by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
With the change in weather patterns our cats are increasingly exposed to thunderstorms. There are different aspects of a storm which affect cats.
First there is the change in atmospheric pressure that causes the storm. Cats pick up on changes in weather pattens far earlier than we do, so you may find your cat already indoors and settled in a safe place before the storm begins.
The most alarming part of the storm is thunder. With their very sensitive hearing, it is really difficult for cats to deal with this volume of noise easily.
While lightening may not affect cats directly, it generates a flash that can startle them. It is also a precursor to thunder; cats that have made the connection will immediately anticipate the noise. A lightening strike near by will be scary from sound, light and heat if there is a fire.
The wind will irritate their ears too, as it creates new sounds and masks old, as well as changing the direction of sounds. Cats that are outdoors dislike having their fur ruffled.
Rain can upset cats in two ways, noise as it hits surfaces such as roofs or vehicles, and the fact that it is wet and usually cold.
When there is a storm approaching it is time to prepare a safe space for your cat. It is important to let them hide if that is how they feel safe. Create a soft and warm place that will help to muffle the sound; in or under the bed, in a cupboard or cat igloo. Close the curtains of the room to help reduce the impact of sound and light. If your cat prefers to be with you then create a space near you and comfort her.
Natural calming remedies can help; Calmeze, Happy Cat, Rescue Remedy, Feliway, PetCalm, or other homeopathic products. TTouch and wraps help to comfort nervous cats.
Playing with her is a good way to use your cat’s energy, create happy endorphins, remove some of the stress and take the focus away from the storm. Any game that includes running or movement is good. Not all cats will play but this is something that should be tried.
Our attitude in the build-up and during the storm has an impact on the reaction of our cats; they also learn from each other so one cat can change the focus of the storm for all cats in the household. Stay calm and reassure the cats that it will pass; there is sufficient food and more interesting things to do than to hide.
It is possible to desensitise your cat to the sound of thunder and rain; however this is only a small part of a real storm. For extremely fearful cats, desensitising may make it easier to deal with the other aspects as mentioned above.