Did you ever think about how your cat feels during a thunderstorm? We thought we would explore this weather phenomenon in terms of cats since it is the time of year when most of us will likely experience it. Can you imagine how our feline companions feel when the thunder booms and the lightning flashes? You can’t blame them for feeling like their happy little world is coming to a resounding end.
Even if your cat usually hides his fears, you should be on the lookout to see if your kitty is reacting badly. This could take the form of lashing out or hissing. These are his means of self-protection. The following are some of the ways you can help him feel safe during these anxiety-provoking storms.
1. Provide him with a safe space in which to hide. Close all curtains and windows so he can’t look out. Rest assured, he will come out when the storm is over.
2. Make sure YOU stay calm. Kitty can sense your emotions. If you “act normal,” he will see that you are calm. That will help him relax. This is crucial on your part.
3. Supply “white noise.” You can mask the storm sounds with television or soothing music. Just remember how sensitive his ears are.There is no need to turn the volume up as that will just bother him and make matters worse.
4. Play time is counterconditioning. Take this time to play. It will tire him out so he is not distracted by his fears. Or, teach Kitty tricks which can be rewarded with cat treats. The goal of counterconditioning is to keep his focus on activities that are incompatible with anxiety and distract him from his fears at the same time.
5. Explore medications. If thunderstorm anxiety is a recurring issue, it may be time to discuss it with your vet. Anxiolytics are commonly used meds that successfully treat thunderstorm anxiety. There are slow acting ones that resemble anti-depressants and fast acting ones similar to Valium. However, NEVER administer human drugs without veterinary supervision and a prior examination where you can discuss his health and any medical conditions.
6. Consider non-medical intervention. Holistic herbal and floral essences have been used successfully to reduce anxiety. Cat calming pheromones, like those in Feliway, have been known to help. Even melatonin, a natural supplement may do the trick. Besides ingestibles, there are the popular thundershirts and other anxiety wraps. Of course, these will only work if Kitty can tolerate wearing them.
Finally, thunderstorms will come and go, but how we help our feline family deal with them can make all the difference in his comfort level by eliminating, or to a large degree, lessening his anxieties in their wake.
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