When my cat rolls over and exposes her belly, I can’t not touch it. I mean, sure it inevitably leads to me getting clawed and scratched but I’ve just convinced myself the pain is worth the experience. After all, my dog loves belly rubs? Why does my cat have to be so stubborn?
If this situation sounds familiar to you, hopefully, you’ll find comfort in the fact that your cat isn’t angry that you’re touching them, rather it’s their natural response against a perceived threat. When cats fight, they will often kick one another in the belly, so when they feel their bellies being touched, they view it as an attack. It’s like their own version of an invasion of privacy.
Here are 10 other things you do that your cat hates (and what you can do instead).
Being Picked Up
Alright, let’s just get the most hurtful one out of the way first: your cat doesn’t really like to be picked up. Granted, this will depend on the cat. My tabby cat, Olive, loves attention but hates being picked up but my shorthair, Jeanette can be held and cradled like a baby for hours.
Traditionally speaking though, cats don’t enjoy being picked up because they feel defenseless. While this news is upsetting, the good news is that your cat does want affection from you….just on their own terms. Let them come to you
Lighting Candles or Using Air Spray
Another thing your cat hates is when you spritz air freshener or light strongly scented candles around your home. This one surprised me, especially since I’ve been lighting candles in my home for years and never noticed a change in their personality. Chances are, neither have you.
A cat’s sense of smell is incredibly important to them, as it’s one of the main ways they’re able to track prey and identify ordinary objects near them. Unlike humans, who only have five million odor senses in their nose, cats actually have 200 million. Because of this, your cat easily picks up on the deodorizing scents you put into your home and while it may not seem like they’re being affected, those fragrances are most likely irritating them. Perfumes, air fresheners, and candles can even cause coughing fits and asthma in your cats.
If you have or want to use a spray around your house, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center recommends using Febreze fabric products, as these have been deemed safe to use around pets. They do, however, recommend using the product as directed and only using the Febreze fabric spray on couches and other household furniture in place of an ordinary household spray. Make sure the fabric is completely dry before your cat lays on it to avoid irritation.
A lot of people are under the impression that cats are solitary creatures who don’t need a lot of time and attention the same way a dog would. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Cats develop incredibly strong bonds with their owners and, like humans, can develop separation anxiety, sadness and even depression if they are left alone for extended periods of time or undergo any major life changes such as the death of a furry companion or move to a new environment.
In fact, some of the most common signs that your cat might be sad or depressed include:
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of interest playing with their toys
- Changes in grooming habits
- Lack of interest spending time with the owner
To ensure your cat is getting enough attention, you should spend at least 20 minutes per day playing and interacting with them. If you work long hours or are away from home and can’t spend a lot of consistent time with your feline friend, you can do the following while you’re away:
- Leave the blinds/curtains open so they can look out the window
- Leave toys out for them to play with
- Put food in a puzzle feeder (an interactive toy that encourages play in order to dispense food)
Read more: Why Every Cat Needs Their Own Tree
Making Loud Noises
Has your cat ever been cuddling with you only to bolt like a firecracker when something nearby falls? That’s because cats, like people, often associate loud and unusual noises with fear. Cats often prefer a quiet and calm environment, free from noise so they can relax. While you can’t avoid every noise, especially firecrackers that go off during holidays or special events or using the vacuum to clean your house, you can help minimize your cat’s anxiety by creating a safe space for them to hide and by using behavior modification techniques to help them become less fearful when loud noises are unavoidable.
Going for a Car Ride
For dogs, a car ride is a sense of adventure. For cats, it’s a real nightmare. As we mentioned earlier, cats can get easily stressed out when their environment changes. They’re also incredibly sensitive to smell. So going outside and being exposed to new sights, sounds and smells is going to be too much for them to deal with. Car rides often cause your cat a lot of anxiety because of this and they can also pose an incredible hazard if your cat winds up beneath your brake pedal or accelerator.
It’s legal to drive with a cat in your car as long as they are properly restrained (such as in a cat carrier) and do not pose a threat to you while you are driving. However, don’t let your cat roam free in your vehicle. It’s harmful to them and to you and it’s just not worth the risk.
Rumor has it that cats hate water but you might be surprised to learn that they might actually be drawn to the sound and movement that it makes because it taps into their natural instincts to capture prey. This is why your cat might stick their paws under a running faucet, tricking you into thinking they must not have a problem with it.
However, just because your cat might play with running water at times, doesn’t mean they want to be bathed. Cats are incredibly meticulous creatures who spend about five hours a day (on average) grooming themselves. When they get bathed, it causes their fur to become incredibly heavy and, in their mind, makes them much easier targets for predators.
There are some breeds, though, that don’t mind getting a bath because their fur is much more water-resistant. These breeds include the Turkish Van and Main Coon.
If you do want to clean your cat, use a dry pet shampoo instead of soaking them in a bath.
Failing to Clean Their Litter Box Regularly
Like people, cats also want a clean space to go to the bathroom. If their litter box isn’t clean, they will usually either hold in their urine or find another spot in the house to relieve themselves. Furthermore, your cat can also develop smell sensitivities to the type of litter you’re using, which might force them to avoid it. It’s recommended that you always make sure you’re using unscented litter and that it is about 1-2 inches deep for your cat to step in. You should also always make sure to scoop waste away daily and change the litter and wipe down the box once a week or every other.
Failing to keep a clean litter box can have serious health consequences for your cat. The most common health issues include urinary tract diseases and kidney and bladder problems — all of which can come with hefty vet bills.
Read more: Is Pet Insurance For Cats Worth It?
Having People Over
Another thing your cat hates is when you invite strangers over. Again, this ties into a cat’s distaste for any changes to their environment. Strangers often disrupt your cat’s normal routine by knocking loudly on your front door, chatting or screaming loudly and/or forcefully trying to touch or interact with your cat. Furthermore, if you place your cat into a separate room during the visit, they may begin to associate being put away with strangers and start to become hostile or aggressive.
If you’re having people over, don’t force them to interact with your guests. Instead, leave a bedroom or office door open for them to retreat to and provide them with treats or food in an effort to have them associate rewards with guests. The most important thing to remember is to be patient with your cat. Studies show that cats are able to distinguish their owner’s voice from others and will often look to their owner’s voice for assurance that everything is alright.
Giving Them Too Much Attention
While we said earlier that your cat needs attention, you have to be wary about giving them too much of it. Cats are independent creatures and while they do crave attention, they usually only crave it on their terms. Forcing a cat to sit with you or play with you when they don’t want to can result in injuries such as bite marks and scratches. This is because cats can get overstimulated easily. Have you ever been petting your cat while it purrs and rubs up against you only for a second later it to bite you? This is why.
Respect your cat’s boundaries and remind children to never pick them up from their tails and to walk away when the cat starts showing signs of overstimulation.
Leaving Cat Food Out
You’re going to be working late, so you sit out a can of wet cat food on the kitchen floor so your cat has something to nibble on while you’re away — only when you get home, they’re meowing their head off begging to be fed with their can of food looking like it’s barely been touched. This is because wet cat food can actually dry up and go stale within a few hours of being opened. Likewise, if you’re going away for a weekend trip and decide to leave out a larger bowl of dry food, you might be surprised to learn that the food actually goes stale within a day.
Like we mentioned earlier, cats are incredibly sensitive to smell, so when their food starts to spoil, they will avoid eating it the same way we would with a glass of milk that’s a few days past the expiration date. If you’re going to be splitting up a can of cat food, use a plastic storage lid to help keep it as fresh as possible.
When it comes to owning a cat, the most important rule of thumb is to respect their boundaries and dedicate time to taking care of their wants and needs. While cats have always had the reputation of being fiercely independent, they need you in order to have a happy and healthy life. Let us know in the comments if any of these things surprised you.