Understanding Your Scaredy Cat

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Does your new kitten hide under the bed? Do your adult cats disappear when visitors ring the doorbell? Does the new puppy send your kitty into hiss-terics? Learning why cats act scared helps you know how to avoid fear triggers.

Scaredy cats react with fear to unfamiliar people, places or situations, because if they haven't had a good experience, they assume the worst. Many kittens are clueless, but as the cat matures, this "stranger danger" behavior protects them so they don't walk up to hungry critters, dogs or people.

Cats identify friends by smell. But if they haven't cheek-rubbed, groomed or slept together, strangers "smell funny" and therefore are suspect. Cat that are used to only women may fear men with lower voices or with beards. Kids move and sound differently than adults do and can be scary to cats. New dogs or cats often intimidate them, especially when the kitten has never seen a dog before!

A strange environment turns up feline nerves because the boogeyman might lurk in some unknown spot. Your cat won't know the escape routes or safety zones, so fear becomes the default emotion.

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