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Why Does My Cat Ignore Me? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

young cat owner playing with her pet at home

Why Does My Cat Ignore Me? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons & What to Do


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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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 four reasons your cat may ignore you, what you can do about it, and when to get worried.

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Top 4 Reasons Why Cats Ignore Their Owners

1. They May Be Scared or Stressed

Cats may get scared by objects, people, and animals that we may not be aware of, or they could get skittish after exposure to stressful situations when we’re at work or away from home. This could cause them to be withdrawn when we try to seek their attention, leaving the impression that they’re ignoring us.

It may be as simple as a quarrel between cats from the same household, you stepping on your cat’s tail accidentally, neighborhood cats entering your home through the cat flap or hanging around the yard, or loud construction work nearby. Some cats are more sensitive to noise and changes in their environment than others and may react differently. Sometimes, chronic changes in the environment, such as getting a new pet or the arrival of a child, may lead to long-term stress in cats that causes various changes in their behavior.

They may also be uncomfortable around visitors or children, and if you adopted your cat as an adult, they may have had unpleasant experiences with their previous family. If your cat is easily scared of other animals or loud noises or they do not get along well with other cats in the house, you may find them more shy and private after such unpleasant experiences.

They may 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.

If they are not getting back to normal within a few hours or they go off their food, consult with your vet. If you have multiple cats in the house and they are not getting along well, consider pheromone diffusers, and provide plenty of enrichment and resources for each cat, like bowls, toys, litter boxes, scratching posts, etc. Seek veterinary or feline behaviorist advice.

owner calming his at
Image Credit; 毛 祥, Unsplash

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. They will also rely on scent, and if their vision or hearing decline has been gradual over weeks and months, they will likely learn to cope very well, maybe even without you noticing for a while that there is a problem.

However, in the case of an acute eye problem or high blood pressure causing retinal detachment, their vision loss may be sudden, and they will struggle to find their way around as gracefully as before, which is a tell-tale sign, alongside changes in the pupil size.

If you believe your cat has a hearing or a vision problem or you notice other unusual behaviors or signs, such as changes in the pupil size, make sure to schedule a vet checkup immediately. This way, your cat can get a prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

3. 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 feline cognitive dysfunction, a condition a lot like dementia in humans, which causes signs like disorientation, confusion, 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.

Image Credit: FotoMirta, Shutterstock

4. They Want to Be Left Alone

Sometimes, some cats need their peace and quiet. There are times of the day and night when they nap and rest, and they may not appreciate being disturbed. Some cats will crave human company no matter how they’re feeling, while others will prefer some independence and time alone. Both personalities, and anything in between, is fine and should be respected.

However, it’s important to understand and be familiar with your cat’s personality, behaviors, and habits, so you can easily pick up any subtle changes. If your cat has their routine when they eat, play, and nap and they like their privacy during any of these times, be sure to recognize that and not interpret it as being ignored.

If, on the other hand, your cat loves your company at all times and now they’re suddenly hiding more and avoiding your presence, this is likely a sign that something is wrong. It may be combined with a poor appetite, lethargy, and changes in drinking, urination or defecation, or there may not be any other signs that something is possibly wrong, particularly in the beginning. If your usually loveable and friendly cat now behaves as if they want to be alone, this warrants a veterinary check.

If your cat is ignoring you at times and enjoying time to themselves while eating and behaving normally, observe them closely, but it sounds like they may just need a little bit of privacy.

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 may be simply just their way of being independent. If you notice they’re occupied with something else or tend to have 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 some cats.

Also, if your cat is older or ignores you suddenly, especially combined with other signs like poor appetite, lethargy, disorientation, large pupils, bumping into furniture, 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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