why is my cat scared of everything

Why Is My Cat Suddenly Scared of Everything?!

We get it, sometimes it really can feel like your cat is suddenly scared of everything! Particularly if you have a naturally anxious cat who jumps at the slightest of noises.

We like to think of our cats as these fearless, aloof, independent creatures who fear nothing except the thought of their food bowls not being refilled. However, the truth is that cats can get scared of a lot of things, from loud noises to unfamiliar people. It only becomes concerning when it seems your cat is scared about everything and it is affecting their quality of life.

The first thing you will want to do is perhaps the trickiest – figure out the reasons behind why your cat is afraid of everything. Once you’ve done that, you can then determine the most important steps to take to help them overcome their fear.

cat is suddenly scared of everything burmese cat

Why Is My Cat Suddenly Scared Of Everything?

A cat can be afraid for a variety of reasons so you first need to determine whether your cat has always displayed this behavior or if it’s something new.

One reason a cat may display a fear of everything is a change in routine. This can be due to you moving or adding someone new to the household. 

Other potential causes include an underlying medical condition, separation anxiety, past trauma, loud noises, a dirty litter box, or simply the wrong type of litter box! A cat that was not properly socialized as a kitten may also develop anxiety.

All these reasons have different levels of severity, from basic to full-on panic attacks, but all should be taken seriously. If your cat is always scared, then this is going to cause a lot of issues in the long run.

If you’re not sure how to tell if your cat fears everything, lookout for signs of a stressed cat. These include:

  • Excessive meowing
  • Toileting outside of the litter box
  • A change in eating habits
  • Withdrawal
  • Destructive behavior
  • Excessive or very vigorous grooming

It may seem daunting when it feels like your cat is afraid of everything, even its own shadow! But don’t worry, there are things you can do to help your skittish cat become… not so skittish.

I’ve had multiple cats that are afraid of everything (even the sound of a sneeze). So, I can reassure you that there are things you can do to help them deal with it. While you may not be able to put a stop to it completely, you can lessen their anxiety and help them to feel more comfortable.

cat is suddenly scared of everything Cute little red kitten sleeps on fur white blanket

What Can I Do To Help Relax My Skittish Cat?

There are things you can do to help your scared cat, and a good first step is establishing a routine. As creatures that thrive on routine, you’d be surprised at how helpful a daily schedule can be. Try to perform tasks at a similar time every day, whether that’s cleaning out the litter box, feeding, or playing with them.

Another way to coax your cat into feeling comfortable is with the use of treats. Treats and food in general are great ways to build a bond. Make sure you keep their environment as calm and quiet as possible when attempting to give them treats. You don’t want them to associate treats with anything loud and scary!

This is hard, but you need to be patient. Keep your tone soft, and ultimately just let your cat come to you in their own time. You never want to force contact with your cat, which I’ll get into later. 

Finally, you can try using natural remedies to alleviate your cat’s anxiety. There are numerous types on the market that can be swallowed with food. Alternatively, you can purchase a diffuser that is specifically designed to release calming feline pheromones into the air of your home. 

If none of this seems to work, then medication is an option for your cat. However, you must speak to your vet first. There are various different types of medication for cats so you should be able to find one that works for your kitty.

do cats get separation anxiety cat near the door

What You Shouldn’t Do If Your Cat Is Scared Of Everything

It is vital that you don’t engage in any behaviors that could cause your cat’s fear to grow. The most important thing is that you should never punish your cat if they are displaying any signs of fear. This is just likely to make the situation worse. Would you want to be punished for showing something that you have no control over?

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should never yell or scold your cat for being afraid. For one, it’s not fair because they aren’t doing it on purpose, and two, the loud sound of your voice may have the opposite effect and scare them even more!

If your cat’s response to fear is to hide somewhere, never try to force them out. By doing this, you are going to increase their fear even more and that is the last thing you want to do! Also, keep in mind that cats have sharp teeth and claws. You’ll end up with a lot of bites and scratches if you try to physically pull them out of a hiding place. There is also the possibility that you could injure your cat. Instead, you should just leave your cat alone and allow them to come out in their own time. 

If your cat does end up biting or scratching you, you can simply apply a topical medication or bandage and it should be fine (Does your cat lick you and then bite you? Read here to find out what they’re doing). However, it is worth bearing in mind that some scratches or bites can become infected, depending on the severity. Cat Scratch Disease (also called Cat Scratch Fever) is an infection that is caused by a type of bacteria called Bartonella henselae, which is carried in a cat’s saliva. It is commonly picked up from fleas. Symptoms to look out for include: 

  • Redness and swelling around the affected area
  • Raised lesions, with or without pus
  • A headache
  • Lethargy
  • A loss of appetite

Final Thoughts

When you first realize your cat is afraid of everything, it can feel like all hope is lost, but it’s not. Pinpointing the possible reasons for this behavior and noting all the signs and symptoms they might be displaying is the first step. Net, try to curb this fear and put a stop to it once and for all. Is it going to be easy? Sorry but probably not! However, give your cat your gift of time and patience now and you’ll no longer be thinking, Help! My cat is scared of everything!


Picture of Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong is a devoted cat Mom and freelance writer with a passion for all animals, but especially cats. She has owned cats since she was six years old and even though she is now in her thirties, her love for cats has never faded. She continues to adopt cats and give them a safe, loving home. Currently, Desiree spends most of her time writing. In her free time, she cares for her furbaby, a tabby cat named Halo who is nearing her seventh birthday.