As a cat owner, you may have noticed your furry companion scurrying for cover or acting more anxious when it starts to rain. Most kitties aren’t fans of getting wet or being outside in stormy weather. But why do cats dislike the rain so much? And what can you do to keep them comfortable and reduce stress when showers roll in?
In this article, we’ll dive into the reasons for cats’ rain aversion, signs they are distressed by storms, and plenty of tips to help them stay happy indoors and out when it’s pouring. Read on for a thorough guide to cats and rain.
Why Do Cats Dislike The Rain?
Cats’ distaste for rain and storms likely stems from instincts and physical traits passed down from their ancestors. Here are some of the main theories behind why cats and water don’t mix well:
They Descended From Desert-Dwelling Cats
The modern house cat originated in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, where their wild ancestors like the African wildcat lived in hot, arid desert environments. Since these felines didn’t encounter much rain, they never adapted an affinity for getting wet. Their descendants upheld that instinctual desire to stay dry.
Their Fur Doesn’t Dry Quickly
A cat’s fur is designed to insulate and protect their skin, not repel water. Their outer coat and underlying fur get soaked during rain showers. This leaves them saddled with a heavy, cold, and uncomfortable coat that takes time to dry out. Kitties meticulously groom themselves to avoid sitting in damp fur.
Rain Stresses Them Out
Between loud rumbles of thunder, wet fur, and the instinct to seek shelter, rainy days are stressful for many cats. The storm noises, smells, and atmospheric changes can overstimulate their senses too. So cats have learned to associate rain with unpleasant feelings of being unsettled.
It Can Make Them Cold or Sick
If forced to stay in drenched fur, cats can get chilly quickly since they have a naturally high body temperature. Their paws may also get numb and painful from walking on wet surfaces. Plus, dampness combined with cooler temperatures from storms can lead to illness in cats.
Signs Your Cat Dislikes The Rain
Cats communicate displeasure or discomfort in subtle ways. Here are clues that rain, thunderstorms, or other wet weather may be disturbing your kitty:
- Hiding under beds, in closets, or small enclosed spaces
- Refusing to go outside when it’s raining
- Acting skittish, restless, or agitated
- Hypervigilance or alertness to noises
- Dilated pupils and ears folded back
- Lack of interest in toys or activities they normally enjoy
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
- Excessive grooming
- Meowing insistently for no clear reason
Pay attention if these behaviors last long after it stops raining or if your cat seems abnormally lethargic. This could signify an underlying health issue that needs veterinary attention. Notify your vet immediately if you notice anything that concerns you about your pet’s wellbeing.
Tips for Helping Outdoor Cats Stay Dry
Braving the elements is part of outdoor life for some cats. Here are simple tips to minimize their rain exposure when they venture outside:
Provide Shelter They Can Access
Giving your outdoor cat a place to duck into for cover is crucial. Your porch, garage, shed, or an enclosed cat house work perfectly. Place a bed with familiar scents inside so they feel comfortable and secure. The shelter entrance should be raised off the ground and face away from prevailing winds.
Keep Their Shelter Dry and Draft-Free
Check that their outdoor shelter is lined with insulation and doesn’t leak. Place a tarp overhead if needed. Your cat won’t use the shelter if it’s damp, drafty, or gets them wet. Maintain proper drainage around the structure so no moisture pools inside.
Give Them a Place to Get Up High
Cats feel safest when they can perch up high to survey their territory. Have a cat tree, platform, or window perch under an overhang or porch roof so they can observe the rain from a warm vantage point.
Consider a Water-Resistant Vest or Jacket
For cats that spend extended time outdoors in the rain, a weatherproof vest or jacket can make their duties more pleasant. Just ensure any wet outerwear gets removed when they come inside.
Brush Their Fur When Damp
Gently brushing your cat’s coat after they get moist from rain will prevent mats or knots as their fur dries. Separate clumped fur with your fingers first. Use a stainless steel comb for cats with longhair.
Dry Their Paws and Fur
When your outdoor cat comes inside after wet weather, softly pat their fur with a towel to absorb moisture. Pay special attention to paws to get them dry and warm. Avoid rubbing vigorously or using a blow dryer, which can scare your cat.
Keeping Indoor Cats Entertained During Rainstorms
While outdoor cats need shelter from the storm, your indoor kitties will appreciate distractions from the gloomy weather:
Provide Hiding Spots
Give anxious cats spaces where they can retreat and relax when they feel unsettled by rain. A cozy bed in a closet, under furniture, or in a cat cave can help them feel secure. Place familiar blankets inside for added comfort.
Muffle Outside Noises
If thunder or heavy rain on your roof disturbs your cat, try masking those sounds. Turn on music, TV, or white noise machines to override the ruckus of storms. Close windows and curtains as well to create additional insulation.
Break Out Interactive Toys
Distract stressed cats with toys that get them engaged and burning mental energy. Food puzzle toys that require effort and concentration work perfectly. Bring out the laser pointer or kitty fishing pole toys to inspire active play.
Use Calming Pheromones
Synthetic pheromone sprays and diffusers can soothe anxious cats when applied in their environment. The pheromones mimic those produced by mother cats to impart feelings of safety and security. Feliway and Comfort Zone are popular pheromone brand options.
Keep Your Cat’s Routine Normal
Try to stick to your cat’s usual feeding, play, and sleep schedule as much as possible. Maintaining their sense of normalcy and predictability will help them feel less unmoored by storms. Cuddle and play with them more during rainy spells.
Consider Anxiety Medications
For cats with extreme fear of thunder, loud noise phobias, or separation anxiety, prescription anti-anxiety medications may be warranted. Your veterinarian can prescribe cat-safe drugs like Prozac or Xanax as needed for stressful situations like weather events. Use caution and follow dosage instructions carefully.
When to Worry About Your Cat in The Rain
While most cats just experience minor distress from rainy days, monitor your cat closely for any signs of more serious problems. Seek emergency vet care if you notice any of the following:
- Labored breathing or coughing
- Extreme lethargy, weakness, or inability to move
- Sneezing, runny eyes or nose, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Refusing food or water for 12+ hours
- Visible wounds, trauma, or difficulty walking
Also call your vet promptly if anxiety or odd behaviors persist after storms pass. Medication, pheromone therapy, or environmental changes may be needed to help your cat cope in the long run. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional advice.
Prepping an Emergency Rainy Day Kit
Hope for the best but prepare for the worst by keeping an emergency kit on hand. It should include:
- Backup power bank and batteries
- Water and canned/dry cat food
- Cat first aid supplies
- Flashlight, radio, blankets
- Cash, important documents
- Cat carrier or harness/leash
- Litter box supplies
- Prescription cat medications
This allows you to temporarily provide for your cat if storms or power outages force you to shelter in place. Check your kit every 6 months to replenish items.
What If Your Cat Likes The Rain?
While they are in the minority, some breeds like Turkish Vans and Bengals don’t seem to mind a little moisture thanks to their unique coats. Kittens are also often fearless when exploring their surroundings.
If your furball ventures out by choice in the rain, keep a close eye on them to ensure they come inside before getting totally drenched or chilled. Wipe dry their coat, feet, and tails when they return indoors after wet romps. Avoid bathing cats unnecessarily, as it can cause undue stress.
All cats, even water-loving ones, should have access to dry shelter during downpours. Pay attention for signs of hypothermia, upper respiratory infection, or lingering anxiety after they come inside. See your vet promptly if complications develop.
Embrace The Pitter Patter
While most kitties may never learn to love cold rain or booming thunder, with your help they can at least tolerate wet weather. Follow these tips to reduce their stress and keep them comfortable indoors and out when showers strike.
With time, patience, and TLC, you may even see their anxiety lessen. But if your cat still gets distressed, never punish them or force them into the inclement elements. Their dislike is instinctual. Just provide a safe space with comforts of home until the clouds pass once again.
Before you know it, their familiar sunny personality will re-emerge as they bask in patches of light. So embrace the season’s change in stride by adapting your home and habits to the needs of your cat. A few adjustments can help you weather every storm together.