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Is There Any Truth to the Term “Scaredy-Cat?” We Ask a Cat

Why do you hide when the mail carrier arrives? "He smells like lighter fluid," replies Stella.

Michael Leaverton  |  Oct 27th 2015

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.

Halloween is near, and that got us thinking: Does the term “scaredy cat” have any truth to it? Do cats naturally get scared? Or are they just smart? Because, you know, when the doorbell rings there could be any number of murderers or bill collectors standing on the front stoop, and it pays to be safe. I asked my cat, Stella, for her thoughts.

"Got any Halloween treats for me?" (Photo of Stella by Gina Cioli/i-5 Studio.)

“Got any Halloween treats for me?” (Photo of Stella by Gina Cioli/i-5 Studio.)

Me: Hi, Stella.

Stella: Aaaahhh!


Oh, I’m sorry. I just thought you might be about to murder me or something.

I’ve taken care of you for 10 years, Stella.

I thought you finally snapped.

Well, your reaction is actually helpful, considering Halloween is coming up. Do you think you’re a scaredy cat?

Are you kidding? You snuck up on me.

You were staring at me for 10 minutes.

I was staring past you.

What about the mail carrier, then? Every time he comes to the door you act like he’s going to burn down the house.

He smells like lighter fluid.

The postman does not smell like lighter fluid.

My highly evolved cat senses tell me otherwise.

"I have nothing to say about the mailman." (Photo of Stella by Gina Cioli/i-5 Studio.)

“I have nothing to say about the mailman.” (Photo of Stella by Gina Cioli/i-5 Studio.)

What about that kitty who lives next door? Your tail goes boof whenever you see her.

You should see what she does to moths.

She’s just being a cat.

She’s the Antichrist. And right there next door to us. Imagine that.

What about my friends, then? Whenever they visit, you spend the whole time under my bed.

Your friends are boring.

You’ve never even met them.

I hissed at them once.

Let’s get back to the issue: Is there any truth to the term scaredy-cat?

It should be scaredy-dog.

Dogs hardly get scared.

Ours does.

He’s scared of you.

And I’m an 8-pound cat.

You’re 12 pounds.


So you maintain you’re not a scaredy-cat?

I’m not scared of anyone. Not like you.

What? Who am I scared of?

When the doorbell rings, you flinch and peek through the curtains.

Well, times change. People don’t come to the door as much unannounced. It’s kind of disconcerting when it happens.

Like they could murder you.

Not really.

Hey, trust your gut! Next time, crawl under the bed with me.

I’m fine. I just like to know who I’m dealing with.

That makes two of us.

That reminds me: I’m having friends over tonight.

Great. I’ll be in the closet behind the shoe rack. Your friends can’t murder me there.

See you tomorrow, Stella.

About the author: contributing editor Michael Leaverton has written a wide variety of articles in the last 10 years, very few of which after consulting with his cat. That ends here. Stella is a 10-year-old Bengal with a firm editorial grip on her handler, whom she rescued from an alt week- ly in San Francisco many meals ago. She likes it when he writes about chicken. They currently live in San Diego.