Sharing is caring!

What’s your Reaction?
+1
146
+1
26
+1
7
+1
3
+1
9
+1
0
+1
2

Cats are complex creatures, and even lifelong cat lovers can get mixed signals. Unless you’ve lived with a cat for a long time, you can easily misinterpret what a cat’s body language is truly saying.

For those who rescue cats, understanding their unique body language can be very tricky. It can mean determining which cat is a stray former house cat who is open to being petted. Or, it could be the cat only seems to be open. Yet, if you knew what the cat was feeling inside, it’s a different story.

Two Unexpected Cat Fear Responses

Cat advocate and educator Stephanie Merlin shares informative posts about improving the well-being of cats and the humans who care for them. 

“Cats deserve more than just food and shelter. They have rich emotional lives we need to honor. 🤲❤️” Merlin says.

In a post about cat fear responses, she explains why things may not be what they seem.

“🐾 It’s important to highlight the subtle nuances of cat behavior. Let’s talk about recognizing cat fear responses, often mistaken as acceptance. Understanding their body language, fear, anxiety, and stress cues is key. 🐱💬” shared The Fulfilled Feline.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline, fear responses in cats, fight, flight, fidget, freeze, 6

Images via Instagram/The Fulfilled Feline

 

We’ve all heard of “fight or flight,” an automatic primal fear response to a stressful and scary event. But as Merlin points out, a cat may have other lesser-known fear responses.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline, fear responses in cats, fight, flight, fidget, freeze, 5

Freeze Fear Responses

When a cat is in a scary situation like a shelter, a vet’s office, or a TNR trap, it might freeze in place. Indeed, freezing is eventually the only option in a humane trap or carrier. 

When a cat freezes, one might mistake that they are comfortable or open to being petted. But in reality, touch isn’t welcome, and it’s making the cat more stressed. 

On the other hand, if your companion cat is stressed at the vet’s office, your familiar touch and soothing words are usually comforting. It’s the vet’s office that’s scary, not your touch. Now, the vet’s touch is another story but unavoidable for a little while.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline, fear responses in cats, fight, flight, fidget, freeze, 4

Below, you can see how to recognize the freeze response.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline, fear responses in cats, fight, flight, fidget, freeze, 1

Fidgeting Fear Responses

As with people, cats may fidget when they’re anxious and scared. They may sniff around, groom themselves, and smack their lips.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline, fear responses in cats, fight, flight, fidget, freeze, 2

If a cat is fidgety, it might not appear scared. But as with people, it’s a coping mechanism. As someone pointed out, even purring can be an easily misinterpreted coping mechanism. Like the cat frozen in place with fear, they want their space.

Below are the signs to identify fidgeting fear responses.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline,

Simple Ways to Help the Cat

How should you help a cat with such fear responses? First, it’s helpful just to be aware of their body language’s subtle cues.

 Stephanie Merlin, The Fulfilled Feline,

Helping cats with fear responses could include simple things like:

  • Avoid making eye contact, which is threatening.
  • Focus on having a calming, loving voice and positive energy.
  • Being as non-threatening and respectful as possible. 
  • Give a cat their space, and don’t try to pet them.
  • Be supportive without expectations.
  • Let cats choose how they want to interact.
  • Listen with your intuition and heart to what a cat may be feeling inside (empathy).

Lastly, we might add that cats rescued through TNR are usually feral. As such, they will never want to be touched by a human -ever. And, that’s ok! Although we’d love to cuddle them all, the best reward is releasing them to their familiar territory having been spayed, neutered, and vaccinated.

A cat looks from inside a TNR trap, via Facebook/Cat Man Chris

A cat looks from inside a TNR trap, via Facebook/Cat Man Chris

You can see more insights at the Fulfilled Feline on Instagram and Facebook. Merlin also has a Behavioral and Emotional Wellbeing Resource Bundle to cultivate emotional awareness for your cat.

Featured image via Facebook/ Cat Man Chris

 

What’s your Reaction?
+1
146
+1
26
+1
7
+1
3
+1
9
+1
0
+1
2

Sharing is caring!