The extremely cold and snowy weather in many parts of the United States has caused a lot of anxiety for many. Our friends to the north have been buried under up to 100 inches of snow in some places, and others have been experiencing temperatures as much as 40 degrees below normal values for this time of the year. Even Floridians have experienced record breaking low temperatures. As if all of this wasn’t enough, the media contributes to this anxiety with its warnings about dangerous cold, named winter storms, and all sorts of other weather hype.

All of this has created something that is increasingly being looked at at a psychological disorder: weather anxiety. Our obsession with the weather, fed by the media, seems to be out of control. The Huffington Post reports that checking weather apps is the number one smartphone use.  Obviously, concern about approaching severe weather is normal, and it’s important to stay informed, but if your thoughts spiral out of control into worst case scenarios and prevent you from functioning normally, you may suffer from weather anxiety.

Cats pick up on human weather anxiety

Severe weather can also be stressful for our cats. Howling winds, heavy rain and thunderstorms can be very frightening even for indoor cats. Behaviorists are not sure which part of the storm frightens pets the most – the lightning flashes and thunder, the winds blowing around the house or the sound of rain hitting the roof. Some pets even show signs of anxiety an hour or more before a storm hits, leading to the theory that they are reacting to changes in barometric pressure.

If you suffer from weather anxiety, chances are that your cats will pick up on your energy and be more afraid as well, so finding ways to deal with your anxiety will not only help you, it will also keep your cats calmer.

Get control of your weather anxiety

If you find yourself getting anxious when the forecast calls for severe weather, try one or more of the following:

  • Limit watching the weather forecast, and find a source that presents the information without the hype. This can be challenging in this current media climate, but there are outlets that limit sensationalism and stick to mostly facts.
  • Make reasonable preparations. Having a plan will make you feel more in control.
  • Stay informed about weather conditions, but don’t become obsessed with up to the minute predictions.
  • Stay in touch with friends and loved ones, especially if you live alone.

I’ll admit to getting a little anxious before and during severe weather. Allegra, who is the more sensitive of my two girls, always picks up on my anxiety, which actually helps me because it forces me to remember to stay calm.

Do you suffer from weather anxiety? Do your cats get stressed in severe weather?

Image Pixabay

books banner for posts

11 Comments on Sunday Purrs: Weather Anxiety

  1. We live in Florida and have a hurricane coming, I suffer extreme anxiety during this time. My cat has been missing over 12 hours now, storm hasn’t hit yet. We can’t find her but know she is in the house. How long can I expect her to be hiding?

    • Oh Melinda, I’m so sorry. With the kind of storm you’re facing, it’s hard to predict how long she’ll be hiding. I’m assuming you’ve checked all the possible places, including inside the mattress or box spring, inside the lining of sofas, etc?

  2. This was a wonderful article. I’ve noticed that my cats are very attuned to my moods and anxieties, especially my little Widget who passed away in December, but my remaining two react to weather quite differently. Donald, our kitten, loves water, flashing lights, and the likes. He’s never experienced thunder so it will be interesting when he does. Bear, our older distinguished gentleman kitty, does not like weather. He shakes his paws in disgust over rain and cold, and just plain hides during thunderstorms like they are an air raid. He will not come out from under the recliner for hours and then only if we bribe him with cheese. I am not anxious about thunder but they are. If I thought for a second that thunder shirts actually worked I’d buy one for Bear.

  3. I know for a fact that my indoor cats pick up on my moods regarding the weather. Here in the SF Bay Area we don’t get much thunder and lightening but occasionally wind storms howl around the house and rain pelts the windows. Whenever that happens, they both look at me and when I ignore the weather or tell them quietly they are safe inside with me, they go back to doing whatever they were doing, probably sleeping.

  4. My friends would say I have weather anxiety and I agree. My kitty only has it during severe storms or anytime the wind gets going pretty strongly. She doesn’t seem to care about ice or snow like I do. The funny thing is though that she definitely can “predict” storms. She has been known to run threw the house like horses do in a pasture before a storm. She predicts the weather much better than anyone on TV. 🙂

  5. Great article Ingrid. You are always on point with what we are dealing with. I look forward everyday to your newsletters. As a Canadian, it is a fact of life dealing with harsh winters. I always stock up on essentials including lots of cat food. The key to alleviating weather anxiety is preparedness. Spirit Essences for pets can also be helpful and Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Remedies for people can help with any anxiety issue. Remember to take care shovelling. Better to shovel often and take breaks than waiting until all the snow has fallen. Shovel it forward when possible. I’ve taken up XC skiing and now I love winter. Find an activity to do during the winter and it won’t seem so bad. ❄️

    • I love your advice of finding an activity you enjoy during the winter, Robyn. Even though I’m not a fan of winter, I’ve really been trying to embrace this one and appreciate the beauty of even this cold season. While I can’t wait for spring, I also don’t like wishing time away!

  6. Your post is right on! I added two or three extra litterboxes with plenty of new litter (multicat) since the cats are confined due to the snow on the ground. I also give pumpkin, greenbeans, and catnip. The cats are upset even without human weather anxiety. (We have a woodsy outdoors, so cats usually use the petdoor to go outside). I also got treats (Party Mix) and a different flavor of kibble to keep things interesting for the duration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *