You see the storm coming in and you’re so thankful for the refreshing rain. But you also get apprehensive because it creates a major challenge for your household: your cat is bound to start acting out. Not all cats get scared, but the ones that do, it can have huge consequences.
So, just how exactly do you calm your cat during a thunderstorm? Well, thankfully there are some ways, and it’s up to you to see which is the most effective to help your own cat. Here’s the guide…
How to calm a cat during a thunderstorm
There are many effective ways to assist your cat in that stressful situation and you can start preparing even before the thunderstorm hits. From managing your own actions to using wearable remedies, you can take back some control of the situation.
Ways to calm your cat when there’s thunder
When you do realize your cat is suffering during the storm, try and minimize the impact with some of the following.
Handy Hint: Note your cat’s reaction over time, so you can see which methods work best for your particular cat. Then, be ready with that remedy the next time the clouds drift in.
1. Prepare your cat when you know what’s coming
You can start helping your cat even before thunder arrives by watching weather channels and keeping an eye on the sky on days you know may result in bad weather.
You’ll know to be ready with the remedies discussed below, preventing your cat’s anxiety from escalating before you take action. The sooner you help him or her, the easier it will be to calm them.
You may even consider staying home on a day you know there will be a vicious storm. This isn’t always practical but can prevent him or her hurting themselves if they’re home alone when the thunder starts.
Did You Know? Cats might be able to hear thunder approaching from as far as 50 miles away, so look for signs with her too.
2. Make your cat feel safe and secure before, during, and after the storm
When your cat gets anxious about the approaching storm, it will want to hide in a safe space. This can be its bed or a comfy spot on the couch or even under the blanket on your bed. Make sure such a space is available for your cat indoors, away from the wind, rain and lightning, so he or she can easily feel some sense of security.
3. Re-assure your cat with the right words and actions
Whilst cats can’t speak English, they can understand certain words and actions, particularly those which help and comfort them when they're in pain, and they show affection in many ways.
You’ll be tempted to cuddle your cat when the storm hits, hoping that your presence will bring calm. Don’t rush into that though as it could exacerbate the situation if the cat views the cuddling as a reward for its actions.
So, offer calmness but don’t overdo it.
Also, don’t think that yelling at your cat for acting out will help. This can increase anxiety. You need positive reinforcement of the right behavior.
For example, try massaging your cat to calm it down and reward the cat with a treat when it’s not howling or shivering anymore.
4. Try to distract your cat from the thunderstorm
It may be difficult to get a stressed cat’s attention but try and get them to play or engage with another much-loved activity. Perhaps your cat likes to watch TV with you? It will be much easier to engage with him or her if you try this before the storm hits, so your kitty doesn’t have time to get over stimulated or scared.
Keep it distracted during the worst of the storm, to manage its stress levels.
5. Distraction can come in the form of alternative noise
Since noise can play a part in scaring cats, drown out some of it. You can play calming music at a volume that’s louder than the storm sounds.
White noise can also work or search online for audio specifically created for calming down cats.
6. Wrap your cat up, perhaps in a thunder jacket
Physical pressure can help your cat feel a little more secure. This you can give in the form of a wearable item, often called a thunder jacket. You can purchase one on Amazon, or simply wrap the cat tightly but still comfortable with a scarf that crisscrosses its body.
If your cat has long hair, it may be the static affecting her more, in which case anti-static jackets can help. Even if you simply wipe them down with anti-static laundry sheets you may minimize the effect the static in the air has on the cat.
Some cat owners even find that a cap made of one layer of fabric can help, by covering the cats’ eyes. Other owners have seen that earmuffs also work.
By minimizing what your cat sees or hears, it can prevent over-stimulation and let lightning seem less intrusive. These accessories help them handle all the visual and auditory stimuli a bit better.
7. Think about your own behavior’s effect on your cat
While you’re busy tending to your cat, how exactly are you feeling? Remember, cats are very intuitive and aware of what people feel. If you’re feeling stressed as well, it could increase the cat’s anxiety levels during a thunderstorm.
Even if you do feel a bit tense, don’t let your actions make it too obvious:
- Use a calm tone of voice
- Never shout
- Don’t fuss too much about what your cat is doing; take note of it, but don’t focus all your energy on it
- Try and go about the day as normal
- Decide before the storm which remedies you’ll try so you’re confident in your next steps; give your cat the chance to follow your lead in staying in control of the situation
8. Considering medicating your ca with vet supervision
Some cats are extremely anxious and a storm may simply increase stress levels that are already high. Some of the remedies mentioned above may not be enough to help them manage a thunderstorm without acting out.
For them, you may need to request from your vet. There are anti-anxiety medications on the market and some of it is natural, so won’t cause any side effects. For example, cat pheromones or lavender products have helped many families solve their anxious-cat challenges.
9. Desensitize when the storm is over
Your options don’t stop when the storm ends. On a normal day you can still help your cat handle storms a bit better by desensitizing it.
If your cat is also scared of fireworks and other loud noises, it’s possible that the sound of the storm is the main problem. You can try and make the cat used to those sounds, by playing recordings of it. Start with it at low volume, play it daily and increase the volume every few days.
Watch your cat’s reaction and also reward it for listening to it without acting out.
Over time, you may empower your cat to stay calm, even in the midst of a storm raging outside.
Why are cats afraid during a storm?
The exact reasons for why cats fear thunder isn’t known. Cats may also differ, so what terrifies your cat could be unique from your neighbors’. In general, experts suspect some or all of the following could influence your kitty:
- The sound of the storm, often at frequencies you can’t hear yourself
- A change in air pressure
- The visual impact of lightning
- Static buildup that could cause shocks
Cats simply experience these features without knowing the reason for it. This can make them feel out of control and scared.
How to know your cat is stressed during a storm
As a pet owner it’s wise to get to know your cat’s habits, so you can identify when he or she is in distress. If you don’t know it’s sparked by the storm, you won’t be able to prevent it or handle the situation correctly to benefit both you and the cat.
With bad weather you may notice them shaking or howling. However, their reactions may be less obvious too, such as nuzzling and pawing you. Others will hide away or showcase destructive behavior.
For those with anxious pets, knowing how to calm your cat during a thunderstorm is essential. Whilst some cats are fine with it, the ones who hate thunder will be extremely scared, and this can cause huge issues.
If the tips on calming your cat above don’t work, seek professional advice from your vet.