Mieshelle Nagelschneider, founder of the Cat Behavior Clinic, noted that your cat could never “h.a.t.e” you, your cat could develop some f.e.a.r and mistrust towards you. Ne.g.a.t.ive feelings manifest in avoiding contact, s.cr.atc.hing, b.i.ting and hiding. And all of this can seem like h.a.t.e, but it really isn’t.
So, if you feel like your cat h.a.t.es you, you may be reassured to know that this likely isn’t the case. So here are the clear signs that show your cat is uncomfortable:
1. They keep hiding
According to Jessa Paschke, pet behaviorist at Mars Petcare, a hiding cat is not a happy cat.
“If your cat is always hiding it may mean they are not comfortable in their environment,” Paschke said.
If your cat is new to the family, Paschke recommends providing them with their own personal space so they can breathe and adjust. But, if they’ve been around for a while, then you may want to visit the vet’s office — Paschke noted that this could be a sign of an underlying health issue.
2. Their tail is horizontal
Russell Hartstein, certified cat behaviorist based in Los Angeles, noted that cats not only use their tails for their impressive balance, but it’s also an outlet for them to express emotion.
“A cat’s tail is incredibly expressive and when taken in context to their immediate environment and the rest of their body language reveals a lot about what is going on emotionally and internally,” Hartstein said. “It helps acts as a barometer of their moods.”
While Hartstein said that actions like tail wrapping (when they wrap their tail around you), an upright tail, and a “question mark” shape of the tail are all positive mood indicators, he noted that you should watch out for lashing, tail puffing (when the fur begins to puff), and a lowered horizontal tail.
“A lowered horizontal or general lowered tail means the cat is in a state of f.e.a.r, retreat or an ag.g.re.ssi.ve, h.o.s.ti.le mood,” he said. “Not a happy camper and time to investigate the antecedent arrangement of the environment.”
He also noted that the lower your cat’s tail is, the more s.t.r.es.sed your cat is, so keep an eye out for a lowered or tucked tail.
3. They walk away from you
We all get a little di.s.he.arte.ned when we try to play with our pets and they’re just not interested. While all cats find the need to relax and have their own space every now and then, Hartstein says that chronic disinterest in interaction could be a sign that your feline is not too happy with you.
4. They b.i.t.e
All of the experts agreed that a clear sign of resentment from your cat is b.it.ing. Although Nagelschneider stated that b.i.t.ing is normal behavior for kittens, she stated that full-grown cats should never be b.i.t.ing, especially when you reach out to try and pet them.
5. They h.i.s.s at you
One of the most well-known red flags of a cat’s attitude is h.i.s.sing. All of the experts agreed that if your cat is h.i.s.sing at you, then they’re definitely u.p.s.e.t. However, Nagelschneider noted that h.i.s.sing, g.r.o.w.ling, and swatting are all normal behaviors in kittens as they try to develop, so only be a.l.a.rmed if a full-grown cat starts to h.i.s.s.
6. They’re friendly to everyone else
Is your cat cuddly and attentive to guests, but refuses to interact with you? Nagelschneider said that this is a clear sign that your cat may have a personal problem with you. Try making sure your cat has all of its essentials — did you forget to feed it, refill the water bowl, or clean the litter box? The more attentive you are to your cat’s living situation, the more likely it will warm up to you.
7. They’re not using their litter box
Every cat owner has had this “surprise” happen to them before: your cat decided to explore their boundaries and use the bathroom elsewhere, completely avoiding the litter box. If your cat is still a kitten and is still adjusting to the litter box, then don’t take it personally — they’re still learning! But, both Hartstein and Paschke noted that if your cat is fully grown and consistently avoiding their litter box, or is “spraying” to mark their territory around the area, something is up.
Paschke said that the location of the litter box could be a simple fix to this situation.
“If they are not able to access their litter box when they need to, such as if another cat in the household is guarding the box or they are not comfortable with the box’s location, they will find a location they are comfortable with to toilet,” she said. “If they have appropriate resources and the inappropriate toileting continues be sure to have them checked out by their veterinarian.”
Some behavior changes to watch for include:
- Suddenly begins toileting outside the litter box
- Shows a lack of interest in grooming or grooms excessively
- Increases in vocalizations and types of vocalizations
- Manifests physical s.y.m.pt.oms (such as l.i.m.ping)
- Has a sudden increase or decrease in weight or eating habits
- Demonstrates social reclusiveness even if normally a friendly/cuddly cat
- Note any of the above behaviors. And if they continue more than a day or so, contact your cat’s veterinarian.