It's natural for our cats to react to unexpected noises. They have extremely quick reflexes and their senses are highly developed. Those who have an excessive fear can develop aggressive or skittish behavior and have trouble interacting with other pets and people. They have trouble adjusting to their surroundings which can affect their quality of life. One of the factors that can cause this behavior is abuse. Cats that have had abusive backgrounds often display fear of noises. Abused cats should be given time to learn how to trust, and they should be in a quiet and calm environment.
There are steps that you can take help your cat to feel more secure in its environment. It takes time, but eventually your cat will be able to overcome these fears. Providing a safe hideaway in your home where the cat will not be disturbed can help them feel more secure. Whether this is something you provide, like a box or kitty condo, or whether this is a place the cat chose, make sure that you and your family leave the cat alone when it is in this area.
If your household changes or is very busy, this can be very scary for cats who haven't experienced this before. Let your kitty stay in a quiet room until it begins to get used to its surroundings. Keeping a radio on a low level in the room can help the cat to become accustomed to noises.
If you can control the noise that causes your cat to be fearful, it can really help the process. Be mindful of what those noises are (vacuum, doorbell) and make sure your cat feels secure. Some noises, of course, you can't control, like thunder. But, as I said last week, you can purchase CDs on the Internet to help your cat get desensitized to these noises. You could even record it yourself while the thunder is rolling.
Play the noise at a very low volume for about 15 seconds. Play with your cat in a positive and relaxing way. Stop the attention as soon as the noise stops. Wait a few minutes and repeat this. End the session and wait for at least a couple of hours before doing it again. When there is no visible sign of fear or distress, you can increase the volume slightly to make sure your cat gets used to the sound. Slowly wean your kitty off of these distractions and continue to praise your cat when it does not over-react to noises. If you can't get your cat to relax, just give them some time. When things calm down, they will come out and be fine.
I have a very loud sneeze which I've had to learn to tone down. This is what frightened Sammy the most. It was something I could control, thank goodness. He'll ignore the firecrackers, but not my sneeze. Go figure!! What noises makes your cat uncomfortable?
Marion Lovato is the author of Sam, the Superkitty. Her book describes an ordinary cat changing into a superhero to protect his family from things that go bump in the night. Available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1604588667