Thunderstorms can be very unsettling. Typically, when it comes to our pets, dogs are the ones who end up shaking, crying or hiding when Mother Nature displays a sound and light show, but many cats also become nervous. If thunderstorms cause anxiety to your cat, here are five tips to help you maintain a calm environment during the storm:
- Be Aware of Your Body Language When You’re Around Your Cat
If the storm makes you nervous then your cat is likely to pick up on that anxiety. Cats are masters as reading body language and they know when we aren’t behaving and moving like our normal selves. Be conscious of your movements and do your best to portray a calm demeanor.
- Provide Cozy Hideaways for Your Cat
The most comforting place for your cat during a storm may be to remain curled up and hidden. Provide several cozy hideaway options for him so he doesn’t have to hunker down under the bed or in the corner of the closet. An “A” frame or igloo style bed may provide just the right amount of comfort and security for an anxious cat. If you have some hideaways scattered around the house where you spend the most time, that might encourage your cat to stay in the room with you rather than duck under the bed in a room by herself.
- Comfort Your Cat but Don’t Reinforce Fear
You can pet and comfort your cat but do so in a way that sends a calming signal. If you coddle too much you may end up sending a reinforcement signal that says to your cat that he is right in being this anxious. You don’t want to reinforce the fearful behavior or reward it and this is a surprisingly easy mistake to make. We tend to do it often (think of how many times you petted and soothed your cat when he has hissed at the veterinarian).
- Pheromone Therapy for Cats
There are commercial pheromone products such as Comfort Zone, on the market that mimic the calming natural facial pheromones that cats have. Some people find that the products work well with their cats but some don’t. If you want to give it a try, you can buy the pheromone diffuser at your local pet product store or online.
- Anxiety Wraps
There is a pressure wrap called the Thundershirt that your cat can wear and it’s similar to the gentle pressure that provides a calming effect from swaddling. As with the pheromone therapy, some cat parents report that the wrap works well and others say it has no effect. If you do decide to try the anxiety wrap (available at your local pet product store), you need to give your cat time to adjust to it. Put it on your cat with light pressure and then distract him with some play. The wrap comes with a full set of instructions. Before shopping though, take your cat’s measurements so you’ll buy the right size. Sizing is based on weight and chest size.