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Why Does My Cat Ignore Me? 5 Common Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

young cat owner playing with her pet at home

Why Does My Cat Ignore Me? 5 Common Reasons & What to Do

When it comes to pets, cats are unique. They can be independent, aloof even, and have different body language than dogs or humans. Other than the needier cat breeds, cats typically seek out attention when they want it, not when you do.

In fact, you may find that your cat acts like the cool, mean girl and ignores you when you seek attention, but they’re not necessarily being rude. Here are five reasons your cat may ignore you and what you can do about it.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Cats Ignore Their Owners

1. They Want to Be Left Alone

Cats are often prized for their independence. Unlike other pets that are more high-touch, cats can be left for long periods with food, water, a litter box, and some toys. They’re ideal for people who are away from home a lot. However, the other side of that is that cats have their own space, moods, and emotions, so they’re not quick to jump at any plea for attention. They likely want to continue exploring, eating, napping, or doing whatever else they’re doing instead of coming to you.

If your cat is ignoring you and enjoying time to themselves, leave them be. Don’t get insulted. They’ll want you for something eventually, even if it’s just to refill the food bowl.

owner calming his at
Image Credit; 毛 祥, Unsplash

2. They May Be Scared

Cats are predators for small animals, but they’re prey for larger ones. Some cats will ignore something they perceive as a threat or that they fear. If you’ve punished your cat by yelling, scolding, swatting, hitting, or spraying them with water (or their previous owner did), it’s natural for them to feel fearful of your attention. They don’t know if you are calling them over for affection or if they’re going to be punished, so they prefer to ignore you until you go away.

If this is the case, you may find that your cat will run away or hide if you continue to pursue attention. It’s best to give your cat some space and wait for them to come to you, then make sure your interactions are always positive. Be the source of all the good things.

3. They Could Be Stressed

Cats can seem aloof, but they’re really very sensitive animals. It’s easy to offend or insult your cat with simple things like smelling like another cat or dog, accidentally bumping them when you were moving around the house, or rearranging the furniture in a way that’s displeasing.

They take that stress to heart, not to be spiteful, but to wait it out and adjust to the situation. They’ll get over it eventually, but it may take some thought on your part to figure out what triggered the attitude. You can try bribing your cat with treats or play to get back in their good graces.

Image Credit: FotoMirta, Shutterstock

4. They May Struggle to See or Hear You

If your cat is getting older or has poor eyesight or hearing, it’s possible that they don’t know you’re looking for attention. They may not be ignoring you at all but rather not realize you’re calling or beckoning to them.

If you think this is the case, make sure to move slowly and deliberately to ensure your cat is aware of you but not startled. Then, they have the option to come to you or continue to ignore you. If it becomes an ongoing pattern—or you notice other unusual behaviors—make sure to schedule a vet checkup.

5. They May Be Sick

Cats often become more standoffish if they’re not feeling well. This could be because of a health problem that causes pain or lethargy, or it could be related to age. Cats can develop a condition a lot like Alzheimer’s in humans, which causes signs like disorientation and anxiety.

If your normally social cat is suddenly hiding out more and ignoring you, it may be time for a checkup. Cats are good at hiding illness and pain, so they count on you to notice subtle signs and get them the help they need.

man petting a sick siberian cat
Image Credit: Olesya Alexandrova, Shutterstock

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My Cat Has Ignored Me for a While. Should I Start to Worry?

For the most part, your cat ignoring you is simply just their way. If you notice they’re occupied with something else or tend to be a more independent personality, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern.

However, if your cat ignoring you is out of character, it’s best to investigate. Have you had any major changes, such as remodeling your home, bringing in new pets, changing the furniture, or bringing home a new baby? Changes like this can be stressful and disruptive for a cat.

Also, if your cat is older or ignores you suddenly, especially combined with other signs like low appetite, disorientation, or excessive meowing or howling, it warrants a vet visit to make sure everything is okay.

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Cats can be aloof and sensitive creatures. Usually, being ignored by your cat is just par for the course, and they’ll come to you when they’re ready. However, if your cat suddenly ignores you or displays other concerning signs, it’s best to investigate with your vet.


Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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