Can cats sense thunderstorms?

There’s no denying that cats are more aware of their surroundings compared to their humans. Their sense of smell and hearing is far better than our own, helping them pick up on changes to the weather before we can.

Here’s exactly how our cats sense a storm and how to help them stay calm once the thunder’s started.

The signs of sensing a storm

Your cat might start to show signs of stress when a storm is on its way and typically show their fear by trying to find somewhere to hide until the storm passes. Some cats will have a strong fear response where they may show a raised coat and bushy tail, sometimes even hissing at anything or anyone.

Remember: Don’t try to handle or hold your cat when they’re like this as they might become aggressive and more stressed.

Colleague pet watch:

“Before the last big thunderstorms we had, Poppy came creeping into the living room, belly flat to the floor, to hide with us around five minutes before the storm even started! We were so confused about what was making her panic before we heard the first rumbles.”

 cat looking fearful

The science behind their behaviour

For centuries, cats were used on ships as an early warning system for any impeding weather changes and the sailors would plan accordingly. Back then it was thought that a cat’s ability to predict major storms was because of a supernatural ability but now we know they’re just reacting to the changes in the atmosphere.

Beyond the thunder, howling winds, or pounding rain that might come with a storm, our cats can easily detect such shifts in pressure and the electrical charges around them.

Did you know? Sailors once thought that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails.

How to keep a cat calm and safe during thunderstorms

Your cat might panic when a storm is on its way so keeping an eye on the week’s weather forecast can help you plan accordingly and help keep your feline friend safe if thunder is promised.

Keep them indoors

If you know that a storm is coming, try keeping your cat indoors or bring them in as soon as one starts as this can help keep them safe and dry.

Remember: Getting your cat microchipped and making sure the information is kept up to date can help ensure you’re reunited if they are spooked by the storm and get lost.

Block out the outside

Having the TV or radio on can help provide alternative noise so that any loud claps of thunder are not as noticeable and are therefore less alarming while drawing the curtains can block out any flashing from the lightning.

Colleague top tip:

“The music I found most effective is classical and can help soothe the situation.”

Create a safe place

Try creating a safe place for your cat to retreat to or try providing some additional comfortable hiding spaces. Igloo beds or cardboard boxes can be great places to hide from a storm rather than cowering under the bed.

Remember: Cats are determined creatures, try and make sure that they can’t access any unsafe spaces.

Try a pressure wrap

Like swaddling a baby, a thunder wrap, vest, jacket, or shirt applies gentle, constant pressure to your cat’s chest and back, helping release calming hormones and endorphins. They’re said to help in just about any situation where your cat is likely to feel anxious like during a storm, fireworks, trips to the vet, and more.

Top tip: Try getting your cat into their wrap before the storm starts.

Speak to your vet

Speak to your vet if your cat gets extremely agitated during thunderstorms as they may be able to recommend medication or a natural remedy for pets.

Don’t forget: If you are an Animal Friends cat (or dog!) customer, you can speak with the vet experts at Joii for free.

Remember: Never discipline your cat for any behaviours they exhibit during a storm as this will only add to their stress.

Do you have any top tricks or tips when it comes to calming your feline friend when the storms start? Share these with us on our Facebook or Twitter page and help other owners just like you!

Looking for more cat advice?

We’ve written some handy cat advice guides, to help you unlock the secrets of your mysterious moggy.


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Cat insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your cat gets injured or falls ill.


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As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
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