Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why is My Cat Scared All of a Sudden? Here Are 10 Possible Reasons

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Has your cat been acting strange lately? Maybe she’s been scared for no reason, or maybe she’s been hiding more than usual. If you’re wondering what could be wrong, here are 10 possible reasons why your cat might be scared. Keep in mind that not every cat will exhibit all of these behaviors, and some may show only a couple. If your cat is exhibiting several of these signs, it might be worth taking her to the vet to rule out any health problems.


The 10 Reasons Why Your Cat Might Be Scared

1. New People in the Home

If there are new people in your home, whether it’s a baby, a pet, or even just guests, that can be enough to scare your cat. She may not be used to the new smells and sounds, and it might take her some time to adjust.

cat hiding behind the curtain
Image Credit: llaszlo, Shutterstock

2. Changes in Routine

Cats like routine, so any changes to their normal schedule can be scary. If you’ve been working late or traveling more lately, your cat may be feeling insecure.

3. Loss of a Family Member

If another pet in the home has died or if there’s been a divorce or death in the family, that can upset your cat and make her feel scared.

shorthair cat lying on table, looking sad
Image Credit: 9lnw, Shutterstock

4. Being Picked Up

Many cats don’t like being picked up, and it can make them feel scared or even threatened. If your cat doesn’t want to be held, it’s best to respect her wishes.

5. Thunderstorms and Other Weather Changes

It has been suggested that cats are sensitive to changes in barometric pressure, which can cause them to be scared during a thunderstorm or other bad weather events. If your cat seems especially anxious during these times, try comforting her and making sure she has a safe place to hide.

scared British blue-point cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: zossia, Shutterstock

6. Sudden Movements

Cats are predators, so they’re naturally on the lookout for anything that might be a threat. If you make sudden movements around them, it can startle them and make them feel scared.

7. Being Alone

Some cats just don’t like being alone, and it can make them anxious or scared. If you’re going to be gone for a while, try leaving them with a friend or family member so they don’t have to be alone.

Old ginger cat resting on couch
Image Credit: shymar27, Shutterstock

8. Animals Outside Your Home

If there are other animals outside your home, whether they’re stray cats or just neighborhood dogs, that can make your cat feel scared. She may not want to go outside if she feels like there’s a threat nearby.

9. Loud Noises

Sudden loud noises can startle any animal, and cats are no exception. If there’s been a lot of construction in your neighborhood or if there have been fireworks recently, that could be why your cat is scared.

Just like with loud noises, cats can be scared by loud music or TV. If you’ve been playing your music loudly or watching TV with the volume up, that could be why your cat is acting scared.

A cat hiding under a couch
Image Credit:, Shutterstock

10. Not Feeling Well

Sometimes, cats can appear to be scared when in reality they’re not feeling well. If your cat is acting unusual and you can’t figure out why, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet to rule out any health problems.

Some cats just don’t like going to the vet, and it’s not uncommon for them to be scared when they are there, as well. If your cat is showing signs of illness, though, it’s important to take her regardless so she can get the care she needs.


The 11 Signs Your Cat Is Scared

1. Hiding More Than Usual

If your cat is suddenly hiding more than usual, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Cats like to have a place to hide when they’re feeling scared or threatened, so if your cat is spending more time in its hiding spot, it’s probably because she’s feeling scared.

If you no longer see your cat lounging around in sunny spots or perched atop high surfaces, this could be a sign that she’s feeling scared. Cats like to be up high so they can survey their surroundings and feel safe. If your cat is suddenly spending more time hiding under furniture or in small spaces, this could also be a sign that he’s feeling afraid.

cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: ivSky, Shutterstock

2. Increased Vocalization

Another sign that your cat is feeling scared is increased vocalization. If your cat is meowing more than usual, or if she’s making other strange noises, it’s possibly because she’s feeling scared.

3. Hissing or Growling

If your cat starts hissing or growling at you, it’s a sign that something may be wrong. Hissing and growling are both signs of fear in cats, so if your cat starts doing either of these things, it’s probably because she’s feeling scared.

cat hissing
Image Credit: yvonneschmu, Pixabay

4. Changes in Sleep Patterns

If your cat is sleeping more than usual, or if she’s having trouble sleeping, it could be a sign of stress or fear. Cats are creatures of habit, so any changes in their sleep patterns can be a sign that something is wrong.

5. Lack of Appetite

If your cat suddenly stops eating, or if she loses her appetite, it could be a sign of stress or fear. Cats can go off their food for a variety of reasons, but if your cat is acting otherwise normal, it’s possibly because she’s feeling scared.

cat not eating the food
Image Credit: Elena Kutepova, Shutterstock

6. Increased Aggression

If your cat starts acting aggressive towards you or other animals, it’s probably because it’s feeling scared. Aggression is a natural defense mechanism for cats, so if your cat feels threatened, she might lash out.

7. Dilated Pupils

If your cat’s pupils are dilated, that’s often a sign of fear.  Don’t approach or try to pet a cat with dilated pupils, as that can enhance their fear response.

a tabby mackerel cat hissing
Image Credit: strh, Pixabay

8. Fast Breathing

If your cat is breathing faster than normal, it’s a sign that it’s feeling scared. When cats feel threatened, the fight or flight response is activated, causing increased heart rate and faster breathing.

9. Flattened Ears

This can be another sign of fear in cats.

frightened tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Krivitskaya, Shutterstock

10. Trembling

If your cat is trembling or shaking, it’s a sure sign that something is wrong. Cats don’t normally tremble or shake, so if your cat is doing either of these things, it may be a sign she is scared, but it is definitely time to reach out to her vet.

11. Excessive Licking

If your cat is licking herself more than usual, it could be a sign of stress or anxiety. Cats often lick themselves when they’re feeling anxious or stressed, so if your cat is doing this, consider if she may be frightened.

cat licking paw
Image Credit: TeamK, Pixabay


Ways to Make Your Cat Feel Safe

If your cat is feeling scared, there are a few things you can do to help her feel better.

First, make sure that your cat has a safe place to hide. Cats like to have a place to retreat to when they’re feeling scared, so if your cat doesn’t have a hiding spot, create one for her. You can do this by putting a cardboard box in a quiet corner of your house, or by getting a cat tree with a hiding spot built into it.

Second, try to keep your cat’s environment as calm and stress-free as possible. Avoid loud noises and sudden movements, and make sure that there are no other animals in the house that might scare your cat. Third, provide your cat with plenty of food and water. A full stomach can help to ease a cat’s fears, so make sure that your cat always has access to fresh food and water.

Finally, try to spend some extra time with your cat. Cats are social creatures, and they often feel better when they’re around people. So, take some time to pet your cat, or to play with her. This will help to ease her fears and make it feel more secure.



As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why your cat might be scared. It’s important to recognize the signs that your cat is scared of and the reasons behind them. If you’re concerned about your cat’s behavior, it’s always best to talk to your vet and see if they can help you figure out what’s going on.

Featured Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets