Cats are sensitive to many different sounds, and they often startle easily. When cats don’t like a noise, it is easy to tell. Usually, if a cat is upset by a specific sound, it will react by acting very jumpy and will run out of the room. This is why they get the nickname “scaredy-cat.”
To avoid upsetting your cat, you may start to take note of which sounds seem to most upset your feline. As a general rule, sudden and loud noises bother cats. Also, cats do not like noises they cannot understand. It’s sure to annoy your cat when they can’t figure out where a noise is coming from.
While it is thoughtful to avoid upsetting your cat with loud noises, it is also healthy to start conditioning them at a younger age not to be as afraid of certain sounds.
It can be very inconvenient to have a cat that runs and hides whenever a loud car drives by on the street. To condition your cat, you have to let them be exposed to loud noises and learn to dissociate the noise with something scary or bad.
Noises That Cats Hate
Below is a list of noises that bother cats. Some you may be aware of, but not all of these!
1. Pots and Pans Banging Together
While you are cooking dinner, you may accidentally clank together a pot or pan, and this is a noise that is sure to set your cat off.
Sometimes people advise banging pots and pans together on purpose when you need to discipline your cat, as they will avoiding doing the bad behavior to avoid the banging noise.
The blender is a very loud and shrill appliance that can be very disruptive and upsetting for a cat. Your cat does not understand the noise, but they know that they do not like it.
3. Dropping Books or Heavy Objects
The reason cats don’t like when you drop a heavy book or another object because the sound is very unexpected and will shake the floor.
Cats have short legs and are much closer to the floor than a human, so they can feel the vibrations of the ground shaking.
The sound of a balloon popping is enough to rattle anyone’s nerves, but it bothers cats. Watching a balloon pop is a frightening process for them, as they do not understand the science behind why the balloon explodes while making a loud noise.
They also may dislike balloons because they conduct a lot of static, and your cat may feel that static if they brush up against the balloon by accident.
5. The Sound Of Someone Humming
Cats dislike any low-pitched humming noises because they cannot figure out where the sound is coming from. If you try humming near your cat, you might notice their ears twitch back in confusion as they try to figure out the source of the sound.
Cats rely heavily on their senses to protect themselves, and it is a safety mechanism for them to figure out where a noise is coming from and what is making a sound.
6. Setting Off Fireworks
Cats dislike fireworks because they often explode at a deafening decibel, which sounds even louder to our cats than it does to us. Some cats get so spooked by fireworks they will try to run away, so be careful to keep them in your house during major firework holidays like the Fourth of July.
7. Crinkling Of Plastic Bags
Your cat dislikes this noise because it resembles a crinkling or hissing sound. Cats associate all hissing with something that is a potential threat. Your cat might start acting agitated when this happens, as they are trying to communicate their stress to you.
8. Bubble Wrap
When someone pops bubble wrap, it makes an earsplitting noise that sounds similar to fireworks. This is especially startling for a cat who might accidentally walk across a piece of bubble wrap and unintentionally pop it themselves.
9. Hairspray Or Any Aerosol Can
Hairspray usually comes out with a loud hissing noise, which is a triggering sound for cats. Typically, they associate all hissing with danger or a threat to startle when they hear this noise and rush to hide.
10. Tin Foil
Cats dislike tin foil, both for the sound it makes and because of its shiny metal texture. It is a substance that they cannot understand, and because of this, it bothers them.
Typically cats will avoid walking near it or on tinfoil at all costs, partially to prevent it from making a crinkly noise.
If you have to rip a piece of tin foil, try to leave the room or tear it discreetly to avoid upsetting your cat. Otherwise, it’s likely the sight of the tin foil alone will send your cat scurrying out of the room!
11. The Sound Of The TV Turning On
This makes a high-pitched “tinny” noise that is very annoying for your cat. This is usually a sound that is inaudible for humans but is at a decibel that bothers cats. If you put your ear very close to the screen, sometimes you can hear a faint glimpse of what it sounds like for your cat.
12. The Release Valve Of An Instant Pot
These new kitchen gadgets make delicious meals, but they are not your cat’s favorite appliance! The release valve makes a loud hissing noise when releasing steam from the instant pot, which bothers a cat’s sensitive ears. Try to do this while your cat is not in the room to avoid upsetting them!
13. Fluorescent Lightbulbs
While humans cannot hear this frequency, cats can hear a noise emitting from fluorescent lightbulbs. It’s a high enough frequency that it is very annoying for your feline.
Imagine a very faint but irritating buzzing sound constantly taking place in the background if you are having trouble picturing it.
Due to this, you might notice your cat quickly runs out of the room when you go to turn on one of these lightbulbs. Now you know that is because the sound of the lightbulb is really what bothers them!
14. Loud Arguments Or Yelling
The sound of their owner yelling or fighting with someone is also a noise that cats do not like to hear. Cats are very aware of tone, and they can quickly pick up on when people are angry or fighting.
While it may not seem like a big deal, cats are very sensitive to their home environments and dislike chaos. Living in a home where there is constantly much screaming or yelling can give a cat chronic anxiety.
Thunderstorms bother cats because they create a loud noise accompanied by a change in air pressure, which your cat can sense.
This is often a warning sign for animals that danger is coming, putting them on high alert. This is an evolutionary trait for cats who used to live outside in the wild, as it was essential for them to be aware when bad weather was coming and seek shelter.
While not all cats seem bothered by thunderstorms, this can be a very inconvenient phobia for your cat if you live in a place where it rains often.
If your cat is greatly affected by the sound of thunderstorms, you can try playing soothing classical music to calm them down. Other people recommend playing a white noise sound machine to distract your cat from noticing the bad weather.
16. The Whistle Of A Tea Kettle
The whistle of a tea kettle is a high-pitched noise that can bother your cat and cause anxiety. Their hearing is more advanced than humans, so high-frequency noises are louder and more irritating for them.
17. Any Siren
While you certainly cannot predict when a police siren or tornado siren might go off, it is sure to be a noise that your cat despises, thanks to their loud volume and urgent tone.
When unpredictable sounds occur, try to pet your cat and keep them calm. This will help reassure them that they are safe from harm’s way.
Additionally, if you live on a busy street or in a town where there is a lot of street traffic, it is worth working with your cat to train them to disregard the noise of sirens and other street noise.
To do this, you can try giving your cat treats or small bites of meat whenever a siren goes by. Over time, your cat will look forward to the treat they know is coming and not feel as scared by the noise.
Usually lawn mowers make a really loud noise when they start running, which can easily spook a cat. Also, some lawnmowers throw up pieces of grass and debris as they go through the yard, and this is also something that may scare your cat.
If you have a cat that enjoys being outside in your yard, move them into your house before starting the lawnmower. Not only is this so the noise does not bother them, but it is not safe for them to be underfoot while a lawnmower is running either.
19. Packing Tape
The loud ripping noise that packing tape makes is frightening to most cats because of the volume level and unusual tone of the noise. This sound will send your cat running to hide under the bed, so if you need to pack anything, do it in a room where you can close the door and keep your cat out.
20. Vacuum Cleaners
The vacuum cleaner is a scary-looking device for a cat, and your cat does not understand why it makes such a loud sucking noise. Your cat may also notice that it picks up things off the floor so that they will run as far away as possible from it out of fear.
21. The Sound Of The Phone Ringing
This sound can be shrill and startling, especially if a phone goes off while your cat is sound asleep in a nearby room. Try turning down the ringtone level or putting your phone on vibrate whenever possible, as this is much more peaceful for your cat.
The swirling and cleaning cycles on a dishwasher may be startling for a cat, as the noise is not a consistent sound and comes and goes in waves. If your cat is in the kitchen and is nearby the dishwasher while it kicks into high gear, this may catch them off guard.
Things To Consider
When you can tell your cat is very upset about a loud noise in their home environment, there are some steps you can take to make them feel more comfortable.
If it is possible for your cat to move rooms and get away from the noise, show them the door or exit out of a room to help them get to a quieter place. Ensure their food bowl and litter box are not near anything that causes loud or unexpected noises, as this can cause your cat unnecessary stress.
You do not want to baby your cat too much during loud noises, as this reinforces for them that there is a reason to be scared or afraid. Instead, stay calm and offer soothing words and attention during a scary noise.
It also helps provide a safe spot for your cat to hide when feeling anxious or frightened. Offer them a cozy blanket or bed to burrow into until the loud sound is over or feel less frightened again.
Also, if you know a specific sound sets off your cat, try to avoid making that noise or doing so when they are not close by. Running the vacuum or the lawnmower while your cat is distracted with toys or food may help them stay calm during an uncomfortable noise.
Cats also prefer not to be startled, so it can be good to give your cat a warning that a sound is coming by showing them the object and offering them the chance to leave the room.