Why Does My Cat Ignore Me?

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As cat owners, we devote so much of our time to our feline companions. We cuddle them, play with them, and make sure that they’re warm and well fed. In exchange, our cats provide us with love and companionship.

Quick Overview

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Cats are a naturally independent species, and their social needs are much different from those of humans.

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There are many reasons why cat ignore humans, including stress, illness, fear, old age, or simply their personality.

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If your normally social cat is suddenly ignoring you, get them checked out by their vet to rule out any medical issues and address any potential causes of stress.

However, this isn’t the case with all cats. Some cats are affectionate while others can completely ignore us. Why does this happen? If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my cat ignoring me all of a sudden?” read on to find out the most common reasons to explain why your cat is ignoring you.

Cats Are Not Dogs

Cats are a naturally independent species, and their social needs are much different from those of humans.

First of all, it’s important that we know what to expect from cats. Humans are social creatures and the same goes for dogs. Being a social species, we often expect the same attention in return. However, this isn’t the case for our feline companions.

Cats are naturally independent creatures. Their ancestors were solitary hunters that only came together to mate, and our pet cats have inherited this trait. In the wild, other than mating, mother cats feeding their young, and young kittens in a litter, cats don’t naturally stay together. We know that there are exceptions to this in pet households and cats can learn to live together harmoniously.

Bearing normal cat behavior in mind, it’s clear that there’s quite a difference between humans and cats when it comes to our social interactions. We can’t expect to receive the attention from our cat that we want. Similarly, we also can’t expect that our cat wants the level of affection that we think they want.

Also Read: 10 Signs Your Cat Really Does Trust You

Why Does My Cat Ignore Me When I Call?

Many cats can be affectionate while still being independent.

Now that we understand that cats are independent pets, we know what to expect in terms of interaction. However, this doesn’t necessarily explain why your feline friend is completely ignoring you as many cats can be affectionate while still being independent.

There are many reasons to explain why your feline companion isn’t feeling very cuddly or attentive. As pet owners, it’s important that we find out why. We’ll discuss these in more detail now.

1. Personality

Some cats are more independent than others in personality.

As we know, cats are all different when it comes to personality. Some cats have an affectionate temperament and seek attention from their owners. Other cats are perfectly happy with minimal human contact. If your cat is ignoring you and they’ve always been like this, it might just be their personality.

Cats are independent pets and some cats are extreme when it comes to this. They can be quite content with their own company and rarely (if ever) seek out human companionship. If your cat has always been like this and they seem healthy and happy otherwise, it’s nothing to be concerned about. It could just be the way they are and they’re happy that way.

Also Read: 7 Health Benefits of Owning a Cat

2. Early Socialization With Humans

facts about cats

Without consistent, positive human contact during their socialization period, kittens might grow up to be aloof.

It’s really important for kittens to receive consistent, positive human contact during their socialization period. This period is between 2 and 7 weeks of age, and it begins to decline until approximately 14 weeks of age.

If kittens haven’t received this type of positive human contact, they can grow up to be cats that avoid human contact entirely. They might completely ignore humans or even be fearful of them.

Also Read: 10 Signs You Might Have A Clingy Cat

3. Stress

If your cat is usually social, but has suddenly begun to avoid you, they might be feeling stressed.

If your cat is stressed, it can change their behavior. A stressed cat is less likely to want cuddles and human affection (though some cats might be clingy). They might even ignore you if they’re extremely stressed. Stress can come in many different forms for cats and it could be the smallest thing that is making your cat unhappy.

Be mindful of any changes that might have stressed your cat such as a house move, a new baby or visitor in the house, a new pet, a change of furniture, a new neighborhood cat, conflict between the cats in your household, and many more. Any of these things can upset your cat, as they’re creatures of habit and don’t like change. If your cat has suddenly started to ignore you, stress could be the reason why.

Also Read: Moving Cats To A New Home: A Step-By-Step Guide

4. Fear

Fearful cat

Fear can cause a cat to ignore or avoid people.

Fear can be a powerful emotion and if your cat is scared, it’s likely that they’ll ignore you. They might be ignoring you to avoid a perceived threat. This could be related to early socialization, for instance, if your cat is semi-feral due to lack of socialization. It could also be related to stress such as a new dog in the house that’s barking at the cat and scaring them.

But fear could also be directly due to a fearful association. For example, if you’ve recently been giving your cat daily medication and it doesn’t like the medicine, it could be associating you with that experience and avoiding you.

Also Read: 8 Ways To Help a Scared and Fearful Cat Be Confident

5. Illness

Sick cats often act detached and withdrawn, behaviors that might seem like they are ignoring you.

If your cat is ignoring you, illness is a possible reason, especially if they’ve started ignoring you all of a sudden and they weren’t always like this. Many illnesses can cause lethargy, weakness, and pain amongst other symptoms. These symptoms can make it appear as if your cat is ignoring you while, in reality, they might be feeling unwell or sore.

For example, if your cat is suffering from cystitis they’ll be uncomfortable and in pain while trying to pee. They’ll be focused on using their litter box regularly and might be drinking more than usual. Some cats can act clingy toward their owners when they’re in pain but a lot of cats act detached and withdrawn. In this way, they can seem like they’re ignoring you.

Also Read: What Can You Give A Cat For Pain? 6 Vet-Recommended Options

6. Old Age

Senior cats can suffer from declines in their senses, mobility, and cognitive function that can make it seem like they are ignoring you.

As cats get older they can suffer from a variety of ailments. This can influence how they interact with you. Older cats are more likely to lose their sense of hearing and sight. If this is the case, it might just be that they physically can’t hear or see you to interact with you. Similarly, older cats are more prone to cognitive dysfunction/dementia and this affects how they socialize with their owners. They might be distracted or confused.

Older cats also suffer from osteoarthritis, which can vary from mild to severe. Pay attention to your cat’s mobility because if they’re struggling to walk around, they might not be able to walk over to you to seek out attention if they’re uncomfortable.

Also Read: The Complete Feeding Guide From Kittens To Seniors

What You Can Do About It

If your cat is newly ignoring you, try to figure out why so you can help.

If your cat is ignoring you, there could be a reason why. For some cats, this might simply be their personality. For others, there could be something wrong. We have a few tips below on how to help depending on the cause.

If your cat is stressed you need to find out why. Try to find anything that could be upsetting your cat and resolve the issue. The use of plug-in synthetic pheromone diffusers (such as Feliway) can help to relax your cat regardless of the cause of stress. Ensure that your cat has enough resources (litter boxes, beds, food and water stations, hiding areas and scratching posts). This will also help despite the cause of the stress.

If your cat is fearful or nervous of humans, there are some tips that might help. Playing with your cat and offering lots of yummy cat treats can help to build a positive relationship between you and your cat. It can also help your cat to build a positive association with you instead of a negative one (for example, after you’ve medicated them for a period of time).

Approach your cat in a gentle, positive way at all times. Get down on your cat’s level and offer an open hand for them to sniff.  Avoid prolonged eye contact without blinking or loud noises, don’t make sudden movements. Always allow your cat to initiate contact and don’t force them to interact with you if they don’t want to. Contact should always be on their own terms.

Also Read: What Are Cat Pheromones And Do They Really Work?

When To See Your Vet

If your normally social cat is ignoring you all of a sudden, schedule a checkup with your vet.

If your cat is ignoring you and they’re elderly or showing signs of being unwell, schedule a checkup with their veterinarian. Your vet will take a history from you in regards to symptoms that your cat has or any change of behavior (e.g., ignoring you).

They’ll examine your cat to check for any issues and they might decide to do urine and blood testing based on this. They might advise x-rays if they think your cat is suffering from a mobility issue such as arthritis. Ruling out illness is very important when your cat is ignoring you as they could be in pain.

Also Read: How Much Does A Cat X-Ray Cost?

In Summary

Some cats are less social and are perfectly happy that way, but many cats enjoy attention and affection from their favorite people.

We love our cats so much and it can be upsetting when they ignore us. For some cats, this is just their personality and the way they are. For others, it can be a sign of stress, fear, illness, or associated with elderly cats.

If your cat is suddenly ignoring you, get them checked out by their vet to rule out any medical issues and address any potential causes of stress. Remember that all cats are unique and have different personalities, so don’t take offense if your cat ignores you on a regular basis.

Also Read: How To Introduce Cats To A New Home

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my cat ignores me?

If your cat is ignoring you, make sure that they aren’t stressed or unwell. Book a visit with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying illness and check for anything that could be causing them stress.

Does my cat ignore me on purpose?

No, your cat doesn’t ignore you on purpose. There are many reasons why your cat is ignoring you including stress, illness, fear, old age, or it could simply be their personality.

Why is my cat staying away from me?

It might be your cat’s personality or they might not have been socialized from an early age. If it’s a new behavior, schedule a veterinary visit to rule out illness or stress.

Why does my cat ignore me during the day?

Cats often sleep during the day and are more active at dawn and dusk. If they have always been like this, there’s nothing to worry about it. If it’s a new behavior, get them checked by your veterinarian.

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About Aisling O'Keeffe MVB CertSAM ISFMAdvCertFB

Aisling qualified from University College Dublin as a veterinarian in 2015 and went on to work in a mixture of small animal hospitals here and in the UK, including a cat-only veterinary clinic for 3 years. She has completed a postgraduate certificate in Small Animal Medicine and the International Society of Feline Medicine's postgraduate certificate in Advanced Feline Behaviour. Last year, she wrote a children's book called 'Minding Mittens', which aims to educate children on cat behaviour and care and featured on the RTE tv series 'Cat Hospital'. She has recently become a Fear Free certified vet, which aims to make vet visits as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. In her spare time, she enjoys looking after her pets, which includes 6 recently rescued guinea pigs and 13 ex-battery hens and renovating her cottage with her husband and baby

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