcome irrational fears
How to help your cat overcome feline phobias? One step at a time, just like humans who suffer from phobia. First you place the object your cat is afraid of within sight, and then closer and closer. It might take time and patience.
Your kitty will feel safer if you’re there for her, and she doesn’t have to overcome her feline phobias alone.
Sometimes treats can help the cat associate the thing that scares her with something pleasant. There’s also petting and ear scratching.
Does your pet have a phobia? Let’s share stories in the comments. I’d love to hear your story.
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