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?