Your cat might not pay the bills or fold the laundry, but they still consider themselves to be the supreme ruler of your household. They monopolize the best spot on the couch, expect hand-delivered meals exactly when they want them, and generally walk around like they own the place.
But even with all that perceived authority, cats get easily offended by things they can’t control. Some might say they’re sensitive, but the truth is that cats have specific needs and expectations. They meow as much as they can, but a lot of your cat’s likes, dislikes, and aversions get lost in translation.
The biggest problem is that pet owners don’t always notice a cat’s body language. We humans don’t understand that a twitching tail could mean kitty is feeling extremely irritated.
And when your cat gets up and leaves the room, it could be their not-so-subtle way of saying they’re fed up. If you care about your cat’s feelings, you’ll pay attention to all the things that could potentially offend them.
1. Too Much Touching
Most cats appreciate a good scratch behind the ears or under their chin, but it’s possible to give too much of a good thing. Most cats only want to be touched when they’re in a certain mood, and even then, they don’t appreciate highly invasive or long-lasting cuddle sessions. Every cat is different, but many felines feel overstimulated with too much touching. Depending on your cat’s personality, they might swat at your hand, get up and leave, or hold all that irritation inside until they start to avoid you.
2. Direct Eye Contact
In the human world, making eye contact is considered respectful and polite. You have to remember, however, that your cat isn’t human. Our feline friends don’t follow the same set of social standards. To your cat, direct eye contact is an aggressive behavior. When two cats make eye contact, it usually ends in confrontation. If you’re not trying to pick a fight with your cat, be polite and look slightly to the side.
3. Tight Hugs and Holds
There are certainly some cats that love to be carried around by favorite family members and enjoy all the hugs and attention. Most cats, however, are more reserved when it comes to physical forms of affection. When you pick your cat up and tote them around the house, you most likely make them feel trapped and helpless. It might also be painful. Even if your cat doesn’t try to violently squirm out of your arms or bite your hands, it’s usually best to only hold and carry a cat if you absolutely need to.
4. Neglecting the Litter Box
Never take advantage of the fact that your cat reliably uses the litter box and doesn’t need regular potty breaks like the dogs in the family. Cats prefer to keep clean while doing their business, but they can’t do it all on their own.
It’s your job to clean the litter box on a regular basis and provide new, fresh litter as needed. It’s also your responsibility to position the box somewhere that’s convenient and easily accessible. You would be pretty ticked if someone suddenly stopped flushing the toilet or somehow moved the bathroom to the opposite end of your house, so don’t put your cat through that same hassle.
5. Forgetting About Their Basic Health Needs
No matter how much your cat hates the vet, those visits are essential. A yearly vet visit is the only way to ensure your cat stays healthy and to keep up with preventative treatments including vaccinations and flea/tick treatments. It’s also your chance to check on issues including skin problems, food allergies, and any concerning symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Neglecting your cat’s basic healthcare is not only offensive, it’s a risk you shouldn’t be willing to take.
6. Interrupting The Routine
Cats are creatures of habit. They want to be fed at the same times every day, they want to take naps in the same spots every day, and they want the rest of the family to follow their lead. When the daily schedule is interrupted in any way, it can lead to feelings of stress, confusion, and plain old irritation. Keeping to a predictable routine is one of the best ways to keep your house cat happy.
7. Cutting Playtime Short
You might be lazily swinging around a feather wand, but your cats are honing those predatory instincts. They’re practicing natural instincts that have been ingrained in their minds for generations.
Playtime is fun, but it’s also serious business. Cats deserve at least 15 minutes of uninterrupted play time every day, and you can’t just cut it off when you see fit. If you spark your cat’s desire to stalk and pounce but stop the game before they’re ready, they’ll be left feeling frustrated and unsatisfied. By letting your cat decide when they’ve had enough, you ensure those interactions are always positive.
It’s not realistic to think your cat will never be offended or irritated. Many behavior problems, however, can be linked to things on this list. Frightened cats, aggressive cats, cats that refuse to use the litter box—it’s possible that they’re all dealing with humans who don’t quite understand them. By recognizing these common offenses, you’re one step closer to having an incredible bond with your cat.