A cat looking funny, surprised or concerned.
Has this funny-looking kitty just had some catnip? Photography by fotostok_pdv/Thinkstock.

Why Do People Hate Cats?

Why do people hate cats? We look at the reasons why some humans have such a strong dislike for the elegant and charming feline.

Why do people hate cats? Let’s begin with just one example. In the mid-1300s, the Black Death was responsible for up to about 25 million deaths in Europe. Many people, including political and religious officials of the day, blamed cats for the plague. As a result, cats were annihilated. This turned out to be a costly mistake. Medical officials finally figured it out: The plague was transmitted to humans from Oriental rat fleas that live on black rats.

Unfortunately, that’s how it’s been for cats through the ages. As the great world philosopher, cat lover and pop-and-country music artist Taylor Swift has said, “Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play; And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

The players of the day finally embraced the cats, who killed the rats, and deaths as a result of the plague, of course, quickly declined.

However, the cat haters continued assailing cats. So, why do people hate cats? Let’s look at some reasons.

Why do people hate cats? We humans are technically closer to dogs.

A cat and a dog eating together.
Why do people hate cats … but love dogs? Photography © chendongshan | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Ethologically speaking, we’re closer to dogs. We co-evolved with that more slobbery species. Cro-Magnon men and women blossomed when relatives of today’s wolves began the domestication process into dogs. Perhaps we’re still hardwired to like dogs.

While some cultures on the planet consider dogs dirty, in the United States and the Western world, most people say they like dogs, even if they don’t have one. The exceptions to that are people who are allergic or who have had bad experiences.

Why do people hate cats? They haven’t been around for too long.

Another answer to “Why do people hate cats?” is that domestic kitties as we know them haven’t been around for too long. Unlike dogs, who we domesticated, cats pretty much domesticated themselves. Of course, they lived with us on their own terms. Cats took advantage of our grains that attracted vermin dinner and thus, over time, people and cats realized the benefits.

Today’s domestic cat has experienced about 5,000 to 8,000 years of living with humans, a relative blip in evolutionary history, and far less than going back circa 40,000 years when dogs lived side-by-side with Cro-Magnon humans. If you’re over 60 years old, you remember when most cats in the United States lived both indoors and outdoors, a very different lifestyle than the vast majority of today’s cats.

Why do people hate cats? They may have had a negative experience, such as an allergic reaction.

People who dislike cats may have had a negative experience, such as having extreme cat allergies. This is when their body’s immune system reacts to the proteins in the cat’s dander, saliva or urine.
People who dislike cats may have had a negative experience, such as having extreme cat allergies. This is when their body’s immune system reacts to the proteins in the cat’s dander, saliva or urine. Photography © Zinkevych | Getty Images.

Unlike dogs, which for some can do no wrong, cats sometimes can’t win. And most humans don’t feel ambivalent about cats; they either love them so much that they can barely only have one or they scorn them. It’s amazing how the human brain works.

People who hate mustard, for example, and really just can’t tolerate the taste also typically can’t tolerate the smell. And sometimes even a TV commercial for mustard causes an aversive response. Cats are like mustard. For example, people with extreme allergies learn to dislike them so much that even TV commercials with cats may make them uncomfortable. Their disgust is unreasonable to cat lovers but is cemented into the amygdala in their brains. And it’s real.

Why do people hate cats? There are lots of (untrue!) rumors about cats out there.

An unfortunately popular answer to “Why do people hate cats?” is misinformation. Spread rumors about dogs, and they have little traction. Unsubstantiated reports about cats are another story. And to Taylor Swift’s point, “cat haters” just gonna hate and fan the flames. With the advent of social media, it’s become an inferno but without substantiation.

Here are just two examples:

Community cats wiping out birds: Some reports from bird conservation groups have suggested outdoor cats are responsible for the destruction of 3.7 billion birds in the United States. According to data from Anne Beall’s book Community Cats: A Journey into the World of Feral Cats, 32 percent of what outdoor cats kill are birds, but most cats don’t kill birds or at least not very often. Community cats have been around for a long time, and in the United States there may actually be fewer community cats.

Scientists not involved on either side of the argument agree that habitat destruction, light and air pollution, and climate change are the biggest ones to blame — and the issue is global because many songbird species migrate.

Toxoplasmosis: Reports of schizophrenia occurring in adults, and particularly in children, as a result of cats carrying toxoplasmosis keep popping up. Sadly, some consider these reports credible despite the lack of documentation in a peer-reviewed journal. Or even careful reading. For example, one study noted children with schizophrenia are more likely to have cats. But even the study’s researchers conceded they were not in any way suggesting a link to cause/effect.

The real truth is that a specific series of events must occur in order for any person to contract toxo from a kitty. The cat must be infected in the first place, and most cats (in the United States) are not infected with the organism, especially as most U.S. cats live indoors (71 percent in 2016 according to the 2017-1018 American Pet Products Association’s Pet Owners Survey). Cats can only pass the disease seven to 14 days their entire lives (when there’s an acute infection and the organism is in what is called the oocyst stage).

If the cat is shedding the organism (one of those seven to 14 days), all you need to do is to scoop daily because it takes at least a day and typically several days for the virus to become infectious to people.

Now, if that does happen to someone who is pregnant, it’s very true that an infected unborn baby can suffer severe harm during the first trimester of pregnancy. Of course, avoiding this even remote possibility makes sense, but this is as simple as scooping promptly with gloves and hand washing, or having another household member scoop. (See the Center for Disease Control and Preventions FAQ on toxoplasmosis at cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis.)

Why do people hate cats? Because they’re a little difficult to understand.

Why do people hate cats? A part of the problem is that we understand and therefore trust dogs. Maybe we’re “born that way,” as another philosopher and music artist Lady Gaga suggests. Cats are less understood, and we don’t like all their habits — like those darn hairballs or their fondness for cozying up to the one person at the party who is most disgusted by cats. Are they really conniving? Or is it just miscommunications with humans. I suggest it’s our problem, more than the cats.

What you can do … be a cat ambassador

  1. Be respectful. If someone doesn’t like cats, don’t force them to be around your cats. On the other hand, if you love cats and someone is negative and unkind about cats, that’s a big red flag. Never allow a cat to be abused by a hater.
  2. Share the love. Humans fear what they don’t understand. Share funny videos, positive stories and interesting facts with non-cat people. Don’t overshare, as too much can have the opposite effect.
  3. Don’t become a hater. Support cats and people who help cats through kind words and actions.

Thumbnail: Photography by fotostok_pdv/Thinkstock. 

About the author

Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior consultant who’s authored several books, including the e-book Good Cat, and has contributed to many, including The Cat: Clinical Medicine and Management, edited by Dr. Susan Little. He hosts two national radio shows and is heard on WGN Radio, Chicago, and seen on syndicated HouseSmartsTV.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home. 

Read more about cat behavior on Catster.com:

45 thoughts on “Why Do People Hate Cats?”

  1. I loved the cats I met at my office park. I loved them so much that I spayed and neutered 30 cats and fed them well each and every day. I gave them names. They were fully vaccinated. But a biologist named Dave Riensche of the East Bay Regional Parks had a bird agenda and he snuck on the grounds where the cats I loved were and he shot them with a 12 guage shotbun. The parks tried to defend him and said he was protecting birds. It is the biggest lie ever and I am stuck in the middle of it. Knowing my cats suffered from the shotbun kills me and causes so much distress. Hearing lies from the park is sickening. But the worst thing ever has been learning that they have been shooting cats in parks for decades. So sick and sad and cruel. It kind of ruined me.

    1. Nice! That's awesome. I hate cats, especially feral ones. Dave must be like a good guy.

      haha and you spayed and neutered them lol. how much did that cost you?

      Feral cats are a wild invasive animal, they are not pets.

      Good job Dave, I hope you keep it up

  2. I meant to respond to a different person. Anyway, yeah, I agree, many dog owners like to impose their dogs. And they don’t care if you afraid of them or dont feel comfortable

  3. Sorry I meant to reply to a different person. And i agree, dog owners like to impose their dogs who even run unleashed

  4. Pingback: How to be independent and happy like your cat! : Moonwalking to Joy

  5. Very late post, but I wanted to chime in.

    If someone doesn’t like cats, don’t force them to be around your cats
    Unfortunately, that’s what dog owners tend to do. Due to scary close calls as a kid, I’m afraid of big dogs. Way too often, a dog owner is walking his/her pet, I back away slowly, and the owner says “Don’t worry he’s friendly” as they approach with their animals.

  6. Further…and so sorry for all the cats who are mistreated – I have lost a few.

    The bird thing, a 92 year old German-Dutch friend insists that it is ‘in their nature’ and my parents who are younger than her but elders also would say this.

    So, when humans hunt to survive, noone says ‘it was in their nature’…or when dogs go after birds…no just poor cats.

  7. I frankly do not like dogs;i do not hate them ,I just do not like them. ,they are SOOOOO NEEDY. Cats can be left all day and are fine.You can go out of town for a coupe of days and leave plenty of food,water and a clean box and all is well. Ours ADORE us, they come when called, are loving and are INDOOR

    1. i have never understood how any cat lover can leave a cat alone for days on end even with food and water. none of my 17 cats have ever been “fine” when left alone.

    2. not giving my name

      i applaud you for giving reasons for why you don’t like dogs. my parents simply say they hate cats, but they can’t come up with a reason why they don’t like them. it’s very frustrating.

  8. People are more like dogs? LOLOLOL!
    We wish we could be trained and be as helpful as dogs *can* be (if given the attention).

    People are more like cats.
    or cats are more like people.
    We’re temperamental and finicky. We do what we want, when we want!

    Anyone else see this?

  9. I feel that the people who don’t like cats never had the opportunity to have one as a pet growing up which is most likely because their parents didn’t care for cats, which is the reason for not ever knowing what a cat is really like. And it carried over to adulthood and if asked why don’t they care for cats, they really don’t have a solid honest answer. And I think if they are a true animal lover, then why not adopt a kitten or cat that is in need of a home and determine for yourself whether cats are really how you thought they would be and form your own opinion. It’s unfair that they are so misunderstood. Cats are one of the greatest companions a human could ask for and its unfortunate that many humans won’t even give it a chance, but it’s their loss not ever having the opportunity to share such a very short part of their lives with such an amazing animal. There is one thing that I really despise hearing from people is when they distinguish that they are either a “cat person” or a “dog person”!! If you can love one of these animals, you could love the other, just give it a try otherwise keep the “cat/dog” person thing to yourself, it only shows ignorance, especially if you’ve never tried it. “Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it”, is so true which is why it’s a famous saying everyone knows about, because it makes sense and is very true.

  10. There are some people who are psychologically afraid of cats–a lady I once knew said she was terrified of cats, and I asked her did you have a bad experience with one, and she said no. She didn’t know why she was afraid, she just was. Cat Fancy (now Catster) once had an article on this several years ago.
    In the matter of the murdered cat, SPCA should have been told about the crime.
    I can’t understand how cats, who cannot fly, can kill so many birds as they are claimed. Birds fly, I’m not aware of there being any ground-dwelling birds that live in the U.S. apart from domestic fowl that a cat could get to. But the 5G cell towers, loss of habitat, pollution, etc. sound very logical to me.

    1. Lol, Cats are amazing hunters, my grandpa had many birdfeeders in the backyard and was a birdwatcher, my grandmother had cats she frequently allowed outside, the cats find a good spot and await the moment to pounce the bird feeder or a branch from whatever perch they found. Happens all the time all over, look it up :)

  11. Why would anybody hate any animal? I am a dog person who is newly a cat owner. While I will probably always be a dog person I like my little kitty a lot, she cuddles, she makes me laugh… again, why would anybody hate any animal is just beyond me.

  12. Why is it that nobody mentions about the benefits of community cats? They do a service …where there are cats, there are no rats!! And that is a fact! Communities people should Get together to manage their cats by spay/neuter/return ( TNR) and take care of their needs for a happy community that keep the place clean of rodents.
    It is not hard to do since there are organizations that help with that! You just have to get in the internet and let your finger do the walking…There are lots of good people who spend their own money helping community cats and nobody appreciate it!

    Also, dogs are terrific pets too, but not all of them are saints. Dogs kill, specially big dogs!
    It does not matter how good you are to them and how well behaved they are…..some of them flip on their owner or family child. That is a fact!!
    No matter what pet we have, we should know before we adopt the nature of the animal…., if you adopt a big high maintenance dog and don’t make sure he get the daily walk and exercise, depending on the breed, you will be on top of something bad happening.,.a frustrated dog could be dangerous!
    On the other hand if you like cats but have it as an “in and out cat” because you do not want to have a litter box in your house, you are no doing the cat any favor or the birds for that matter. Feral cats for the most times hide during the day and go around at night….no birds then! The cats that kill birds are the “in and out cats”… and they too are exposed to accidents and bad people. If you love your cat of dog give it what it needs!

  13. I think another reason cats are so disliked by some people in general is because of the negative way they are portrayed in some movies, cartoons, and other media. They’re often shown as mean, conniving, arrogant etc. and these portrayals can influence peoples’ opinions. This is unfortunate because so many people miss out on how awesome cats really are.

  14. Dr. Barrie Trower, former Royal Navy microwave weapons expert and physicist, says birds are dying at a fast rate due to cell towers and soon 5G will be making things worse for the rest of life on earth, including humanity. Bees and other pollinators are also being affected by the radiation from cell towers. Dr. Trower has well documented proof of this.

  15. I have always loved cats. I don’t like dogs. A big dog jumped on me when I was little and ever since then I have been afraid of dogs. My mother didn’t like cats. She was a dog person until my uncle got two cats. Now she is a cat person too.

    1. Wow, a dog jumped on you when you were little. Your reason for disliking dogs is a reason stated in this article for disliking cats. Also, before you yell at me, I was BITTEN by a dog when I was little. I love dogs, but not the one that bit me. I dislike cats because they serve no purpose.

  16. I don’t hate cats. I have 2 beautiful, loving INDOOR cats who are very happy. But what I do hate is people who spread misinformation, like this author. It is indeed true that outdoor cats kill birds. He diminishes the reality that there are 3 billion birds killed by cats.
    Birds are wild animals. Cats are not, and they deserve a loving home indoors free from being run over by cars, catching disease and hateful humans. But they belong INDOORs. I have witnessed first hand of what outdoor cats have done. I had a neighbor that I seen more often than not bring a dead bird on MY front step. In my present home, free roaming cats have terrorized the birds that are trying to feed @ my feeding station. Any person who lets their cats outside are irresponsible and inconsiderate of wild creatures who have every right to live outdoors without being harmed by a roaming cat.

      1. Did you read what they said at all? They said that they DO NOT hate cats! It’s like you didn’t even read the comment at all!

      2. It’s almost like you didn’t read the comment. Read it again, and pay close attention to the first few sentences.

  17. Lorraine A Corso

    I love cats and I rescue ferals and strays alike. I also had a cat that died at 5 years old from Cancer.

  18. Lorraine A Corso

    As an author, the title of your article is very misleading not to mention negative in influencing the reader.

  19. I don’t hate cats!!! I am the proverbial mad cat lady for your information and take in strays. Not all people hate cats!!!

  20. Looking at people who feared or hated cats is great impetus for haters to examine their feelings about the subject. Hitler, Napolean and many other destructive dictators hated cats. Whereas many intelligent, artistic folks loved cats. Just Google cat lovers and you will see. Personally, I don’t hate dogs or any other pets but find cats supremely interesting, multi-dimensional, and loving according to their own personalities. I feel people are missing out because of their prejudice.

  21. Can’t tell (shared to much)

    Unfortunately there are some people who are so afraid of and or so full of hate for cats that they would physically harm them. A couple years ago what was once a beautiful cat was beat to death with a shovel on the grounds where I work. The shovel was left by the poor cat and the person who came across the scene while on a job request was so overcome by the brutality that he puked in the field. We have a large population of cats both feral and not on the grounds. Some people were feeding the cat families at their own expense. It was in one of the feeding areas that the poor cat was murdered. It makes me sick that there’s a chance I could actually know and possibly have dealings with someone that could do such a thing. SPCA was contacted to get the cat population removed but wasn’t told about the violent crime. The SPCA recommended building shelters and putting food in them to get the cats used to living in the controlled area then they’d supply traps to catch and fix the cats and rerelease them. Eventually there would be less and less because there would be no more kittens. The cats being smarter than humans stuck their nose up at the shelters and have never used them. It would have helped if they were designed with a 2nd way in and out. With only one way in and out the cats didn’t trust them. There’s still cat colonies all over the cast acres and I hope that none of them are being hurt or worse any longer. Unfortunately cats are creatures of habit and the places they shelter are also buildings in use that people have to go in on a regular basis to perform job related tasks. One such building is where the poor cat met up with someone with a shovel. That was about 3or 4 years ago and it’s still sickening.
    Another thought on why some people prefer dogs over cats is that a dog will cotne Everytime to its called. Dogs are just loyal that way. A cat lives on its own terms and if it wants your attention it’ll come let you know but when it doesn’t want to be bothered will ignore you. It’s the way of cat’s and you either accept that they’re independent or u out don’t. I like both dogs and cats but have found I’m more a cat person. They can be intertaining in their own right. Th antics they feet up to are sometimes hilarious.

    1. I feel Bad.. My cat is gone . A coyote got him…
      It wil take my brother and I a long time to get over this.. I hope and Pray to God I get a Cat just not too soon while I grieve

      1. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you consider keeping your new kitty indoor only, where you know they will be safe and can live happily with you for many years!

    1. Edna I agree.. I know I dislike Dogs that bark too Much but Ive Adapted… I lost my cat YesterDAY and I barely slept. He lived 19 Years which is great

      1. It’s hard to believe that anyone would hate a cat, but I agree with a lot of what’s already been said: I think it’s because they’re misunderstood. People expect them to be dogs. I often tell people that dogs are angels – they’re pure love – and cats are like people, with personalities, quirks, preferences and moods. I don’t go up to strangers in the street and start rubbing them – I’d be arrested, punched, and likely both – but people who don’t know cats want to do that to a cat and expect them to be small dogs and enjoy the contact. I try to educate friends since I only recently became a “cat person” and now I can’t imagine life without one (or several) around.

        1. Ummm Not true ? You can’t go and rub random
          street dogs either? Have you ever MET a street
          dog? Uh… they do what they want too. If you
          dog comes to when called it’s bc it WANTS to.
          My cat comes when called too! Except for at
          times she was busy or brooding or something.
          They are waY more affectionate than dogs bc
          They PURR & they don’t drool or stink ! Just
          pure affection. Idk what you did wrong that
          makes cats seem less than angelic pure love
          to you, but it’s DEFINITELY you, not them.

      2. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss, Tom. They’re such a big part of our lives. I’m still mourning the loss of my 17 year old, two years later. As my wife says, we’re not supposed to get over it because they’re an important part of our lives. I hope that eventually you’ll smile at your cats funny behavior and the affection he or she gave to you, and take comfort in knowing that you gave your friend a long and happy life.

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