A cat owner’s mood affects her cat. This is seen by the touching way cats will seek out and comfort owners that are sad. But this is also seen by the stress an angry or scared owner inflicts upon her cat.
Why Your Fear and Anger Affects Your Cat
Cats seem to be the ultimate mind readers. But what they are really doing is reading your body language. Cats evolved from a small African wild cat that was preyed upon by larger animals. This ancestor needed to be quiet to survive. That is why our house cats use precise body language and scent signals to silently communicate with each other. As such, they are acutely aware of the signals you are sending. If you are afraid, they will have reason to believe that something dangerous is around. So, they will be fearful. And, they will suffer the stress that comes with fear. They will be fearful even if what you are afraid of is what they might do.
How Your Anger Causes Problem Behaviors in Cats
A cat will feel stress if his owner is angry. This can even happen if you do not yell or stomp. Cats are that good at reading your body language. Seeing his owner tense is frightening to a cat. To sooth himself, he may spray. This is a cat’s way of comforting himself. Another way is chewing odd things such as plastic. If this makes his owner angry, the cat will suffer more fear, and can even suffer health problems. Many stress-related health problems can cause a cat to miss the litter box. And if that makes the owner angrier, the cat will feel even more fear, and possibly have more litter-box misses.
How Your Fear Affects Re-introducing Cats
Cat fights are terrifying. And they are even more terrifying when it’s your sweet, cuddly friend morphing into a beast. I get a lot of requests for help when this happens. After two cats in a household fight, they need time apart. Then they need to be re-introduced properly. Of course, I keep in mind the cats’ fear. But I also have to consider if the owner is frightened. If they are, I ask the frightened client to sit with her back turned to both cats while I work with them. I also ask that she use her phone or laptop as a distraction. When things are going well between the cats, the owner can take peeks. I have seen that if the person becomes afraid, so do the cats. I have to be very careful to desensitize the frightened person so as not to sabotage the re-introduction of the cats.
If you want to read more about stress in cats, you may also enjoy reading my blog on how to prevent or stop spraying.
Patience Fisher owns Patience for Cats LLC, a cat behavior business based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is Associate Certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Diploma of Feline Behavior Science Technology, and is a certified veterinary assistant. Check out her humorous YouTube video at her Patience for Cats channel. Visit her on Facebook at Patience for Cats.