Cat is afraid of ceiling fan

bellagossJanuary 3, 2007

We just moved into a new house that has a ceiling fan in the living room. We have had our 7 yr. old cat for 6 1/2 years but this is the first time that she has encountered a ceiling fan and when we turn it on she is totally scared of it...she runs away and hides immediately. (The fan is silent, its the movement she is scared of).

It is pretty funny really and not that serious of an issue, but I am wondering if anyone has some ideas of how to help her adjust. If she runs away immediately everytime we turn it on, I don't see how she'll get used to it. We would like to use the fan to circulate warm air from our gas fireplace in the winter and to cool the room in the summer.

Thanks, Bella

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Nancy zone 6

I'm new to this forum, but have to say something here. I have a cat who hates new things, every year he is totally traumatized by the Christmas tree. By the time we take the tree down he is beginning to accept it. Balloons freak him out. He always seems like such a laid-back cat, it surprises me how easily he scares. I tell everyone he had a traumatic experience as a kitten that causes him to be like this. I snagged him out of the middle of a busy 4 lane highway one morning on my way to work. Barely got him by his tail before he ran off under a car.
I also have a cat who hates wind. It is not the movement of a fan, but the air movement itself that she hates. If she is outside when the wind is blowing, she ducks & dodges to get away from it, same with a fan. She has never gotten over it, and is 13 years old.
I probably haven't helped much, but I would just go ahead & use the fan, let her adapt in her own way without trying to force anything. She will probably get accustomed to it as she familiarizes herself with your new home. It is a lot of change for a cat with new surroundings, but I'm sure she will come around. Just be patient.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 4:46PM
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Cats really don't like sudden changes a whole lot, in my experience they even approach new toys in a very cautious manner and study them carefully for a bit until they pounce.
She will get used to the fan eventually; it may take time.
I would try to have something- a toy or a treat - she really likes in the vicinity and just not even show her or talk to her about any of that, just let her work it out.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 5:31PM
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When I was a kid, I had a cat that was terrified of Barbie kidding...she would be clinging to the ceiling...was pretty funny, actually.

She will get used to it...give her time.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 6:10PM
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My cats were afraid of the fan when we first put it in but now they look up and ignore it.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 8:14PM
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No advice, but got a chuckle out of all the posts.

I have a dog that is afraid of many things. Sometimes amusing, other times downright annoying.

Things that scare her:

A new cooktop that beeped when you turned it on or adjusted the heat. I actually called the manufacturer to see if I could disable it, because she would not come in the kitchen where her water was. (Note "was". The beep couldn't be turned off, so I had to move her water to the family room.)

One of those 5 gallon water things. It cycled on and off to keep the water cold. Very quiet, but I had to move it from the kitchen to a spare bedroom it freaked her out so badly.

New dryer that will beep when the load is done. Can't use that feature.

Literally anything 'new and scary' that I bring into the house. This could be a department store shopping bag, a new piece of furniture, or a box from

Windshield wipers. Oh, my, those are particularly terrifying to her!

A few things I can't see or hear, but she sure can.

On the other hand, she is not afraid of new people, new dogs, going for a ride, being at a different house....go figure.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 10:40PM
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When I returned from a B-day party my daughter had for me, I brought home the helium balloon. Totally freaked out some of the cats and the parrot went ballistic and growled and growled as it hovered. (He was an African Grey)..Too funny. I took the balloon to the porch. I think your cat will eventually adjust. Cats hate change but then so do I>>

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 1:05AM
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LOL,it is a funny post.I think that the cat will be fine in time.My cat was scared of every little noise when we moved last year.Everytime we left and came home he was hiding and had to be coaxed out.
Give the cat a week or so to adjust to it's new home.Then try making him stay in the room with the fan (shut all other doors so he cant take off under your bed or something)
Turn it on,and be really reassuring to your cat.Pet him and love him and tell him it's ok.When he realizes it wont hurt him he should be ok.Maybe you could make it fun and tie a string to it or something that he'd like to attack.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 2:48AM
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Roxy dog never noticed the ceiling fan until I reversed it for winter. She'd duck and look up. She got past it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 11:36AM
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Thanks for all the great replies! We've a good laugh reading them. Our cat is definitely feeling more comfortable in our new home. Still the ceiling fan thing though....I am sure she will adjust eventually, or just keep entertaining us as she dashes away wide-eyed to the back room.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 11:37AM
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My cat was absolutely terrified of the ceiling fan, when I first turned it on. She was just over 2 years old. She scared the living daylights out of me. She started howling and looking up at what seemed to me, to be the doorknob of the basement door. She'd poof out and hiss and growl if I picked her up and tried to claw my face off. I finally realised it was the fan after notcing she could see it before I could. And to get to her litterbox, she HAD to go past it. The way my house is set up, the only other place I could put it without her having to go by the fan, is in the kitchen. And that just wasn't ideal for me.

So I slowly started moving everything of hers, to be near her litter box, so she was forced to pass the fan. Then I'd pick her up (in a towel so she didnt claw me) and turn the fan on, and just hold her and pet her for a few minutes every day. Eventually she got brave enough to bolt by the fan to go to the bathroom, or eat. After a week or two, she stopped even giving it the time of day.

However, my beagle is terrified of just about everything. But the silly-kind of terrified where she'll startle, yelp and run away with her tail tucked between her legs and then come right back for more, so its not a huge issue.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 3:55PM
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I had to laugh when I read the title of this post-- we had the exact same problem when we moved into our apartment a few years ago. We have 2 cats, and one of them was just completely terrified of the fan-- even if it was turned off, not moving at all, and me or my husband even POINTED at it-- that was enough to send her running!

We just left the fan on 24/7, and eventually she got used to it. I wouldn't bother fussing over the cat to get it accustomed to the fan-- just behave as if the fan wasn't even there and put the cat food somewhere that kitty has to pass the fan to get to, and kitty will adjust. (Don't be surprised if it takes a couple of days though!)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2007 at 11:25AM
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Hello everyone! I thought I'd give you all an update about our little cat/ceiling fan show down.

After leaving it on all night for a few nights in a row in the early Spring, she has eventually gotten used to it. She still looks up at it wide eyed when we turn it on, but doesn't slink out of the room and hide anymore. Thank goodness, because we have had some hot days this summer.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2007 at 5:19PM
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Thanks for letting us know. The cat and the fan have probably worked out an agreement. As long as the fan sticks to its own territory, the ceiling, there won't be any problems. But the wise cat knows that a fan cannot always be trusted. It could decide to come crashing to the floor at any moment. Caution is advised.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:10AM
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Ha, I've never heard of a cat being afraid of a ceiling fan. My 15 year old cat used to always try and jump on ours.

All cats I've ever had, have been afraid of the vacuum. They always run and hide when they see it comes out of the closet.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 10:34AM
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I had a cat that was scared of, or just irritated by, a window fan (she was irritated by a lot of things--a real prima dona). She never tolerated being in the room with it up to the end of her life, age 20. Both my current cats hate balloons and the vacuum. One is terrified of the doorbell--she runs and hides--but she generally hates all people but me :) My other cat, a male who is usually quite tolerant is scared to death of foil. It happens often that he will be lounging in the kitchen as I'm cooking and, not thinking, I'll pull out the foil and tear off a sheet to wrap something. He goes ballistic--leaps in the air like a cartoon cat and races out of the room, not to reappear for a long time. This same cat is the only cat I've ever had who responds to his image in a mirror. I hold a hand mirror down for him and walk around the house with it: he follows, all curious and excited about the "new" kitty and he keeps trying to look behind the mirror to see where the cat went. It is too cute.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 7:55PM
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This is a funny thread. Is it possible that the fear of an overhead fan is related to some instinct that would protect a cat against hawks, for example?

We used to have a cat that was terrified of a little round yellow plastic thing that floated in the washing machine, picking up lint (This was in Japan). He was also petrified when he spotted a red frisbee in the middle of the living room floor, approached it with great caution, hitting it and jumping back from it, and so on, until he was sure it wasn't going to attack. Any round, red or yellow object seemed to provoke caution in him. (It wasn't till years later that some scientists began to say that maybe cats could see some colors, after all.)

One of those plastic cat clocks with rolling eyes and tick-tocking tail also obviously gave him a shock in the beginning, as did a bigger-than-life size poster of a cat on the wall. It didn't take him long to get over any of these frights, but we have never had a cat that even noticed so many different things and treated them as if they could be alive.

The funniest time was when he came into the room where I was sitting and holding a 10" doll I was making clothes for. I made it lift its stiff little arm as if to wave to him, and did he jump backwards without even looking where he was going! Must have thought it was going to throw something at him or hit him. By the way, he had never been hit--at least not in our house; we got him at 4 months of age.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 1:16AM
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My Cat Floyd was one and a half when I moved into my present store top apartment(above a pizza shop). Due to the the fact it was early summer and the heat from the shop below I installed ceiling fans in the living room and bedroom. Within a day of installing Floyd freaked out, disappeared and hid behind my water bed. He did not eat or go near his litter box for three days.
After an expedition that can only be compared with an Indiana Jones movie (a story in itself), I managed to remove Floyd from behind the water bed and take him to the vet due to my concerns, never realizing it was the ceiling fans causing this behavior (due to the amount of ongoing change and commotion from the move). Once at the vet I was informed that Floyd's bladder was rather hard and he must have not urinated in at least a few days. Large in part that he freaked out at the sight of the black fan blades against the white ceiling. The vet managed to induce urination stating she could have possibly saved him from urinary infection. Once home it all came together when I realized all of Floyd's attention was on the ceiling. Even in the safe haven of my arms all attention was upwards.
I have attempted to acclimatize Floyd and in 4 years. He will still freak out with even the slightest movement from above.
As stated by the previous poster I do believe that the movement from above sparks an inherent instinct of possible predators above such as a hawk or eagle.
I have never been able to come up with any other explanation. Thanks to Floyd never adjusting, I have since put in air conditioners(window rattlers) and have incurred a larger electric bill to ensure his comfort and not forgo the previous water bed expedition once again.
P.S. When extricating a freaked out cat from a confined space consider wearing oven mitts which go to the shoulders.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 4:51AM
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Is she trained to think the carrier is a refuge, mine are, I would put her in her carrier and place catnip in it, turn the fan on low, and just be with her giving treats and phrase, then gradually over a period of days raise the strength on the fan.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 1:01PM
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Well at least she won't be riding on it.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 3:30PM
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actually its good to teach kittens to go in the carrier willingly. Almost as importent as teaching them to use the scratching post.

If you have an adult cat its much harder.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 6:18PM
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TUNA served in the room with a ceiling fan cured my cats of this fear within a day or 2. Tuna is good for just about anything!

I also like to do practice runs with the cat carrier - load the cat up and walk around, even take in your car around the block (or anywhere besides the vet) just for practice. That way, when you need to go to the vet in an emergency the cat feels the carrier is a place of refuge and does not associate it with fear/terror.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 11:46AM
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I saw my cat looking up at the fan so just out of my own curiosity, i reached up and pushed it a little to make it go round. big mistake! He is cowering under the lounge and wont come out. I tried to grab him, but got an awesome scratch down my arm. I was hoping to find someone who had ever had the same problem. Seems as though I have.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 4:08AM
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