Cats are all-around weird and fun pets, sometimes behaving in a way that causes wonder and amusement especially if they suddenly freeze in place. When a threat is perceived, cats in general respond by choosing to flee, fight, or freeze but freezing can also mean they sense something interesting that caught them off guard.
Cats freeze up like a statue in response to a startling event like an unusual sound, people, or another animal. This either presents a threat or unfamiliarity.
Why does a cat freeze in place and what could be causing this behavior? More details will be discussed below to help you find an answer to your question.
Why Does My Cat Freeze Up?
What you are witnessing is one of the three expected responses of a cat to a stimulus. Cats choose to freeze when encountering one of these things:
- Loud noise or unusual sounds. This can be fireworks, thunder, an animal sound like a snake hissing or a dog growling.
- A stranger. Unfamiliar faces peering through the windows or passing by. It can also be a child or an aggressor who has done harm to your cat.
- Other animals or a predator. Your cat may have come across another animal in your premises that has caught your cat in surprise. It could be raccoons, otters, coyotes, or snakes and other small critters.
- An affliction. It is advisable to talk with your veterinarian when your cat freezes up and can’t move. This is comparatively different to when it freezes to observe or listen to something that serves as a threat or a curiosity in the cat’s surroundings.
Do Cats Freeze When Scared?
As confident as cats can get, they are smart enough to know when something should scare them stiff. Cats freeze up for other reasons too, but you can tell they are scared when they stiffen with dilated pupils and when the fur on their back are raised.
The cat may arch its back and raise its tail. It may hiss or bare its teeth. When cornered, they flee or fight.
They also freeze up to analyze their environment. What’s lurking and what’s making that sound? Is it danger or just something unfamiliar?
If your cat does this often around the house, there could be an animal lurking outside or inside your property.
Why Do Cats Freeze When They See Another Cat?
A cat freezing up around other cats could point to its lack of interaction with other cats growing up or a message to avoid conflict. Some cats are more confident over others and a fearful cat freezes in place as a way of conveying a message that they don’t want to engage in a fight.
This behavior can also point to an anxious cat. They freeze when they don’t have the option of fleeing or don’t want to engage in a fight. Anxious cats are easily startled around other cats, usually hunched and pressed low to the ground. Their eyes widen and dilate, they breathe rapidly, tremble, and keep their limbs closely tucked into their body.
Why Does My Cat Freeze around Dogs?
Cats and dogs don’t get along most of the times. Cats see dogs as a threat, a predator, as they are bigger in size and dogs see cats as prey.
A cat without exposure to dogs at a young age will be apprehensive around dogs and assume a defensive posture by crouching down. Dogs are playful in nature and will likely chase your cat in sight. Once the dog shows signs of aggression, the cat flees the scene after the initial reaction to freeze.
Why Does My Cat Freeze and Stare at Me?
Cats are such mysterious creatures that it makes you wonder what is going on inside their head. You may find your cat freezing up and staring at you from time to time. Note that cats are curious animals and they stare to watch what you’re doing.
Cats also stare as a cue for a reward. When they stare and you pet them, give them food, or play with them, the cat associates one of these acts as your reaction when they stop and stare at you. They have learned that by doing so, you will respond accordingly even if you have unintentionally trained them to it.
Why Is My Cat Stiff and Not Moving?
Be observant around your cat when it stiffens and stops moving all of a sudden. A cat assumes a different position when it’s startled and frozen in place as a response.
Some issues could be a sprain, cat bite abscess, wounds, and minor injuries. Your cat may show other signs of pain by limping, licking the area of wound, or refusing to be touched in certain parts of the body where it used to be a non-issue.
For older cats, arthritis is a common suspect. Symptoms include trouble walking, jumping, limited movement, and swelling of the joints. Make sure to be up to date with your veterinarian to help ease your cat’s discomforts.
Dr. Ivana Crnec recommends that the best supplements include chondroitin, glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid.
Why Do Cats Freeze When Grabbed by the Neck?
Scruffing is the term used to describe the action of grabbing a cat by the loose skin at the back of their neck. Older cats freeze when grabbed by the neck because they are put in a helpless position where they can’t escape. It also causes them pain as the weight of their body hangs on to that loose skin you hold on to.
Mother cats pick up their kittens by the scruff of their neck when moving them to new areas or keeping them within the safe zone of the nest. The kitten reflexively goes limp until released, and this is usually observed in younger cats whereas in older cats, it triggers stress and fear.
Cats freeze up like a statue because of a stimulus in their surroundings. Freezing is one of the three responses of a cat when they are startled, frightened, or threatened. They bide their time and observe. Their eyes are wide and pupils are dilated. They crouch low to the ground, with their hair raised. When an opportunity of escape presents itself, they flee. This could be a person or another animal that presents danger or unfamiliarity.