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5 Sounds That Freak Out My Cats Every Time

Doorbell? Dishwasher? Bubble-wrap? Such sounds make Cosmo and Phoebe head for the hills.

Angie Bailey  |  Jan 9th 2017


Kitties are sensitive creatures, and they often seem to see, hear or smell things completely out of human range. Because they’re especially alert, cats can jump nearly out of their skins when they hear particular sounds. I find this is true with my Cosmo and Phoebe — especially Cosmo. Even if they’ve heard a noise hundreds of times, they still flip when it happens.

Here are five sounds that give Cosmo and Phoebe a little jolt.

1. Snapping of plastic garbage bag

"Why can't you just throw the trash onto the floor? Especially food wrappers, please."

“Why can’t you just throw the trash onto the floor? Especially food wrappers, please.”

Plastic garbage bags are not container-ready when I pull them out of the box. I have to “snap” them open. You know exactly what I mean because you do it all the time, too. The sound is a sharp one, almost like a whip. As soon as I snap a bag open, the cats scatter. It’s not like it’s the first time they’ve ever experienced my prepping a bag for the can; however, Cosmo and Phoebe act as if the sky were falling when they hear it. They don’t stay gone long, but that snapping sound definitely makes them jump.

2. Doorbell

"The end is nigh!"

“The end is nigh!”

My apartment didn’t come equipped with a doorbell, and my previous homes didn’t have one either. A few months ago, I bought a wifi doorbell unit because I live in a long, skinny apartment, and it’s sometimes difficult to hear someone knocking on my front door when I’m at the other end of my place. The doorbell offers about 30 ringtones. Can you believe it? There’s a tune for nearly every holiday, as well as several varieties of the old standard “ding-dong.”

Sure, the kitties have always been a little alarmed when someone knocks on the door, but the doorbell has taken the freak-out to a whole new level. It’s not all that loud, and I chose a ringtone that’s not too “in your face,” but Cosmo and Phoebe still think the Grim Reaper is ready to pay them a visit. Or at least they act that way.

3. Start of washing machine or dishwasher

"What the ...? Oh, that again. I'm going back to sleep."

“What the …? Oh, that again. I’m going back to sleep.”

My appliances are not what I’d call “whisper quiet.” They don’t sound like a jackhammer or anything, but they do turn on somewhat loudly and abruptly. Cosmo and Phoebe react especially to the motors of the dishwasher and washing machine. They don’t run, but they lift their heads like little periscopes, looking for the source of the sound. They don’t offer a ton of their attention, though. After the initial jolt, they usually put their heads right back down to sleep. Old news.

4. Bubble wrap popping

"Bubble wrap? How about NO?"

“Bubble wrap? How about NO?”

Some people are obsessed with popping the little bubbles on pieces of bubble wrap. I admit to playing around with them now and again, but I’m not one of those who just has to. Yeah, yeah — you know who you are. Phoebe is actually intrigued with the wrap, but she’s also addicted to tape or plastic of any kind. She’s been known to run off with a whole sheet of bubble wrap. Cosmo, on the other hand, is a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to bubble-popping. He doesn’t jump, but he certainly looks wary of the situation and won’t come near the stuff.

5. Packing tape peeling off the roll

"This is not a-peeling in the least."

“This is not a-peeling in the least.”

My experience with cats and tape: Either they hate it or are super obsessed with it. I have one of each. I mail a fair amount of packages, so packing tape is usually sitting around somewhere in my living area. When I peel a piece off the roll, two things happen: Cosmo hightails it into the other room, and Phoebe can’t get in my face fast enough. And then I have to fight with Pheebs because she wants to make off with every piece of tape I remove from the roll. If she could, she’d jack the entire roll. Don’t think she hasn’t tried.

What kinds of sounds make your cat jump? Tell us in the comments!