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Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden? 13 Reasons Why

Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden? 13 Reasons Why

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Despite being predators in nature, our cats are also potential prey to bigger predators. Because of that, they can be frightened and feel in danger, especially our house cats, who aren’t used to the world outside their home.

The most common things that scare our cats are loud and unfamiliar noises, changes in their environment, new animals, pain, injuries, strangers, and so on.

The list is very long; however, I tried to create a list of the most common things to help you better understand your feline friend. So, here are 13 possible reasons that will help you if you are wondering why is my cat scared all of a sudden?

Why Is My Cat Scared All Of A Sudden?

Scared gray cat

Our cats get scared by many different things, and sometimes you don’t notice what scares your kitty, while at other times, you can easily find out the cause of the stress.

This article provides you with possible answers to the main question – why is my cat scared all of a sudden? 

Before checking them out, here are the most common signs that your cat is frightened that can alert you that you need to help your scaredy-cat calm down.

Signs That Your Cat Is Frightened

The most common signs that your cat is traumatized or frightened by something are:

• Frequent cat behavior changes

• Excessive hiding behavior

• Loud and excessive meowing

• Pooping or peeing outside the litter box


• Excessive grooming

• Loss of appetite

Dilated pupils

• Flattened ears

Puffed tail

• Aggressive behavior and excessive vocalization (hissing)

• Running or jumping around

If you notice some of these symptoms in your feline friend, it means that it’s scared by something. To help your cat calm down, then you should determine what frightened your kitty and try to reduce or eliminate the thing that caused the stress.

To help you with that, keep reading and check out the possible reasons for fearful behavior in cats.

13 Reasons Why Is Your Cat Scared All Of A Sudden

#1 Changes In The Cat’s Environment

A scared striped cat with yellow eyes hiding behind cat post

Every cat parent should know that felines are animals that get used to a certain routine. Once that routine changes, they start feeling scared and disrupted, not feeling safe there anymore.

Therefore, if you notice that your cat is acting scared all of a sudden, try to recall whether you changed anything in your living environment in the last few days that might upset your kitty.

For example, if you have replaced your cat’s litter box or other equipment, or if you have provided it with new things, the cat can get scared because things that they were used to are now gone.

Moreover, if you have reorganized the furniture in the house or similar, that may also scare your cat because it may not feel comfortable with the new look of the environment, or it may get confused if it cannot find a certain thing and similar.

READ ALSO: Why Is Your Cat Twitching In Sleep? 5 Possible Reasons

#2 Things You Can’t Hear

You probably know that cats have exceptional senses that allow them to detect certain things or react quickly. One of these super senses is hearing. Therefore, if your kitty got scared all of a sudden, it could be due to sounds that you cannot hear. 

Cats can hear sounds that we can’t and they can also feel vibrations that we can’t feel. Because of that, cats can sense bad energy which frightens them and makes them look for a safe spot.

I already mentioned my grandma’s cat in one of the articles, but here’s a short version once again. Her cat got scared all of a sudden and started running and jumping around the house like crazy. 

My granny was confused and didn’t know what to do. But, then her cat hid under the table and an earthquake started to shake. So, it’s possible that her cat heard some noises, or felt certain vibrations that alarmed her and made her find a safe spot.

#3 Strangers In Your Home

a beautiful cat is hiding behind the bed

One thing I know for sure, after meeting many different cats, is that there are shy kitties and there are those who don’t worry about anything. Those who aren’t shy won’t usually mind you having guests over or similar. 

However, if your furry friend is a bit shy, it may not feel comfortable around strangers. What frightens our cats about strangers even more is that they usually bring a variety of different scents into your environment, many of which cats don’t like or aren’t familiar with. 

If your kitty is a shy one, you should be careful as it may react aggressively towards your guests, especially if they try to pet it while it’s not feeling comfortable. 

In such situations, it would be best to isolate your kitty to a safe and calm room when having guests over, or to warn your guests not to touch the cat if it’s not in the mood.

#4 The Cat Is Aging

Just like humans have many difficulties while aging, cats can find it difficult too. The first two things that aging affects in cats are their hearing and vision. 

As these two senses are some of the most important for our feline friends, they may find it difficult to adapt as they age. Therefore, cats with hearing and visual impairment may feel frightened and not know what to do. Just like that, they may be frightened by bad vision. 

With dulled senses, cats may be afraid most of the time and feel not safe or comfortable where they are. Because of that, they may often look for safe spots to hide in order to protect themselves from potential harm.

#5 New Home

If you recently moved into a new home along with your cat, be prepared as adapting to the new environment can be very difficult for your cat.

As I already mentioned, kitties are creatures of routine, therefore, when they switch homes, they may not feel safe or comfortable there as the area is unknown to them. If your cat feels sudden fear in the new home, it will probably hide often and look for calm and safe spots. 

When will the cat adapt to a new home depends on every individual cat, but the important thing is to make your feline feel comfortable and safe, and give it some time to explore all the environment, and get used to this sudden change.

#6 Things You Can’t See

a scared yellow cat is lying on the laminate

If you notice that your furry friend is scared all of a sudden, maybe something happened while you weren’t there and traumatized the cat. No cat parent can keep track of their cats all the time, and bad things usually happen when you’re not there.

For example, if you have a multi-cat household, maybe the dominant cats bully the other cats by chasing them, not letting them eat, and similar. Of course, that leads to bullied cats being scared and frightened. 

So, cats may often be scared due to things or events that you haven’t seen. Because of that, you should pay more attention to your pet cat, especially if you’re having a whole feline company there. 

If they don’t get along, then it would be best to separate them while they’re not under supervision. But, more about solutions further on in the article.

READ ALSO: How Long Will A Cat Hide If Scared Outside & How To Find It

#7 Loud And Unfamiliar Sounds

Cats can hear high-pitched sounds that we can’t, which is good for them as it helps them in their everyday life. However, some sounds may be very loud or unusual to them making them uncomfortable and not feeling safe. 

The most common loud sounds or noises that frighten our cats include thunder, vacuum cleaners, cars, traffic, emergency sirens, car crashes, and similar.

However, a cat who had a traumatic past event such that it was hit by a car or something similar, may be terrified hearing the sound of a car crash as it may remind them of the bad memories leaving our cats vulnerable and scared. 

This traumatic experience may often lead to different behavior issues, such as aggression, running, or jumping as though the cat is trying to save itself from experiencing the same event again. 

Luckily, this issue can be solved in most cases, so keep reading. If you cannot wait, because this is the main reason why your cat is scared all of a sudden, then just skip to the section where I talk about helping a frightened or traumatized cat.

#8 Changes In The Cat’s Diet

Just as our felines don’t like any kind of change, they certainly don’t like changes in their diet. We all know that cats need a diet based on animal protein from real meat in order to receive essential nutrients. 

Well, if you start changing the cat’s diet, or feeding time, that can upset and scare cats more than you might imagine. Cats, especially those who have experienced mistreatment, may fear that they won’t get the meal at all, which is very sad.

Moreover, some changes in the cat’s diet may not suit your feline friend, which may lead to different health issues such as digestion issues, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and similar. 

If such a thing happens your cat will be in great pain and vulnerable, which leads us to one of the previous paragraphs which says that cats can also be scared if they’re injured or in pain.

#9 Children In Your Home

beautiful scared kitten

If you’re a cat parent having children over, then you might want to pay closer attention to your cat. Most cats don’t really like children or anyone else bothering them. The main reason for that is that many children are often too harsh to them, or behave as if they were toys.

I know that my kitty Luna always hides when my young nephew comes over because he’s always bothering her and she doesn’t like that.

Besides that, cats may also be frightened if you bring a new baby home. During the first introduction between your furbaby and a real one, a cat may not feel comfortable and may feel either scared or jealous. 

Luckily, as long as your kitty is well-socialized and properly introduced to the baby you shouldn’t worry and your kitty will get used to the new family member sooner than you think. Still, the cat may still get scared of the baby’s cry, laugh, and similar sounds that are not quite familiar to the cat yet.

#10 The Cat Is In Pain Or Injured

Cats may often get scared when they’re in great pain or injured, and there’s a reasonable explanation for that too.

In general, cats are great at hiding pain. They may be in pain for a longer period of time but will try to hide it from you. This happens because of a natural instinct. 

If a cat is injured or in pain and it shows it, this will show that it’s vulnerable and weak. Because of this, they hide their pain and often hide in safe spots in order to survive until they get better. 

Our house cats also have that same instinct, which means that they often hide their pain. When they’re in pain, they’re always cautious due to being afraid of potential danger. 

If you notice any signs that your cat is frightened, it may be that the cat is in pain or injured. In that case, make sure you approach your cat carefully to examine it. 

Some cats may react aggressively as a way of defending themselves, but usually, cats who trust their owners won’t feel the need to protect themselves and will allow them to approach. In that case, it would be best to take your kitty to the vet to make sure it’s going to be alright.

#11 A New Cat In Your Home

If you have one pet cat and you decide to get your cat a roommate, that may not start off as you imagined. Both cats may be afraid and shocked. The first cat will probably be shocked to see another cat on its territory especially if it has been the only cat for a long period of time. 

However, the other cat will probably be shocked too because it’s in a new and unfamiliar environment with an unknown cat. So, if you choose this then you’ll have a lot of work to do. 

The work will be even harder if you have an adult cat and adopt another adult cat as that can end aggressively. Both cats will need a certain period of time to get used to each other, but only if you work on the proper introduction of the two cats

How long the adaptation time will take depends on the individual cats, for example, shy cats may take longer, while others may adapt to the new family member very quickly.

#12 Unfamiliar Things From Outside

scared red tabby cat hiding under a bed sheet

Indoor cats may often be scared by different things from outside, such as sounds, objects, other animals, and things they see while watching through a window. The most common things from outside that may scare your kitty include:

• Strong wind

• Thunder

• Lightening

• Dogs

• Birds

• Squirrels

• Leaves from the trees

• Helicopter, traffic, or similar machines

Sometimes, it’s actually funny seeing your cat enjoying a window view and suddenly jumping high in the air and running away as something scared it. There’s nothing much you can do about it, and cats usually calm down very quickly afterwards. 

However, the problem may be with thunder and lightning. My tomcat Thor (ironic, right?) always trembles during bad weather, and that’s when I need to turn all of my attention to him. He’s actually the sweetest boy ever because he feels safest lying next to me under a blanket.

#13 A New Pet In Your Home

If you have recently adopted a new pet, such as a dog, rabbit, or anything similar, that may be the main reason why your cat is scared all of a sudden. The level of a cat’s fear will actually depend on the cat’s personality, including how it was raised.

For example, cats that were raised with dogs may get scared because they don’t know the dog, and therefore, they don’t know whether it is a threat or a friend. On the other hand, cats who have never been introduced to dogs before may be frightened by just seeing one. 

However, there is another type of cat. I once found a ginger kitten in my street and I decided to bring it home. That little fur boy didn’t care about anything but cuddling. He always looked for something to rub against; he would normally come to my Stafford and start cuddling with him, while the poor dog was completely confused.

Back to the new pet in the cat’s home, here are several things that may frighten the cat most about a new pet:

• The cat may be afraid of the sound that the new pet makes.

• The cat may feel neglected or jealous.

• The new pet will bring new scents.

So, if you plan on adopting another animal, I advise you to be careful and do your best to introduce the two roommates properly. Give them some time to get used to each other, but don’t leave them without supervision.

READ ALSO: Why Is My Cat Chewing On Nothing? 14 Reasons!

How To Help A Frightened Cat?

There are many different ways to help a frightened cat and calm it down. However, before we try to help it, it’s crucial to find out exactly what scared the cat and caused it stress and then reduce or completely eliminate it if possible, or simply help the cat get used to that thing.

Here are some of the possible solutions for each problem:

• Make sure you keep the cat’s environment the same or introduce the changes gradually so that the cat isn’t shocked by the new environment.

• If your feline friend is afraid of loud noises due to negative experiences in the past, or sounds and vibrations that you can’t hear, make sure you provide your kitty with a calm and quiet place where it can be safe and far away from things that may trigger phobias. 

You can also provide them with several boxes, or something similar so that they can have a place to hide because that’s what they do when scared, and helps them feel calmer and safer.

• If you’re having guests over, especially with young children, and if your cat doesn’t feel comfortable in such company or crowd, make sure you separate the cat in another room while you’re having guests. 

That way, it won’t be disturbed or stressed and will be able to enjoy time on its own. Just don’t forget to provide them with all their necessary items, such as a litter box, food and water bowls, and even toys that can keep them busy and entertained.

• If you have moved to a new home, you should provide your cat with several safe spots where they can hide when they don’t feel safe. A new home is unknown to cats and it’s okay for them to be afraid until they explore it and get used to it.

You can provide your cat with one small room where it will have all the necessary items including cat toys, a bed, and similar types of entertainment. After that, gradually let your cat out to explore the new home. While doing that you can reward it with its favorite treats to let it know that it’s doing fine and that it’s safe there with you.

• If you’re having a multi-cat household, or you have just gotten a new cat or a new animal, then you should pay special attention to your pets. If your cats don’t always get along, then provide each cat with a separate room and let them hang out together only when they’re under your supervision. 

If you’re getting a new pet, then you should pay attention to introducing them properly in order to avoid possible relationship issues. Give them some time to get used to each other and monitor them during the first period of time, just don’t leave them without supervision.

• If your cat is in pain or injured, approach it carefully so that the cat doesn’t attack you. Most cats who have a strong bond with their owners won’t do that, but you have to be prepared for anything. 

If you suspect that the cat is in pain or injured, make sure you take it to the vet for an examination; they will know what’s wrong with the cat and how to help it. During that period, let your kitty know that you’re there and provide it with a lot of love and attention to make it feel safe and calm.

• If your cat is aging, then I advise you to secure your environment. Old cats who start losing hearing and vision may have difficulties moving around their home. So, securing the area is the best idea in order to prevent the cat from injuring itself or something similar.

• Make sure you always feed your kitty on time, and if you decide to introduce changes in its diet, make sure you do it slowly and gradually, step-by-step.

• If your kitty is stressed and expressing anxious behavior, you should find the exact thing that causes the stress and try to reduce it or eliminate it completely if possible. 

For even better results, you can always provide your anxious cat with pheromone spray or diffusers, such as Feliway (which I often use), that will provide your kitty with a calmer environment, or consult with your vet and provide it with cat anxiety medication.

Final Words

This article is for cat owners who have issues with a cat’s fearful behavior. When a cat is stressed or scared of something, it will usually show certain changes in its behavior. One of the questions that everyone asks is – why is my cat scared all of a sudden?

There are many different things that can cause sudden fear to our feline friends such as sudden changes in their routine, new home, new pets, unknown people, pain and injuries, aging, loud and unfamiliar noises or vibrations, and similar things.

If you want to help your cat to calm down, this article also provides you with several tips. Just remember, first you should find what causes your cat fear and then find the right way to reduce it or eliminate it completely.

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