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5 Myths About Your Angry Cat and How You Can Help

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Is your cat really mad at you?

Is your cat really mad at you?

Is My Cat Mad at Me?

Why is your cat angry? Well, the truth is, he or she is likely not truly angry, but they may have behavioral issues that make them hard to live with. If your cat displays aggression, scratching, spraying, or other annoying behaviors, it is not likely that the cat is vengeful or feels the need to make your life miserable.

Human emotions and animal emotions are not expressed in the same ways. Cats, however, can feel distress, and with limited ways to communicate with their owner, they may display that stress in what we would consider an aggressive manner.

As much as we like to humanize cats and their emotions, the truth is that their anger comes from a very different place. However, there are ways to help your cat feel calmer and more contented.

Why Do People Think That Cats Are Angry?

Many people might interpret a cat's actions as angry because they correlate to the way a human being acts when he or she is angry. Cats may ignore you, hiss at you, scratch you (or the furniture), and spray.

While this can be frustrating and make the owner feel like the cat is out to make everyone's life miserable, the truth is these behaviors can range from normal to a sign of stress. The causes of stress can range from a change in routine to illness. Knowing what to look for and how to understand your cat can be the keys to making a more peaceful household for you and your cat.

Here are some common cat myths dealing with "angry" or aggressive cats and the real reasons your cat may be displaying these behaviors.

1. My Cat Purposefully Ignores Me When He Is Mad at Me

It's natural to want to attribute complicated human responses to our lovely, feline friends. But the truth is, our cats do not think in the nuanced and complicated ways that we do.

Your cat CAN, however, be upset with you and because of that he or she may hide or not show as much affection.

Or your cat could just be tired and resting.

If you feel like your cat is ignoring you, make sure that he or she doesn't have any health issues.

Check these things and look for any sign of problems or issues:

  • Hearing
  • Vision
  • Physical appearances

And rest assured your cat is not ignoring. He is just being a cat.

Cats have very different reasons for their actions.

Cats have very different reasons for their actions.

2. My Cat Is Not Eating Because She Is Mad at Me

As mentioned above, your cat is not likely to be able to process complicated emotions. But if your cat is not eating, it can be serious.

Here are some real reasons that cats may not eat:

  1. A recent food change
  2. Illness
  3. Hairball or blockage

Cats should not go without food for very long as it can cause damage to their internal organs. If your cat has stopped eating, get her to a vet as soon as possible.

3. My Cat Is Spraying the Furniture Because He Is Mad At Me

Some cats have a tendency to spray things. For most cats, simply spaying and neutering the cat will make this issue go away. But for others, they will continue to spray objects in or around the house.

If your cat is spraying, it may be a sign of

  • Stress
  • Habit
  • Illness

It is important to consult with a vet about the possible reasons for spraying. There are external and internal medications that may help to discourage your cat from spraying.

He is not spraying to be bad or to get back at you. He is simply spraying because it is an instinct and a habit.

It's important to recognize signs of stress in your cat.

It's important to recognize signs of stress in your cat.

4. My Cat Is Scratching or Biting Because She Is Mad at Me

A cat that scratches or bites may feel stressed, cornered, frightened, or confused. Scratching or biting are natural reactions to these triggers.

However, a cat does not hold a grudge and bite or scratch to get back at the owner for a past event. If they continuously feel stressed or threatened though, they may get in the habit of reacting this way.

As a cat owner, it is also important to make a distinction between play-biting and a real bite. Some cats, especially younger ones, may playfully nip at their owner as a sign of affection. Usually, the bite is not hard and the cat is not giving other signs of distress like flattened ears and a puffed tail.

If your cat bites or scratches, firmly tell it no and remove yourself from its presence. You can also consult your vet for some ways to redirect your cat when they want to bite or scratch.

5. My Cat Is Hiding Because He Is Mad at Me

Your cat may very well hide in response to something you do. Cats can make associations. For example, if you get out the cat carrier and your cat associates that with a trip to the vet, she may run and hide.

Or, if you go on trips and the cat associates a suitcase with his beloved owner being gone, he also may hide.

But if your cat is hiding and there is not a real trigger, he or she may be sick. Cats naturally want to hide when they are feeling bad. This comes from their wild instincts. Animals in the wild that are sick hide in order to protect themselves from predators.

If your cat has started hiding, it is important to get a complete check-up with the vet to rule out an underlying illness.

Cats Can Suffer From Mental Illness, Too

With all of this said, cats can have mental illnesses and disorders just like people. Most commonly they may suffer from some type of anxiety disorder.

I have a cat that came from the shelter at 4 years of age. His history before that time was unknown. He has many issues including biting, scratching and spraying. After trying other methods, the vet put him on a low dose of human Prozac. Within a few days he had calmed down, stopped spraying and was much happier.

If your cat is acting strangely, don't just assume that they are being bad on purpose or that they want to upset you. There may be a real issue making them act the way they do.

Animals With Disorders

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2014 L C David


Ghaaz B from The internet on December 05, 2014:

Good call.. I hate when people attribute human emotions to their animals and then get angry with them/blame them for things.

You live with an animal; it doesn't know English, it probably doesn't have other animals like itself to interact with, and it definitely relies on you for everything. If you can't be intelligent and responsible enough to understand how that relationship works, you just can't own an animal. :)

This from a lifelong dog owner, but my gf loves cats!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on December 05, 2014:

Congrats on HOTD! Awesome job!

We have 7 cats, and have seen the full gamut of these behaviors. Luckily, all of ours were spayed/neutered very young before the spraying instinct came into play.

All but one, who was a stray who came to us at about 8 months old. While he does not spray around the house, he did (about 3 times a week!!) raise up his rear while using the litter box, resulting in "overspray" that would run under the box.

Problem addressed by putting 2 of their boxes in the bathtub in the guest bath (we never have overnight guests), and in the master bath, I just recently bought a large storage crate, and cut down one side for an entry. Now, if he does that, it is still within the box!

As far as biting: cats will give 'love bites,' and you CAN tell the difference. It might hurt a little, but will not break skin. The worst thing to do is to yank your hand away, for then, it will be YOU who have scratched yourself against his teeth!

Our remedy for anything resembling a real bite, or a 'too hard' love bite is to do the opposite of instinct, and stuff our finger even further into his mouth--then, they cannot 'spit you out' fast enough!

The same kitty that had the overspray problem has always been a bit skittish. We don't know how long he was outside. He may have been dumped, as his behavior was never feral--he was friendly and approachable. But, the other night, he tripped me, and in such a way that my shin and his head made hard contact. I felt awful. And yes, he hid from me, and I had a lot of trouble catching him for cuddles and an apology. I think he learned a lesson, though--now, he takes off fast if we come in his direction. No longer right under our feet. What my husband calls "a bump of knowledge."

Voted up, interesting, awesome, useful, pinned and shared around!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on December 05, 2014:

Thanks for emphasizing the fact that cats don't behave contrarily due to "being mad." Dogs are similar in that respect. It is so easy for humans to interpret animal behavior in terms of human behavior which is a true error and one that can destroy the human/animal bond. Voted up and useful. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

Allison Loker on December 05, 2014:

Great hub and fantastic advice. You obviously know what you're talking about and I hope it helps some frustrated cat owners out there! Congratulations on HOTD!

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 05, 2014:

Congratulations on HOTD!

David Stone from New York City on December 05, 2014:

A smart, well informed hub. You've made common sense out of what many people find confusing. If I may, I'd like to add another element that often gets missed. Cats are dependents try to communicate needs and preferences in whatever ways they have available. They can't type us a note, after all. We knew one cat, for example, who suddenly started peeing outside the litter box, progressively until he dampened our friends wallet. (The story of his rinsing his money is hysterical.) What the cat objected to was a new, lemon-scented air freshener near the litter box. When it was moved, he returned to normal. That said, it should be understood than many cats are born con artists and will keep probing to see what works in getting what they want and aren't going to get otherwise.

Terrific hub. Nice work.

poetryman6969 on December 05, 2014:

Crazy catz! Some folks forget that cats do cat things. Which may or may not readily translate into humans doing human things. Good luck with you cat.

Lee Hansen from Vermont on December 05, 2014:

My daughter's cat definitely had a breakdown after the birth of my granddaughter, then loss of her litter mate of 10 years. She would defecate on my daughter's bed and in spots all around the house in plain site. After the death of the less dominant cat from cancer, she got reclusive and would stay in the closet most of the day. Daughter had a second child after 5 years of trying to understand and cleaning up, so we adopted the cat. In about 3 months she became her old self - stopped hiding, used only the litter box, and bonded with my husband by crawling into bed with him one night and she's been happy ever since. Glad we tried the cat whispering therapy on this kitty; so is my daughter. Cats do get upset, and they let you know it.

Besarien from South Florida on December 05, 2014:

I have had cats in the family my whole life, usually two or more at a time. Anytime a cat changes her behavior, I take her to the vet to have her checked out. When she pees where she shouldn't it has always been a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or kidney related problem. When he has stopped eating it is an impacted hair ball, other benign blockage, or cancer. When cats have taken swipes out of the blue and hissed at us, they were in pain- often arthritis or back problems, sometimes injuries from falls.

You are absolutely correct that cats are communicating as best as they can, asking for help and understanding. I have never known a cat who was a hypochondriac. Usually they do their darnedest to be stoic and hide maladies until they heal or their conditions get very bad. Best to take them in to get checked out at the first sign of trouble. If you catch things early you can save money, their pain and suffering, and sometimes even your cat's life. Great hub! Thank you for loving cats enough to write it :)

mySuccess8 on December 05, 2014:

A big part of being a loving cat owner is the ability to understand the cat’s behaviour, which can be affected by the cat’s surroundings, health, and past experiences, and how the cat owner gives attention to the cat’s needs. You have given great tips on how to be aware of these common behavioral issues and how to deal with them. The attached video extended the discussions to different animals, and this makes this Hub a very interesting one. Congrats on Hub of the Day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 14, 2014:

I used to have a cat who very much seemed to be harboring a grudge against my husband. I would put clean clothes from the dryer in the floor to be folded, including a load of his work clothes which always got washed separately from other clothing. She would only pee on his clothes. Terrible habit. When we moved, she hopped up on the bed on his side (of course) and peed directly on him, right through the covers. I kept both the cat and the husband, haha.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 16, 2014:

LC, I only had a cat show her dissatisfaction (anger, hurt) with me once. It was many years ago and I had only one cat. I don't even remember her name right now. Anyway, I was packing to go away for the weekend. She knew it and wasn't pleased. I had my suitcase sitting on the floor, getting ready to pack it when she hopped inside, looked dead at me and peed in the bottom! She was definitely pissed.

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 16, 2014:

I don't have a cat (I'm definitely more of a dog person), but I enjoyed reading this. Sounds like good info for cat owners to have.