“My cat hates me. I don’t know why.”

My cat hates me

“My cat hates me. She is not as nice as my previous cat and I don’t want my cat anymore”

Has this ever happened to you? You adopt a new cat after your previous cat died and you find you don’t like her as much. You are disappointed. You are torn between giving her up and trying to make things better. You think your new cat dislikes you (or even hates you) for some reason, although you have no idea why. She seems to be frightened of you. Or you have kept your cat for years and she seems to have gone off you – started to dislike you.

“Hates me”

Right away, I’d say that the statement “my cat hates me” is incorrect and itself may be an indicator as to why your cat behaves as she does with you. I don’t believe a cat hates someone. It is more about a cat being fearful of someone and acting in a defensive way, which can translate to aggression towards a person. So, the statement “my cat hates me” should be “my cat is scared of me”.

What are you doing?

The first thing to do is to check whether you are doing something that makes your cat anxious. Or, whether a person you live with is doing something that makes her anxious. In fact, the whole environment where she lives should be checked out to make sure that you are not creating this problem. Another cat or a dog in the household may be the cause of upset and your cat may be transferring her aggression onto her human companion. It is obvious to ask these questions first,  but quite a lot of people are not sure what upsets a cat.

Forcing

What can happen is the cat’s owner can try and force his/her cat to do things such as sit on her lap – i.e try and force the cat to be affectionate. The cat wants to move away and the person gets irritated and shouts at her cat. That single act might damage the relationship. If it goes on it will make the cat anxious. Then the person will become more annoyed and shout some more and perhaps hit her cat. That spells the end of the relationship, almost.  The only way to resolve it is a long period of excellent cat care: best food, quiet, TLC, calm and letting your cat be himself.

Eventually, the cat will learn to trust the person again all being well. The morale to the tale is never to force issues. If a cat wants to be alone let him be alone. I think sometimes people’s insecurities show. The person wants more from their cat than the cat can deliver and so becomes disillusioned with their cat. This leads to the person behaving inappropriately with their cat (forcing, shouting etc) and the spiral downwards in the relationship accelerates. The problem is with the person not the cat.

Selection

Another question worth asking is this: when you selected your cat your cat should have selected you or made it known to you that she was relaxed with you. This often happens. If selection was on that basis, you have to ask what went wrong between the encounter in the shelter and at home.

Picking up

Sometimes people will say, “my cat meows when I pick him up and wants to get down” and use this as a sign that their cat hates them. This is incorrect. Most cats don’t like being picked up anyway. Also, sometimes, people pick up their cat in the wrong way causing the cat to feel insecure. Another reason why a cat dislikes being picked up is because she is injured or has an internal soreness due to illness that hurts when picked up. All these things should be checked out. It is not a question of a cat learning to hate a person.

New home

It may well be that your cat is not settled down in her new home. New places make cats anxious. It can take months before a cat is settled. In fact as far as I am concerned your cat will be settled down in a new place when you are settled down. That takes up to 6 months and more. If, therefore, your cat “hates you” during the first few weeks of a move, the reason is probably the move. Patience is the answer.

Play

If a cat becomes aggressive when playing with her/him and you get scratched, this is not a sign that your cat hates you. It is a sign that you are playing to much and too hard with your hands and your cat has become wound up and gone from play to hunt. Just ease back in play and accept what your cat does as natural.

Trauma

If there is nothing that you can point your finger at as a possible reason why your cat is scared of you it maybe that she has a problem with a certain type of person because of a previous traumatic experience.. Patience and plenty of tender loving care should overcome this but a cat may never get over early trauma due to abuse and may always remain fearful of people or a certain type of person. The cat’s owner will have to accept this and know that he/she is doing a great service in giving an abused cat a fresh start and a nice home.

Scent

Finally, scent may play a role. Cats are very scent orientated. If a person wears perfume it may put-off a cat. I know that my cat likes the way I smell. He will scent exchange when he smells me (rub my hand and head butt). Scent exchange is an act of friendship. It is what a person, who thinks his cat hates him, wants. Make sure your cat likes the way you smell. That should be checked out at the outset. But if there is a good relationship between cat and person the person’s scent becomes something pleasant to the cat.

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Comments

“My cat hates me. I don’t know why.” — 8 Comments

  1. Very good article Michael. I’d just add that I think when someone loses a much loved cat and adopts another quite quickly, they expect too much of the new cat. It’s a mistake to bring a new cat home before properly grieving for the one you have lost, it’s not fair on that cat.
    I hate it when I read someone being advised to get another cat immediately to help ‘get over’ losing one, because all cats are different and don’t deserve to be compared to other cats, or used as a comforter.
    Cats don’t hate, there is always a reason if they seem unfriendly, time and patience can make a big difference and not expecting too much of the new cat.

    • Good point about bring a new cat too soon. It is about people expectations and a person won’t be able to replace the love they generated over years in a few weeks.

    • I would want to get a new cat right away because so many are sitting in shelters waiting and even dying before anyone adopts them. But I wouldn’t expect the new cat to be a replacement for a previous cat. Every cat is different. It would be more about the cat than about me. Who can I help now? I’m allowed only one cat at a time by my husband. I hope Monty lives to be 100 in cat years (or more) but if not I would want to help another cat as soon as possible. If it’s about the cat and not about you, you aren’t saying, “My cat hates me.”

      It’s like with teaching. One of our administrators lead an inservice this summer and she said if you are in teaching because you love kids, get out right now. Because if that’s what you are saying, then you really want them to love you back. So one day in class when a twelve year old girl is having some problems at home or just got her period or whatever and yells at you, “Bitch!” then you won’t like teaching anymore. You won’t be able to love back when you aren’t getting loving behavior from them. You have to be in it because you want to help, because you care, because you want a better education for them– whatever the reason. But if you are in it to love and be loved, forget it.

      Maybe it’s like that in cat caretaking. You have to be in it for the cat, it has to be all about the cat and what you can do for him. If it’s about your feelings, wanting to love and be loved, that’s not always going to happen. It will always be on the cat’s terms, and you have to be ok with that.

      • But I wouldn’t expect the new cat to be a replacement for a previous cat.

        A nice refinement on the concept. I agree it is about us and how we approach cat caretaking. The wise cat caretaker refers to himself rather than the cat if there is a relationship problem.

      • Sadly everyone isn’t as sensible as you are Ruth, or as sensitive, some people pour their grief onto a new cat and expect the cat to comfort them.
        It’s wrong to get a cat for your own sake and not for the cat’s sake.

  2. Nice article, Michael. I thought, by the title, that it was sort of a joke because I don’t believe that cats have the ability to hate. I would be a very unhappy feral caretaker if I interpreted their behaviors as hatred.

    As you point out, there are many reasons that we may feel a cat isn’t warming up to us. I think distrust is the most common. We don’t have to know the ins and outs of how that came to be; we need to examine our own behaviors to assure that we are not a cause, keep our behaviors in check, and give it time. As in the pic, gentleness, kindness, and patience are the keys. And, like Ruth AKA, I think we need to keep our expectations realistic.

    • Thanks Dee. I sometimes take what people state on the internet in forums etc. and use it as the title for the article. It sets the scene and hopefully when people type in the title Google finds the page. That’s the plan!

  3. Good article and true that cats don’t hate people as it’s a human emotion.
    Too many people don’t understand cats at all and it’s sad that cats suffer because of that ignorance.

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