Our cat is 3 years old, and for the last year and a half or so, she became very stressed out regarding any unexpected little noise. For instance, grazing a cardboard, coughing, the creasing of a paper, even the sound of fabric when crossing legs sometimes. She will either just jump, or, more often, run away as quickly as possible. But she will also calm down in a matter of seconds.

But she isn't afraid of noise per se. She doesn't care that much about a vacuum cleaner noise, loud music, lot of unknown people talking loudly in the room (in which case she'll come and stay around us). Even when she travels, with her in a bag, and in loud places (train stations for instance), she is rather calm, and more curious than wary.

We live in a rather calm place, and we never heard any external noise that seemed to scare her. We both work, and when we come back home she is usually rolling on the floor asking to be pet. She isn't a very cuddly cat, but can spend dozens of minutes on our lap, purring (especially when she is hungry). She also loves to play, although we could play with her more (we both work, and we play with her for a few minutes most of evenings).

The only stress-related event that happened to her was one time another cat that came to her territory (a rooftop terrace of a 50m² flat). It lasted a few weeks, maybe 2 years ago, but his owner was comprehensive of the situation and prevented him to wander there.

So, apart from these noises that make her very stressed out for a few seconds, she seems perfectly happy. Any idea what could be causing this, and what we could do to make her more serene?


1 Answer 1


If your cat is okay in noisy environments, then it sounds like she is afraid of sudden, unexpected noises. This is fairly normal (for all animals) because a sudden, unexpected noise could be a predator or intruder.

One thing that has helped with my cats in the past is to give them some low background noise, such as a radio or TV. This drowns out most short, soft, unexpected noises that aren't actually a threat.

Think of a jungle or other environment that a wild cat inhabits: there is usually background noise from insects, birds, etc. and the cat doesn't react to them; they're actually comforting because it means everything is normal. Only noise above the background is significant. If the birds and insects suddenly get quiet, then every noise that breaks the silence is significant.

  • 1
    Oh, right, now that you mention it it seems obvious (or at least logical). I had the exact opposite way to think : maybe there were lots of noise during the day, that stressed my cat out, that's why she was wary of any unexpected noise. But it may be the exact opposite (and way more plausible since I live in a quiet place) : that she lives in a really calm situation 10 hours per day, got used to it, and now, any unexpected noise seems way more alarming. Anyhow, I put a playlist of natural sounds for today, I'll do that for a while, let's see if it helps. Thanks !
    – Tahn
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:36
  • 1
    So, after a few month, thanks to a certain virus, where my cat was nearly never alone at home, here is the update. There was no changes with the peaceful nature music (that lasted for a month or so before my significant other and I had to stay at home). And right now, she is still scared of random noises (but instantaneously seems "forget" and become calm again). Maybe a tad less than before, but not significant changes. I'll just put it as her natural temperament, to be easily scared.
    – Tahn
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 13:30
  • @Tahn Thanks for the update, and I’m sorry it didn’t help. Maybe discuss with your vet the next time you’re in and see if they have any other ideas.
    – StephenS
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 18:11

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