Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language: Why Is My Cat Acting Strange and Scared?

Your once sleepy and moody cat started to act weird. Before we can do anything to ease them, let’s find out what could be making them behave this way.

Cats become scared and act strange due to stress brought on by changes in the home and their health.

A scared cat acting strange means many things. What are the signs and what could be stressing your cat? Let’s understand more about cats’ body language.

How Can I Understand My Cat’s Body Language?

Because we can’t understand what our cats are trying to tell us, the best we can do is read their body language. It takes a trained eye to do it but, on the list below compiled by Dr. Dan Brennan, let’s note what you can watch out for when your cat is scared:

  • Dilated pupils. Your frightened cat will be very alert and watchful of its surroundings, usually its pupils dilated. When it’s constricted, they feel threatened and are ready to attack.
  • Flattened or rapidly moving ears. The ears are lowered to their head. It also moves around as a way of detecting the noise they hear.
  • Tense body. Your cat crouches to the ground, ready to flee. They also arch their back and let their fur stand on end.
  • Curled or rigid tail. The tail is stiff and parallel to the ground, it can also be raised. For a perceived threat that intends to grab it, your cat curls the tail.

Read: Signs Your Cat Hates You and How to Fix It?

What Are the Signs of a Cat Being Scared?

When it comes to identifying a scared cat, behavioral signs overlap with that of an angry and stressed cat. Does your cat exhibit more than one of the signs listed below?

  • Cats tuck their limbs tightly close to their body. Their ears are pulled back and they hide their paws and tail under the stomach, with their neck closely tucked into their shoulders.
  • They are skittish and hide often. They retreat into a corner or under furniture, somewhere they can’t be bothered and frightened.
  • They flee, fight, or freeze. When responding to a situation, they avoid it entirely or are paralyzed on the spot. They show aggression when cornered with their pupils dilated, the fur on their backs raised, and their back arched.
  • They make a noise. In a state of fear, cats meow a lot to indicate they are scared. They hiss, growl, or yowl depending on how the cat expresses itself around the owner.

Read: Where Can to Declaw Cat for Free?

Why Is My Cat Acting Strange?

There are a few reasons why your cat is acting strange. It may be what you think it is or something unexpected. Is it something health-related or a major change at home?

  • A new member in the house. Each cat reacts differently to changes. This new member in your house could be a new baby or a child. You might have welcomed a new pet thinking your cat is lonely. Another likelihood is that a stray animal has been lurking around your property.
  • A loss of a family member. Family members include both your family and pet companions. Owners share their stories online of how their felines started acting strange when a longtime friend passed away. They are unsettled by the loss.
  • An illness or an injury. Cats are good at hiding their pain because it is a survival trait to mask vulnerability. Many symptoms point to a sick cat but a general lack of appetite and thirst and unable to self-groom are common symptoms of an illness.
  • Someone or something is causing your cat stress and fear. There are people and places that are provoking your cat’s strange behavior. Finding out who or what is going to be difficult. Make sure to observe your cat properly when around people. It can be sounds in your neighborhood and things they are seeing.

Why Is My Cat Randomly Scared and Hiding?

Cats hide because of startling noise and around new people. If you have brought home a new cat, it’s expected that it will get scared and will hide the moment they see a good spot.

The sudden sound of a doorbell can also send your cat scurrying behind the furniture. They have sensitive hearing and are ten times more likely to be bothered by all the noise going on around the house.

When there are new people around, they may not like the unfamiliar presence in their territory. Be observant and try to locate what specifically is driving them to behave like this randomly.

Read: Why Having a Cat Helps You Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Why Is My Cat Scared and Staring at Nothing?

There are odd moments when we find our cats staring into space. It does feel odd when they stare at nothing and express fearful language.

When we think it’s utterly silent, your cat pauses and stares at nothing to process information. It’s hearing something beyond our human comprehension. It’s not a ghost. The sound could have been so sudden and thus frightened your cat.

Take note that cats also have excellent vision which means they can focus on visuals they cannot comprehend. The unfamiliarity scares them.

Read: Why Do People Love Their Bengal Cats So Much?

Why Is My Cat Acting Jumpy and Scared?

One thing to investigate when your cat starts to get jumpy is if there are major changes in the house. They get jumpy and scared around new people and pets, have a traumatic past, an illness they are dealing with, or something is terrorizing your feline.

When it comes to bringing changes around the house, consider how your cat is going to react. An energetic child or a dog can startle your cat. If not, it could be that they are frightened by another animal lurking around your property.

Pain could also be a factor. Your cat could be suffering from a parasitic attack or a health condition that is causing them to be skittish and jumpy.

For adopted and rescued cats, certain movements provoke fear. Yelling and raising a hand on your cat make them relive the trauma they could have gone through.

Read: What Makes Bengal Cats So Special?

How Do I Make My Cat Feel Safe?

As the owner, you are the true head of the household and are responsible for making a safe and secure home for your cat. Here are the things you can do to ease your cat’s fears:

  • Play with them frequently. Establish a routine of engaging with their physical and mental gears to build their confidence.
  • Provide your cat with personal safe space. Build or buy them a small home away from all the foot traffic and ruckus outside of the house.
  • Be calm and patient. Avoid scolding and holding threatening poses at your cat such as raising your fist.
  • Allow your cat to come around when it wants. Nicole Larocco-Skeehan, a certified animal trainer, warns that forcing an interaction with a nervous cat is not a good idea and the best thing you can do is allow your cat some space.


Cats don’t adapt well to changes and exhibit strange behavior and even fear around these changes. These changes could be happening inside and outside of your home such as a new pet or a child. An illness or an injury also provokes fear and strange behavior in your feline.

Scroll to Top