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Noises and Places- Q&A










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 Feline Noise Phobias

What is it?

A noise phobia is a severe fear of a specific sound. The fear response is very complex physiologically involving a variety of areas of the feline brain. The more a cat is exposed to the fear-provoking stimulus, the more the reactive the cat may become, especially if the fear response is reinforced with attention or affection by well meaning pet parents who want to comfort the cat.

What causes noise phobias?

Noise phobias are common in animals, the most common stimuli being thunder, gunshots, and fireworks.

Fears progress into phobias when the pet has a genetic predisposition for fearfulness, or , has learned to be afraid, or has been traumatized by an extensive extreme situation such as a hurricane, tornado, house alarm, fireworks without being able to escape. When the cat panics and gets hurt, the cat may associate that pain with the noise stimulus.
This sensitivity can cause the cat to be reactive with a small dose of the feared noise.

What does it look like?

When the cat perceives a noise as threatening, the cat responds instinctively to survive by preparing to fight or escape.  The stress response is immediate with a surge in heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and metabolism.

What to do
  • Fear is relatively easier to prevent with positive, early socialization experiences.

  • Supervision and control can prevent excess exposure to a fear stimulus

  • The pet should not be exposed to the feared stimulus except during behavior modification sessions that help the pet learn to be confident and relaxed and accept the stimulus as neutral or positive.

  • The pet parent needs to learn how to appropriately manage the environment and the cat.

Ackerman L., Hunthausen, W., & Landsberg, G. (2003). Handbook of Behavior Problems of the Dog and Cat. London, England: Elsevier Science Limited.

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