Cats have interesting ways of showing fear, reacting to fear, and handling fear. It seems to me that some of this is universal among cats. They arch their back and puff up to appear larger than they are and growl to show how fierce they are. We laugh when we see a kitten take this posture, but that kitten isn’t laughing. He means business. Reach in with a hand to comfort him cautiously.
But what interests me this week is how cats handle their fear of strangers, for example, loud noises, and such—things like the sound of rain or hail, thunder, a car backfiring, or the constant roar of a lawnmower or blower. For five days in the last few weeks we had chain saws and a chipper and a stump grinding machine take over our yard to remove a large fallen oak. And I’m still impressed by how Olivia handled this.
When Olivia came to live with us at three months old, she was terrified of the trash trucks. If she was on her windowsill perch when they came rumbling down the street, she’d dive off of it and run into a safe room. Soon she became curious and she’d run back in to see what was going on outside her window. Now, when she hears them rumbling down the street, she runs to the window to watch them. She overcame her fear.
The tree removal noise was something different and it carried on for hours and hours. Her first instinct was to hide. Pretty soon she came out of solitude and began hanging out with me–close to me.
One day four people were walking past my office window into our backyard, hauling equipment, tools, and large loads of wood back and forth. Olivia wasn’t having it. She spends a lot of time on my desk watching the birds out the window, but the intruding workers stopped all that, but only for minutes.
Soon she was jumping up onto my desk to watch them, and that made me wonder, is she just an amazing cat that figures out ways to take care of herself—overcome her fears, or is it because she is an only cat now? There are no other cats for her to feed off of. She feeds off us instead. It’s been a very interesting process to witness, seeing a probably formerly feral cat blossom into such a curious and trusting little being.
Lily, our little tabby–who sadly crossed the rainbow bridge much to soon, had no problem with the noisy trash trucks. She even got used to the vacuum cleaner (at a distance), but thunder scared her to the core.
Max was afraid of everything. Sophie didn’t show fear—she was too gracious, but she had a hiding place we never did find and that’s where she’d go when there was anything in the atmosphere, a stranger in the house, a noise she didn’t understand. And there she’d stay until the “danger” was over.
Max hid from everything under the blankets on my bed.
What is your cat afraid of and how does she handle it?