CattyCorner: How To Help Your Thunderstorm Scaredy Cat

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on August 18, 2020

Greetings, my pawsome human minions and cat cohorts.

I’m going to tell you something that might surprise you about me.

And this isn’t a secret I need out in the world, but I’ll tell you, trusted cat lovers… I love kittens.

I’d be heartless not to, right? Those baby whiskers and round tummies make this crabby tabby purr. Like I said, not a secret I need widely known, so don’t tell anyone. But it is always a great joy when I get a minute with a kitten and I had a stormy afternoon with one recently.


Now, the minute went on a LONG while and I was glad to see his mother at storm’s end, but it was a pleasant surprise in my day.

The tiny tabby kitten had gotten separated from his mom in a trek through some bushes and it so happened an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in while he and mom were hunting for each other.

Lost from his mom under the hail of thunder and lightning, the little boy was crying in the yard so I plucked the little fellow out of the bushes. We made it back to my dry spot on the porch just as the clouds opened and the rain released upon the world.

cat scared thunder

Every rumble from the sky found the little orange floof snuggling deeper into my fur. Through his shivering, his little voice asked, “Forrest, when I grow up, will I still be scared of thunderstorms?”

I told him I didn’t think so and he burrowed in tighter as he said, “I want to be brave like you when I’m grown up.”

My reply?  “You will be, little one.”

With that, he finally drifted off for a nap, but he got me thinking.

Quite a good number of us tough cats have the thunderstorm weakness.

cats thunderstorm anxiety

Helping Thunderstorm Anxiety in Cats

One of my best buds from the colony, bless my stripes and spots, he sure could whip down a dog. Even the big slobbery ones who mean a cat no good. That tom had no fear of their teeth and snarls. But let the sky go gray and start rolling with the booms and he was reduced to a pile of quivering fur.

He’d find somewhere so deep to hide, you wouldn’t see him until the sky had returned to blue for hours. So, thanks to that gruff tom, the kitten, and their thunderstorm worries, I bring you humans some tips to help your scaredy cats deal with thunderstorm anxiety.

cats scared thunder

Give these tips a try to help thunderstorm anxiety in cats: 

  • Keep scared cats inside during rainstorms. If the sky is going grey, bring in the cat!
  • Help kitty stay calm buy remaining collected and cool. Offer peaceful reassurances and some treats too.
  • Set up a cozy cave for scaredy cats, somewhere dark and with dampened sound. A pillow fort draped in a blanket would be a purrfect setup. Or maybe even a cardboard box draped and lined with cushy comfort. You know what your cat finds the most comfortable, so think from that angle while building a thunderstorm cave.
  • If your cat doesn’t want to hide alone, give her your lap as a safe haven to weather the storm. This is a win for everyone, comfort for the kitty and snuggles for you.
  • At the shelter, staff used to use sprays and electric things that put out this great peaceful smell. They called them calming pheromones and the smell of them made this boy feel nice and easy. For the cats that really got worked up, staff would wipe them down with cloths doused in the pheromones. This could help your cat’s thunderstorm anxiety too.
  • Thundershirts and anxiety wraps can give cats relief too, but I’ve not had experience with them. Consider this option if you think your cat will tolerate wearing something. Some of us won’t. PERIOD. I’m not a clothes wearer; I’ll show my teeth over a costume, but I will say enjoy checking out other kitties who enjoy fashion.

It’s also worth pointing out, fear can make cats lash out. Look for fear cues in the form of swinging paws and hissing. Some cats are too tough to hide, some want to fight the fear. So, watch and see if your kitty gets feisty during a storm.

thunderstorm anxiety cats

Check out the video below and play this relaxing music fo your cat during a thunderstorm.

I have to go now; the kitten’s mom is supposed to arrive at any moment. We’ve got a dinner date. Turns out she likes a tom who’s good with kittens.

So, with that, I remind you, don’t forget to feed the cat.

Feature Image: @felcityfelines/Instagram

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