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Thunderstorms can be very scary for pets. The loud noises and bright jolts of light from thunder and lightning can make even the most independent cat incredibly anxious. Sometimes we think of our cats as beautiful, independent creatures who can handle their own, but when thunder strikes, our little furballs can become little furballs of stress and anxiety. As a pet parent, how can you reassure them that everything will be okay and the storm will soon pass? Luckily, there are many easy ways we can address feline anxiety to help our furry friends overcome their trepidation of turbulent precipitation.
Does your cat freak out at the first sign of a thunderstorm? Find out how to calm cat anxiety with this complete guide. Here are some tips on how to help your anxious cat remain calm, cool, and collected during a thunderstorm:
Make sure they have a safe space.
As a cat owner, you can ensure that your cat feels protected throughout the storm’s duration by providing them a safe space to weather the storm. Your cat will likely want to retreat into your closet or under your bed, but you can provide them with alternative forms of shelter and security. Creating a safety nest out of a cardboard box with your cat’s favorite blankets and some pillows is a great start. If storms are a common occurrence where you live, consider creating or buying a more permanent hideaway spot. If your cat prefers to retreat somewhere up high, you can make them a secured, covered bed on a shelf.
Lessen the storm.
The less of the storm your cat experiences, the less anxiety they’ll feel about it. Shut the doors, close the windows, roll down the blinds, and draw the curtains. Turn on your TV or hit ‘play’ on a podcast. The less light and loud noises coming into your home and your cat’s safe space, the safer and more secure they’ll feel during the storm.
Be sure to keep all windows and doors secure.
This somewhat falls under the last point, but it bears repeating to keep all your windows and doors secure during a storm. Some cats will retreat into more sheltered spaces like under your bed, deep in your closet, or in the safe space created and designated for them. But some might have the urge to run when they feel like they’re in danger. Securing all exits will help keep them inside where it’s safe, dry, and nowhere near the storm. The last thing your anxious cat wants is to hastily flee outside and get caught up in the storm when they’re trying to get away from it.
Distracting your cat is an excellent way to reduce thunderstorm anxiety. You can use a white noise machine, entertain them with a cat toy, give them cat treats, or just keep them company by giving them head rubs and pets (if they’ll let you near them).
Make sure you’re keeping yourself calm as well. Sometimes our pets aren’t the only ones with anxiety around thunderstorms, and that’s okay! Just be sure you do some calming breathing exercises and other anxiety-reducing remedies that’ll help you be present and calm around your stressed cat. Animals can sense when we’re stressed or anxious. If they sense that you’re calm and collected, it will encourage them to also feel the same.
Try a herbal remedy.
Herbal remedies can help cats reduce anxiety just like they can with humans. There are many different forms of herbal remedies for your cat to try out: aromatherapy diffusers, CBD droplets/tinctures, herbal extracts that can be combined with their food and water, and catnip, of course.
Consult your veterinarian.
Wherever your cat lands on the anxiety scale, whether it’s a mild case or more, talking to your veterinarian can help determine the best route to take to mitigate the anxiety. Sometimes there can be an underlying health issue that is triggering or amplifying their anxiety. Could they have a thunderstorm phobia?
When you’re observing your cats’ behavior during a thunderstorm, check for signs that could be due to an underlying phobia of thunderstorms instead of just regular thunderstorm cat anxiety. Untreated phobias in cats can cause chronic stress, which can weaken immune systems and cause other health problems. Some signs of cat behavior that could indicate the presence of a thunderstorm phobia are:
- Large widened pupils
- Fur standing straight up
- Tense and crouched position
- Hissing, spitting, biting
If your feline friend starts exhibiting cat aggression like that towards you when you try to pick them up, they could have a thunderstorm phobia. Talking to your veterinarian will help determine the best phobia and anxiety-reducing treatments for your cat’s stressful situations.
Once the storm outside passes, so will the storm of anxiety inside your stressed cat. Providing them with a safe space full of distractions and positive vibes the next time lightning strikes will ease them into a more relaxed state – just like a thunderstorm eventually eases into a vibrant rainbow once the skies clear.