Editor’s note: This is part two of a story that originally appeared in the May/June 2016 issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.
Cats have a different set of rules than we do, and if you aren’t paying close attention, you might miss those subtle signs that you’re making your cat mad. There are some universal things that tick off just about every cat on the planet. If you understand these things, you’ll probably avoid upsetting your cat about 98 percent of the time.
1. Touching her feet
Feline feet are sensitive, and those little pink paw pads can even be a bit ticklish. Cats use their feet and claws to defend themselves, so you might trigger the “fight or flight” reflex when you touch them.
With some time and patience, you can gradually get your cat accustomed to having her feet touched. Choose a time when your cat is relaxing on your lap, then touch and gently squeeze her feet just for a moment. Hold them for a moment or two, then stop. Do this daily, and soon you should be able to touch those cute feet without starting a war. This exercise will also help her become accustomed to her feet being touched so you can clip those claws.
2. Neglecting the litter box
If there’s one thing that will universally upset every cat, it’s a dirty, stinky litter box. I’ve met a few people who don’t scoop daily – or worse, they don’t scoop at all but dump out the used litter weekly instead.
Cats can be finicky about where they will “go” and where they won’t. Their sense of smell is 14 times greater than ours, so imagine what they smell when the box goes unscooped for even a day. (Outhouse!) It won’t take your cat long to find another place to “go” and, believe me, the place she chooses will not make you happy. Do yourself, and your cat, a favor, and scoop that box daily.
3. Providing no means for stimulus or activity
If you come home from a long day at work to find that your cat has run amuck, knocking things over and making a general mess of your house, I guarantee that she’s trying to tell you something: She is bored.
As a cat behaviorist and cat-sitting company owner, I’m amazed at the number of homes I visit that don’t even look as if a cat lives there. No toys, no cat trees, no kitty beds, no scratching posts — nothing that welcomes the feline soul and makes her feel like a part of the household. This really sets your cat up for failure, as she will find other things to keep her feline curiosity satisfied.
Cats need things in their environment that not only keep them occupied but that also allow them to use their natural feline instincts as they would in nature. Cats need to climb so they can observe the world; cat trees and/or climbing shelves are essential. Cozy cat beds, toys, and scratching posts will keep your kitty from destroying your furniture, unraveling your toilet paper, or otherwise causing damage to the things in your home.
4. Move her when she’s sleeping
Shoo your cat away from her warm comfy napping spot, and you are likely to invoke “the glare.” You know that look – the one that tells you that you just ticked her off and you’d better beware.
You might discover that your cat often naps in a place where you spend a lot of time. Truly, it’s a compliment: She chooses those spots because she can smell you there, and it gives her great comfort to feel close to you.
My cats are very good at giving me the glare when I scoot them from my office chair so I can work. I do have a few comfy kitty beds on my desk, so the cats are often happy to curl up in one of those instead. Offer your cat a comfy alternative to your chair, and she won’t stay mad for too long.
5. Leaving without a trace
I don’t travel often, but I remember one trip in particular when I was away for eight days. Although my kitties were well cared for by one of my staff members, my Sadie made it a point to demonstrate her displeasure. Once I arrived home and sat down on my sofa, Sadie sat on the arm of the sofa with her back to me for about two hours to let me know she was most displeased.
Of course, there will be times you must travel, so be prepared to be met with glares and stony silence while you’re preparing to leave and once you arrive back home.
To help soothe your cat while you’re gone, leave something you’ve worn and spread it out on your bed to help your kitty feel your presence while you are away. This especially helps cats who experience separation anxiety. Be sure the person taking care of your cat gives her lots of love and attention, so the cat won’t be quite so lonely without you there.
I can’t guarantee I have covered everything that could make your cat mad. Every cat is an individual and responds to things in her own way. But I hope I have helped you unlock some of the feline mystery that surrounds those pouty kitty glares and angry swats that we sometimes unwittingly evoke, as we are merely the humans who love them.