For those of us who have a dog around the house, we know how irritable they can get when there is thunder and lightning outside and it can take a long while before they calm down again, however while this is well known with dogs does thunder affect cats in the same way?
There are many differences between the two animals including how heightened their senses are and how they react when in a frightened state, so their reactions to what’s going on around them can vary quite a bit and this includes their reaction to thunder.
We have taken a deep dive into if and why cats may be scared of thunder, and what the best method of calming them down is.
Do Cats Get Scared Of Thunder?
Because of how bright, loud and sudden thunder is paired with how good a cat's hearing is, they will commonly get frightened from thunder just as they can from heavy gusts of wind or rain storms.
While cats are often seen as the more independent pets that will proudly strut around the house, thunder will often cause them a lot of anxiety.
This goes the same for all types of cats, there are no variants that are more resistant to the sound of thunder than others.
Because pets such as cats are not trained to know that typically thunder will strike with a loud bang after lightning, it can easily catch them off guard and put them into an anxious state with recent studies even suggesting that cats will start feeling uneasy an hour or two before the thunder even strikes as they react to a change in barometric pressure.
How Do Cats React To Thunder?
Cats will usually react in a much different manner to the sound of thunder than dogs who will usually start barking and become really restless as long as it lasts.
Cats will instead show their fear by hiding under the furniture or a bed or even hiding in the closet until the thunder stops completely.
Because of their ability to detect a sudden fall in atmospheric pressure thanks to their ears, cats can even start to hide away an entire hour before the storm even starts.
The good news is that this fear of thunder will not develop into a phobic stage as it does with dogs between 5 to 9 years where it can create a phobia of harsh weather in general, cats will instead simply wait out the storm and come out of hiding when they feel comfortable to roam around again.
Therefore, while cats will not make their fear and anxiety of thunder as visible and apparent as dogs, they will almost always be bothered by the noise so it's important to help them feel as comfortable as possible until the storm is over.
How To Help A Cat Calm Down From Thunder?
If you know a storm is coming, there are luckily quite a few ways you can be a prepared owner and make sure your cat is as comfortable as they possibly can be until the storm passes, here are a few of the most reliable methods.
Provide Comfortable Hiding Spots
Many cats will have a regular spot they go to when they want to sleep or relax, and this is most commonly where they will go when they rush to a safe spot away from the thunder so as long as you know where this spot is, it can be a good idea to try and fit some comfortable bedding there and if you can, even squeeze in a food or water bowl to keep them as comfortable as possible.
Additionally if your cat has a favorite bed or mattress they love resting on, you can move it to a safe and more isolated area of the house and place cushions or blanket covers around it so that the cat is hiding somewhere familiar that they know is a safe space.
Just like how we can observe how anxious cats are just from their body language, cats can do just the same with humans, especially with owners who have had them for a few months or years, and they will respond to any bodily tension by becoming anxious themselves.
It is therefore important to always keep a calm and cool demeanor and act as if the thunder isn’t even there, this can help a cat feel much more relaxed and convince them to come out of their hiding spot much sooner.
Separate Your Cats
Stressful situations can often result in what is called multicat tension where multiple cats will start becoming aggravated and even attack others out of their built up fear.
If you have more than one cat, and especially if they don’t tend to be best of friends at the best of times, it can be a good idea to have a few separate comfortable hiding spots so that you don’t need to constantly check that they haven’t resorted to fighting.
Avoid Making Loud noises
Since it is primarily the loud crashing noise of thunder that scares cats the most, it can be worthwhile to avoid making any more loud piercing noises which could only increase the cat's anxiety.
Make sure all windows and doors are closed so that the sound is as isolated as possible and if you’re watching television or listening to music, try and turn it to a low volume or even better, use headphones so the sound is absent entirely.
Many animals, including cats, actually quite like the soothing sound of some ambient music so you could even put some on instead to try and mask the noise of the thunder so that you and your feline companion can relax together.
While they may not make it obvious, thunder is incredibly stressful for cats so if you know a storm is around the corner, try to keep them as calm and comfortable as possible until they can roam around freely again.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.