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My cat is almost a year old and has suddenly started freaking out at the smallest movement or sounds.

He's been living with me in the same apartment for as long as he's been alive. He's used to everything. The hair dryer, the door bell. Nothing scared him except the vacuum. All of a sudden, last week, we are playing in the living and he jumped up and ran away. He stood in the hallway all puffed up and hissing, but I just figured I did a sudden movement that scared him. But then a few days he was near me on the sofa, which he always sleeps on, and he stayed starring for a few seconds and freaked out again. He seems more stressed than usual and strays away from the living area.

I have no idea what is happening.. Please help.

  • Is it possible that another cat, or a dog, is nearby when this happens? Perhaps you have a new neighbour. – mhwombat Jun 18 '16 at 17:14
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The possibilities that occur to me are, in no particular order:

  1. You cat hears (or smells) something you can't. This could be another animal close by, or a high-pitched sound. Perhaps you have a new neighbour with a pet, or other animals are able to get near your apartment.

  2. Something frightened your cat, and now he is afraid of something that he associates with the frightening event. This could be a location, a sound, a movement, for example. But if I understand your description correctly, the two times where the cat freaked out don't have much in common except that both events were in the living room, but maybe you can figure out a connection.

  3. Your cat has a health problem. Any new, unusual behaviour on the part of a pet indicates that a vet visit may be in order. I don't know how severe the "freaking out" was except that you said your cat was puffed up and hissing. Cats do that sort of thing once in a while, but two episodes in short succession would concern me. If a third happened, I would definitely go to the vet. And if there was more to it than puffing up and hissing, for example, if the cat seems dazed, his eyes are unfocused, he seems nervous for a while after the incident, or something else about him seems "off" to you, I would suggest a trip to the vet now.

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  • I want to add two more sounds cats can hear but humans (almost) not: this whistles you can train dogs with and this sound-producing systems to scare martens away from cars/garages. Both I can imagine to irritate cats. – Allerleirauh May 28 '19 at 8:46

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