Cause of Fearful Cats

May be a lack of socialization

Researchers used a survey to find connections between feline fearfulness, aggression, and excessive grooming. The fearfulness factor included the cats’ reaction to strangers, sudden noises, and changes taking place at home. Aggression toward humans included scratching or attempts to bite in conjunction with care, such as when being brushed. Excessive grooming included intensive grooming and self-mutilation by pulling hairs out.

The investigators found a link between behavior and personality traits and almost 30 behavioral, environmental, and biological factors. For example, the socialization of cats with humans was associated with fearfulness. Cats who had contact with unfamiliar adults and children only a few times or never before the age of 12 weeks were more fearful than cats who met strangers on a weekly or daily basis. Fearful cats also received higher scores for litterbox issues, aggression, and excessive grooming.

Prior studies have shown that fearfulness is associated with aggressive behavior if a cat sees no other way out of a frightening situation, although no direct causalities can be established. The researchers concluded that there was less aggression and fearfulness in households with more than one cat, which may mean the companionship of other cats is an important stimulus for cats. More research is needed.ν

Mikkola,S., et al. Fearfulness associates with problematic behaviors and poor socialization in cats. iScience, 2022; 25 (10): 105265 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.105265