How To Keep Your Cat Calm In A Thunderstorm
Thunderstorms and lightning can be very unsettling, not only to people but pets as well. Dogs are known to be overly affected when Mother Nature displays her light and sound shows, but cats get nervous as well. Their reaction is different to that of dogs as most are known to hide under the beds or in dark corners and only come out when the storm has calmed down. If your cat gets nervous during a storm, all they need is care and protection. Here are several things you can do to help cats maintain their calm during a storm.
Try to stay calm during a storm
Cats are very sharp when it comes to reading body language and when you get nervous because of a storm, they’re likely to be anxious as well. Reassure your cat that all is okay by maintaining a calm demeanor but don’t overdo it. Try to avoid comforting your cat through coddling as this will fuel the fear factor in them. Make sure to maintain calmness and centered behavior during this time.
Make sure your cat is indoors
Your cat will feel very unprotected and vulnerable if he is caught in a thunderstorm outside. If he goes out, make sure you devise a way to get him back in so that he can feel safer in the house. It is important to keep him in the house or have a way he can get back inside especially if you are in a tornado-prone area. Cat doors are a good way to let your cat come and go to the safety of the house even if you aren’t home.
Provide safe hideaways
It’s natural for a cat to look for a more secure place to hide during a storm. If your cat wants to hide, allow him to do so. Leave his carrier open and, if possible, put a blanket inside it. You may also provide him with other hiding options such as cubby holes, large boxes or a covered cat bed. This can be positioned in areas where you and your cat spend a lot of time. By keeping this cat hidey hole in the living room, you’ll be encouraging your cat to stay with you instead of having to rush under the bed to feel safe.
Comfort your cat if that’s all they need
If your cat wants comfort, offer him that, but don’t reinforce fear when doing it. Your cat often gets too frightened by a rumble of thunder, and at times, all he need is your comfort for him to feel safe. Coddle him gently and make sure not to overdo it, as too much of it will send reinforcement signal to your cat that he is right in being nervous. You don’t want to reward the fearful behavior by coddling it too much; a mistake most of us do. Comfort your cat in a way that sends a calming signal to him. Speaking in a calm tone of voice and a slow rhythmic petting is very appropriate.
The best calming wraps on the market today is the Thundershirt. It was originally designed for dogs’. But when the product proved to be successful, the company came up with a cat design. If you decide to use the anxiety wrap, make sure to give your cat an ample time to adjust to it. Distract him with some play, to make him get used to it. Make sure to buy the right size for your cat. The Wrap comes with full set of instructions on how to use it, so you don’t need to worry about figuring it out on your own. Pheromones are also a good way to keep your cat calm, Feliway make one which is excellent.
If you live in a tornado-prone area, you may consider desensitization. This approach works to make your cat get used to the sound of a thunderstorm. It involves exposing him to recorded sounds of thunder, and rewarding him for maintaining calmness. After gradual training, your cat will get used to the sound of a storm as the response to the stimulus will go on decreasing.
If your cat gets frightened every time a thunder strike, then, a visit to the veterinarian should be the way to go. Some cats have extreme levels of anxiety that cannot be solved by any of the solutions above. If your cat is one of these your veterinarian can prescribe an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication to help keep them calm during a storm.
The bottom line
Cats do react to weather changes especially thunderstorms and tornado sounds, and that’s a normal thing. Several theories have been put forward to explain why this happens, with some claiming that it’s down to cat’s acute hearing ability that makes him detect thunderstorms before we are even aware of them coming. This knowledge makes it get nervous. If you see your cat behaving strangely, and you’re aware of a predicted thunderstorm, you can take some of the above measures before the weather gets crazy.
Meow for now …Kristian Taylor