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Ceiling fan phobia

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi All!
I posted last week about moving cross country and got some great advice. My kitties survived the 3 day trip and don't seem to be traumatized too badly.
Anyway, I have a new question/concern.
I've had both my cats since they were 12 weeks old. Tigger is now about 1.5 years and Tora is now 2 years old. We moved from WI to TX and I've discovered that Tigger is TERRIFIED of ceiling fans! This is a pretty big deal because in TX there is a ceiling fan in every room. When he first saw the ceiling fan he ran and hid under the bed for a couple hours. Now he'll come out if the ceiling fan is off but he constantly has to look up and check on the ceiling fan to make sure it's not coming to get him but he FREAKS out/panics if the fan is on or moves a little bit. Runs and hides and won't come out for a long time. Same thing if you pick him up and your standing near a fan. It is kind of funny but I don't want my cat to live in a constant state of fear about something that is everywhere, and I also want to be able to use my ceiling fans occasionally. Is there anything I can do to help him overcome this fear? I already have the feliway diffuser plugged in the rooms with ceiling fans, he has plenty of hiding spaces away from the fans, I don't use them (turn them on) when he is around and I praise him when he is out by the fans.
Do you think maybe with time he'll get over it with time? I really don't want him to be forever traumatized poor guy!

Sara
post #2 of 20
A lot of cats have this phobia.

I'd try leaving the fans on 24 hours a day for a while to see if the cats get used to them.
post #3 of 20
In time, the cats may get used to them but I don't want them to suffer in the meantime. Leaving them on all day and night long might tramatize them more. I suggest that you speak to your Vet about it. Perhaps Prozak might help.
post #4 of 20
I'd actually do the opposite - leave the fans off at first. Because it's not summer yet, you should be able to do it. After a couple of weeks, turn one on in a room he doesn't use a lot and leave that one on 24 hours a day. I think he'll learn with time that it is NOT going to kill him.

It's like the vacuum monster. At first our kitties all scattered like the thing was on fire. And now they'll run if it comes near them - but they quickly figured out it wasn't trying to get them.

Laurie
post #5 of 20
I wouldn't medicate a cat for this, since it's a natural fear. I think that the cat will eventually get comfortable... it can take months and months for a cat to feel like any new house is his safe, comfortable home territory. When I first got my cat, he was afraid of all the windows, and my front room in particular; but gradually he had time to explore and get used to it.
post #6 of 20
I too vote for leaving the ceiling fans off for now. Let Tigger spend the next few months (before the fans are needed) to get comfortable and confident in his new surroundings without the stress of dealing with this also. I think this would give him the best possible chance of successfully adapting to their presence and use, though unfortunately it sounds like there might be a decent-sized adjustment period.

Medicating a cat is a very serious step, with side effects and consequences that are potentially much worse than the initial problem itself. I can't imagine that medication would be appropriate in this case.

Like emmylou said, this is not at all unheard of. Some people theorize that some cats view the ceiling fan as a giant bird ready to swoop down from above and harm them. It sounds silly to us, of course, especially when the blades aren't even moving. But some cats apparently feel differently.
post #7 of 20
Ceiling fans often make some noise, whether it's from it lightly rocking or just the motor. That could be upsetting for an animal that's not used to hearing it, too.

I had the opposite problem with Tomas, he had never seen a ceiling fan when I first found him. He spent around 3 weeks trying to "catch" them. Eventually he got used to it and never notices the fans anymore.

I suggest when you first start working at acclimating him to them that you start a fan on low. It makes less of a whooshing noise. Also, don't make a big deal of it if he goes into that room and runs out or hides. If you react or get upset he may learn that it is something bad.
post #8 of 20
This might be a stupid idea - but can you borrow one or take one down and get it on his level for a while? Just lay it in the middle of the floor so he can actually see what it is, and that it isn't some huge monster living in the middle of the ceiling!
post #9 of 20
No reason to have the fans on, this time of year. Remember, they only make it FEEL cooler, by moving air across your skin. If you're not in the room, all they do is produce heat and use electricity.

Welcome to Texas! Too bad you weren't here when we had our big TCS meeting.
post #10 of 20
When some years ago feline behaviorist Pam Johnson Bennett had a message board at iVillage, she explained once that cats are afraid of ceiling fans because they remind them of predatory birds. They are afraid and their instinct tells them to protect themselves.

She also said that brown color (the color of hawks and owls) is the worst and that cats do better with light colored or white ceiling fans, usuallly they are less afraid of those. So she advised people to get light colored ceiling fans with cats in the home.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
Welcome to Texas! Too bad you weren't here when we had our big TCS meeting.
but you'll be here for the next one, right? [it is going to be an annual event, right, Lee?]
mine have no problems w/my ceiling fans [other than to find them interesting]

but mine are all white - they match the ceilings.

post #12 of 20
Mine try to play with ceiling fans.
I have to make sure they cant jump up pn them.
post #13 of 20
Both of mine were afraid of our fans in the beginning but they've had to get used to them because with our hot summers not putting them on is not an option.

Now they're both fine with them although neither one particularly likes me walking underneath the fan whilst I'm holding them even if it's off.
post #14 of 20
When we moved from Maryland to Florida our cat Keeba was scared to death of the ceiling fan in the bedroom and refused to go in our room whether it was on or off. I tried turning it off and when she realized it wasn't moving she slowly got more adjusted to it. Now she's fine with it but when she's laying on the bed under it she occasionally will look up at it to make sure it's keeping its distance. Riley, on the other hand, tries to jump on it whether it is on or off.... don't worry though - she can't get up there!
post #15 of 20
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 (Indiana Jones)expedition once again.
P.S. When extricating a freaked out cat from a confined space consider wearing oven mitts which go to the shoulders.

Ike
post #16 of 20
I also suggest leaving them off for a bit, and when you do turn one of them on, run them on reverse (so the air blows up, not down). That will get them used to the visual movement without the feel of the air.

My Muddy's favorite game is to bat at ceiling fan chains. They are high enough so that he can't play with them unless I am holding him up on my shoulder. With the fans off, perhaps put your cat on your shoulder and bat at the chains to see if you can turn this into a game.
post #17 of 20
Hennessy was PETRIFIED of ceiling fans at first. We continued to use them as normal (they are turned on when the light turns on.) At first he was quite skittish, but now he doesn't even notice, except when the one fan rocks and the pull-tabs click against the light... and even then he just sits and makes sure it isn't a mousey on the ceiling.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche View Post
No reason to have the fans on, this time of year. Remember, they only make it FEEL cooler, by moving air across your skin. If you're not in the room, all they do is produce heat and use electricity.

Welcome to Texas! Too bad you weren't here when we had our big TCS meeting.
MrBlanche - where have you been a few days ago when it was like 85F? . You never know in Texas......... It can be 80s during the day, and 30s at night
I would just turn it on everyday for a little bit... Hold him in your arms, turn it on, and try to calm him down with soft words... Offer treats every time you do that. He will get used to it eventually. Do NOT medicate him for this reason.
post #19 of 20
We just used our bedroom ceiling fan this weekend as we had warm weather. It is white - the same color as the ceiling - and I was anxious to see how Buddy would respond since I'm sure he's never seen one. He was curious and watched it for awhile, but did not seem stressed over it at all and eventually he went to sleep. He is similarly non-plussed when I use my blow dryer - he does not really react to it all except to look in its general direction. The only thing that seems to bother him is the vacuum, which is quite loud. I think he also is spooked by the "headlight".

I do know that cats can be bothered by ceiling fans. But luckily even my late Casey, who was somewhat skittish, never seemed to be bothered by them. I would not leave it on if they were frightened, but would try to gradually desensitize them to the sight/sound.
post #20 of 20
It looks like people stopped posting on this thread a while back, but in case anyone else searches the web like I was to find a solution to the ceiling fan problem and comes across this site, I thought I'd add an idea. A few days ago we had ceiling fans installed thru the whole house and one of the cats was so terrified that he wouldn't come out of the bathroom for any reason for 3 days. He hid behind the toilet and shook constantly. He would probably still be there now if my partner hadn't come up with a great idea. First, she set up a ladder under the fan, and put treats on the blades. Then, she wrapped him in a towel so that he wouldn't be able to claw his way away and carried him up so that he could see the fan up close and smell it. Once he smelled the fan he was immediately a lot less tense. He even eventually ate the treats that she had put up there. When she put him down, he was still afraid, but much less so -- he would at least hang out at the edge of the room, and still eyed the fan suspiciously, but he wasn't shaking anymore. At that point we started giving him lots of treats and positive feedback, and he slowly started coming around and moving more into the center of the room. By the end of the night that was filled with a lot of rewards (about 2 hours later), he was back to his old self! By the next day, he didn't even glance up at the ceiling once. It was amazing. Hopefully this technique will work for others -- it was heartbreaking to see the cat in such a state of fear!
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