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Helping Ease a Cat’s Fear of Children and Loud Noises

If you are a cat owner, you will have realized just how sensitive cats are. They can get frightened by almost anything including your family members and other pets. Many cats are particularly prone to be scared of loud noises and quick, sudden movements. This can, unfortunately, make children the ultimate enemy as they can be both loud and very active! A scared cat is likely to develop cat anxiety so, it is important to address the problem and take steps to improve it as soon as possible.

So how can you ease your cat’s fear of children and loud noises?

Cats have sharp hearing, which means they can hear sounds that humans can’t. They can sense a larger spectrum of frequencies and detect noises from a much greater distance. So, it’s natural for cats to be surprised and scared when they encounter loud, or unusual noises, such as the doorbell buzzing. Especially if they are not expecting it! 

When you bring a new cat into your home, it’s also perfectly normal for them to be afraid of your pets and other family members, especially children. Cats are creatures of habit so they need a little time to get used to a new environment and all of its inhabitants. In the long term, cats are more likely to develop a fear of children because they are more likely to mishandle them. 

If your feline companion suffers from cat anxiety, it may become destructive or even cause itself an injury when faced with potential triggers. Therefore, it is important to know how to help a cat that is afraid of loud noises. 

How to keep my cat calm in the vicinity of loud noises?

scared cat with wide eyes open

If your cat is afraid of loud noises, there are two techniques you can use to tackle this problem.

Desensitization technique

This involves playing the noises that trigger cat anxiety at a low volume. The volume is then increased slowly in implements. Over time, this will help your cat get used to the noise and no longer fear it.

When you play the sound, pay close attention to your cat’s behavior and body language. Give an extra-special treat, a round of play, or some fussing whenever your cat appears calm. Continue doing this for a few minutes but make sure you turn the sound off if your cat gets overly anxious. You can complete numerous short sessions a day until your cat becomes accustomed to the noise.

Counter-conditioning technique

In counter-conditioning, the particular sound that scares your cat is associated with a positive feeling. Basically, whenever a potentially frightening sound is heard by your cat, you should give it a treat. This will eventually make your cat think of the sound as a good thing and no longer scary. 

The counter-conditioning technique can be performed on its own. However, it works best when paired with desensitization. This way, the negative stimulus is still present but not over your cat’s stress threshold level. Once a scared cat has reached a particular degree of fear, they are unlikely to be interested in whatever you are providing as a counter-conditioning incentive. 

Here are a few other things you can try to help your cat cope with loud noises and anxiety:

Thundershirts: These are tight-fitting shirts that can help to reduce anxiety by applying mild tension to your cat’s torso (similar to wrapping an infant). However, bear in mind that they may have the opposite effect if your cat isn’t used to wearing garments!

Calming music: Music is food for the soul, not only for humans but also for animals. Playing relaxing music has been proven to help keep pets calm during intense events. This is because it creates a “white noise” effect that can help block out the panic trigger for cats that are afraid of loud noises.

Now, let’s discuss some of the most common noises that scare cats and what you can do to lessen their anxiety:

A vacuum cleaner: Before you begin vacuum cleaning your house, take your scared cat to a secure area. A blanket pinned at the base of the door may help to minimize the noise even further. If you use a vacuum cleaner frequently, try using a mini hand vacuum or a hand carpet sweeper in specific areas as these are less noisy and intimidating.

Mobile phone ringtone: To ease the nerves of a scared cat, lower the volume of your phone if it has a volume adjustment feature. Changing the ring tone may also be beneficial. Some phones can even light up instead of ringing which will help your kitty immensely.

Noises that are loud, sudden, or unexpected: These are intrinsically difficult to predict and avoid. Try providing alternative hiding places in your home to prevent cat anxiety and give your kitty somewhere to retreat to when it feels scared. Make sure they are in quiet areas of your home or up high. Cats tend to feel safer when they are off the floor as they can survey their surroundings better.

Now that we have talked about cats’ fear of loud noises, let’s discuss how to ease a cat’s fear of children.

The first few days in a new home can be pretty stressful for any cat, but they can be incredibly exciting for a kid! Your child will probably want to spend lots of time with the cat but the cat will be less willing. This can lead to fear and shyness around all children. To ease your cat’s stress and prevent cat anxiety, introduce your cat to your family members slowly. Never leave your cat unattended with children.

You can also provide a calm, low-traffic area in your home for your cat. If your children are under the age of ten, this should not be their bedroom. Explain to your children that the cats’ area is off-limits, to allow your feline companion to adjust to its new surroundings.

Sedatives for comfort from stressful situations

You can spray soothing pheromones (such as Feliway) on your pet’s collar or bed. Alternatively, you can disperse them through your home via a diffuser. These products often replicate the pheromones generated by nursing female cats, which can provide your feline companion with a sense of security.

Before any expected stressful events, vets can administer sedatives. If you want your cat to benefit from such medicines, you should discuss options with your vet as they will be able to guide you on the best options. Never try to administer sedatives yourself as this can lead to a whole host of issues.  

Now that we have talked about cat anxiety resulting from loud noises and the fear of mishandling by children, let me share a surprising fact with you. It has been noted that sometimes cats can get stressed by the actions of their owners, who are just trying to calm them. 

For instance, when we notice our pet is nervous or scared, we often try to soothe them by patting or holding them. At this time, it simply adds to their anxiousness. Your cat may misinterpret your caring behavior which can lead to even higher stress levels. As the owner, you know your cat best. So, always watch out for signs that indicate anxiety whenever you approach them. If you are unsure, the best thing to do is to leave them alone until they have calmed down.

Author

Picture of Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn is an animal advocate, cat expert, and the proud mom of 2 rescue cats, Sugar, a beautiful fluffy tabby and Beebee, a black, fluffy beauty. Evelyn has studied animal care while volunteering at her local shelter. She loves all animals and wants to share the animal knowledge she has been lucky enough to gain together with knowledge from other experts with cat parents across the world.