15 Signs Your Cat Is Secretly Mad at You
Think your cat is purring because she’s happy to see you? Not always! Cats are the queens of mixed messages—here’s how to understand your fickle feline.
She watches you from afar
It can be hard to tell if your cat is keeping her distance because she’s upset or if she’s staying away because, well, she’s a cat and cats are weirdos. But if your furry friend actively avoids you when she’s normally playful or keeps away for longer than usual it can be a sign she’s mad, scared, or anxious, says Michael Rueb, cat behavior expert and operations manager for the National Cat Protection Society. Angry cats will keep their distance when they get confused by, say, a sudden loud voice, quick movements or even an unfamiliar smell on your jacket, he explains. The solution? Let her have her space, she’ll come back when she’s ready.
He growls at you
Think it’s just dogs that growl? Then you’ve never seen an angry cat. Angry cats can make a wide variety of noises that signal their displeasure, including a throaty growl, Rueb says. If your bestie is vocalizing his feelings, start by giving him his space and then slowly do things that will create a positive relationship, like feeding, playing with toys, grooming, or speaking softly, Rueb says. Learning the truth about these little things that make your pet tick will also help replace growls with purrs.
She gives you “the look”
What look? If you’re a cat owner, you don’t even have to ask—cats are masters of showing their feelings through their eyes. “Cats especially become perturbed when their routine is messed up, like if you’re late feeding them or during daylight savings time,” says Kac Young, PhD, author of The One Minute Cat Manager. The solution is obvious: Schedule your life around your feline overlord, or find yourself dealing with a very angry cat. We’re kidding—mostly: Cats will do better on a regular, predictable schedule, so do your best to stick to one, she says.
He gets huffy when you bring out the suitcases
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Cats can tell when you’re getting ready to leave them. They may act like they don’t care what you do but start packing your luggage and you may notice your angry cat scowling and glaring at you, Young says. “This is easy to fix: Leave a T-shirt or some article of clothing with your scent on it in their bed,” she says. “And make sure your pet-sitter gives them extra attention while you are away.” All will be well when you return home.
She avoids her favorite mouse toy
Toys can actually be a major source of irritation for a cat, Young says. “They get bored with the same toys so it’s important to mix them up or refresh them with catnip,” she explains. “Cats need lots of stimuli because they are natural hunters and love the game of chase and capture.” That has to do with their hunting instincts, which is also the reason behind why cats sleep so much.
He hides under the couch and refuses to come out
Hiding is one of the first signs your cat is unhappy or fearful with you or the situation, says Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and the author of ComPETability: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Cat Household. Resist the urge to try to drag your angry cat out of hiding—it’s a protective reflex and if you force him to socialize before he’s ready he may become aggressive, she explains.
She suddenly gets very fluffy
The very stereotype of an “angry cat” is a kitty crouching with an arched back, fluffed out fur, and a bushy tail, Shojai says. This gives the animal the appearance of looking bigger and more intimidating—which often backfires with enamored owners. But no matter how cute or funny you find this posture, now is not the time to try and pet her. Give her space or she may swat at you or bite, she says. This ability to “fluff out” when afraid is just one of 17 cool things you never knew about your cat.
His ears look like he’s preparing for takeoff
Ears flattened back against the head and slightly sticking out—”like airplane wings”—are a sure indicator your cat is upset, Shojai says. Don’t worry too much but do keep your distance. “An all-out attack toward people isn’t terribly common, and when it happens, may actually be a redirected aggression,” she explains. “Your cat cannot address the real reason for their angst (that darn squirrel trespassing in their yard!), so instead they nail a human hand that tries to pet when kitty is upset.”
She poops on your pillow
Rare is the cat owner who hasn’t discovered a “present” in a surprising place. “Eliminating on your bed is a typical sign of feline separation anxiety,” Shojai says. Even though it may appear she’s an angry cat taking out her frustrations on you, in reality, she is using her own scent as a way to cope with her anxiety. “That they target the bed is sort of a back-handed compliment because it smells the most like their beloved—you,” she adds. As if that’s not enough of a reason, here are 8 more reasons you should never let your cat sleep on your bed.
He bites your hand when you pet him
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Has your cat ever begged to be petted and then bit or scratched your hand? This is called “petting aggression” and it’s totally normal (if annoying), Shojai says. “This ‘leave me alone’ bite doesn’t mean he’s angry, but that he wants to control the interaction, and the petting that goes on too long over-stimulates him,” she explains.