Why Your Cat Is Scared Of The Doorbell

You’ve probably noticed your feline’s strange behavior when someone knocks on the door of your house or rings the doorbell.

Some cats will investigate the noise on high alert, ready to flee when they realize the noise is related to a threat. Others seek safety as far away as possible.

Fight or flight action is an inherent automatic survival instinct for animals. Many cats are sensitive to random and unexpected noises, such as people knocking on your door or ringing the doorbell. Noises such as this represent threats for your favorite feline, and the cat’s instinct will kick in.

Other things will make your cat a little nervous or jumpy. Often, they see and hear things that cause them to find a hiding space until the storm passes.

One of our cats is much more scared of the sound of the door being knocked on compared to the other and runs up the stairs every time it happens, even if she’s nowhere near the door!

Read on to understand what causes them to run and hide and how you, as a pet owner, can help them learn to cope.

Why Are Cats Scared Of Doorbells?

Whether it’s a cell phone blaring because you turned the sound up a few notches or the banging of chair legs against a hardwood floor, any sound your cat is not expecting to hear will frighten it.

The unexpected sounds of your doorbell or someone knocking on your door will prompt an immediate and nervous reaction from your cat

Hearing the noise of vacuuming around the house can also be incredibly stressful for them.

A cat’s hearing falls into the same range capacity as humans on lower ranges, but when it comes to the higher ranges of around sixty-four kHz, a cat can hear a high-pitched sound almost two octaves above humans and dogs.

You may be able to handle the sound of a vacuum cleaner while you are pushing it around the house but imagine what your cat is hearing. For your cat, it is similar to standing next to a running jet engine without ear protection.

If you notice your cat fleeing every time you fire up the vacuum, then do them a favor. Move your cat to a room on the farthest side of the house before you start. Yes, you may have to relocate your feline a few times as you go, but it will help the cat eventually get acclimatized to the sound.

Sudden Movement

Cats also have a keen perception of sudden motions, whether you are doing it, or other animals or children are running around the house.

The rapid movements will often make a skittish kitty seek shelter. Usually, the best way to help your feline cope with this is to slow down.

If the typical disposition of your home is a state of controlled chaos, expect to find your cat in a bathroom, beneath a set of drapes, or tucked away in some low-trafficked area of your home. Your cat will most likely remain there until it thinks it is safe to make its way to the food or water bowl.

Slow and steady not only wins the race, but it will help your cat maintain a calm, less stressed demeanor. Once a cat feels safe and secure, it will probably venture from its hiding place and plop down beside you for a lengthy bonding moment.

Previous Traumas

A cat can respond negatively to movements or sounds that traumatized them in the past.

Your shelter kitty may demonstrate fear such as hair raising, hissing, and spitting when what you are doing seems perfectly normal to you. 

A cat may not have nine lives, but they certainly have long memories. Bad things that happened to them will swim around in their memories. If a traumatic incident happened to them in their past, they will carry that memory and respond negatively to it for the rest of their life.

We believe that our own cat is scared of the doorbell because of young family members that come round and end up playing with her.

Sometimes this playtime can be a bit too overwhelming for her.

When the door is knocked, she runs up the stairs because she’s probably uncertain about who is about to come in and is drawing on these past experiences.

It is essential to understand that although things seem perfectly normal to you, a traumatized cat will react to a trigger from its past, sometimes dramatically. It probably will not have anything to do with you, but it will undoubtedly have something to do with that particular action.

Learn to read your pet. If something you do out of habit distresses your cat, then alter how you do it until your kitty learns what you are doing will not hurt them. Once your cat understands the result of your action is not causing distress, they will remain calm the next time.

The Scent Of A Stranger

Cats are curious creatures, especially when it comes to a stranger you just let in the house.

A cat’s sense of smell is around fourteen times more sensitive than the human sense of smell. Do not be surprised when you invite a dog-loving friend into the house and your cat reacts negatively.

Historically, dogs and cats do not maintain a best-friend-forever relationship. When a cat smells the scent, it knows its tail-wagging nemesis is not far away. This dog-owner friend of yours has his beloved dog scent all over him, and your cat can smell it from yards away.

When your cat’s preservation instincts kick in, it will promptly back away, find a hiding space until the scent and your dog-loving friend departs. Some cats let their curiosity get the best of them, though. Sometimes, the smell is an overpowering aphrodisiac that brings them out of hiding.

Do not be surprised to watch as your cat cozies up to the stranger smelling this curious scent knowing the owner of the smell, the dog, is nowhere around. It is a perfect scenario for your cat: all the fragrances, none of the danger.

Behavior Modification

If your kitty is more resistant to the sounds and remains jumpy, then distance will be the next step.

Set up several locations around the house that your cat has no problem residing in. If these havens are far enough away from the sounds troubling them, your cat should be able to cohabit more calmly.

It will not be difficult to set these up. Just keep an eye on your cat. In a short while, he or she will show you exactly where the safe places are. Then practice changing distances and sound volumes until your cat begins to understand the sound poses no threat.

It may take several weeks or even months to modify your cat’s behavior, especially if the kitty is incredibly nervous or anxious. Be patient. Your furry friend wants a peaceful environment just as much as you do. Over time, and with some attention to detail, you and your anxious cat will learn to coexist.

Learning to Cope

There is a way to make things better for your cat. Try to limit those sudden movements and unexpected loud noises.

Whether when listening to music or watching television, turn the sound down until your cat demonstrates it is more comfortable with the noise.

Many pet owners may chalk up a cat’s behavior as a cat just being a cat. Still, most cats have unique personalities, phobias, and self-preservation techniques specific to them. If they are high-strung and jittery, it is up to you to help them adapt to more peaceful situations.


It may be that no matter what you try, your cat rushes to safety each time they hear the doorbell ring or someone knocks on the door, and the cat’s safety mechanism activates.

Hundreds of years of feline survival instincts will not disappear overnight.

Do not worry. The situation does not need to remain where you have to strain to hear things or your phone’s ringer is down so low you miss calls.

You can train your cat to adapt by slightly turning up the sounds of the television or telephone ringer each week or creating safe havens around the house until you and your cat reach a consensus.