If our feline friends could tell us what they really think, here’s what they’d probably say about some of the things we do that they’re none too happy about…
1. The way you keep the house so tidy
If you’re a fan of decluttering guru Marie Kondo and aspire to a tidy, minimalist home, you can bet your well-thumbed copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that your cat doesn’t feel the same way. As far as your cat is concerned, the more of a hoarder you are the better. If your pad is an eclectic mix of sofas, chairs, footstools, magazine racks and plant pots with piles of cushions and stacks of books, it’s the perfect feline haven. Cats love to roam about inconspicuously, darting from behind the sofa to under the side table, with plenty of places on the way to slinkily slip from view.
2. When you do too much cleaning
For cats, it’s all about smell. Everything and everyone in your cat’s world must be anointed by their unique scent signature. As well as scratching, this is deposited via glands in their face, body and tail, which is why they continually rub around sofas, door frames, table legs, laptop, as well as their humans. By creating and maintaining a pheromone-drenched home environment, your cat feels safe and secure. That’s why, although good hygiene around the home is important, too much cleaning can be quite disturbing for your cat. Make sure any cat bedding provided is washable, but don’t be tempted to clean it too frequently.
3. Telling me not to scratch the furniture
For your cat, scratching stuff is really, really important and it’s an activity that plays a large part in health and wellbeing. When a cat scratches they are stretching muscles and keeping their claws in optimum condition as well as leaving behind their personal scent (they have scent glands between their toes in the pads of their feet) which makes them feel safe. You should never stop your cat from scratching but you can encourage them to use a scratching post rather than the table leg. Find some top tips here
4. Putting all my stuff in one place
Cats can be very fussy about where their resources are located and tend to prefer their food, water, litter tray, scratching post and bed positioned in different locations around the house. In particular, a cat’s motivation to drink is not connected to hunger, so many find it confusing when water bowls are provided next to their food. Often, they will seek out alternative sources – from dripping taps and vases to goldfish bowls. Provide dedicated drinking vessels in alternative locations away from your cat’s dinner and, if your feline pal prefers running water – as many cats do – invest in a pet drinking fountain. If there are any of their resources they’re not using, try moving things around to see if it’s the location that’s the problem.
5. Handing my food to me on a plate
In the wild, cats have to work for their food, which exercises their bodies and stimulates their minds. According to feline welfare charity International Cat Care, cats would naturally spend up to six hours a day foraging, stalking and catching prey, eating around 10 or more mice, probably involving about 30 attempts at capture. Food predictably dished out twice a day in a bowl in the kitchen presents no kind of challenge. Providing it in feeding balls or cat puzzles can deliver a much more exciting and rewarding experience. Find out more here
6. Keeping the garden so neat and tidy
Just like a clutter-filled home, a less than pristine garden will win plaudits from your cat, if not your local gardening club. For a feline-friendly outdoor haven ditch the neat flowerbeds and tastefully trimmed shrubs and opt for tall ornamental grasses, dense bushes, interesting places to climb, hide and scratch along with sprawling sensory plants such as catnip, honeysuckle and sunflowers. Find out more
7. When you don’t listen to me when I’m asking for something
Cats communicating with other cats use a combination of scent signals, body postures and a range of vocalisations including yowling, hissing and growling. However, meowing isn’t one of them. This is something they’ve adopted just for humans. Feline experts believe this is because cats have figured out that feline scenting operates on a level way beyond the capability of the human nose – we’re also not great at noticing the subtle tail swishes and ear twitches of feline body language. However, cats know that the one thing that’s guaranteed to get our attention is a meow. Essentially, meows are demands: Let me OUT. Let me IN. Pet me. Play with me. FEED me! As a cat becomes more insistent, their meows may grow more strident and lower-pitched until they get the desired response from their human.
8. Tickling my tummy when I roll over
When dogs roll over, it’s a sign of appeasement. Cats, on the other hand, are far more complex. When a cat greets its human companion, it makes a display of trust by exposing its belly. A similar friendly ‘roll’ is often seen when one cat solicits play from another feline. However, this is where it gets really confusing for humans. Any physical contact from you at this point may be perceived as threatening. Alternatively, a belly show could be a request for rough and tumble. Either way, it’s a mistake to assume that your cat needs or even welcomes attention from you and, if you can’t resist the temptation to tickle, don’t be surprised if the claws come out.
9. When you change things around
Cats are, by their nature, more independent than dogs – in part because their wild relatives don’t live naturally in the same sort of family groups that canines do. Groups of dogs have to communicate with each other, whereas cats – small hunters who operate alone without back-up – are hardwired to think about number one. That’s why cats have an in-built need to feel in control of their environment and can find change extremely stressful – even a new carpet or sofa can set alarm bells ringing. Help your cat to feel safe and happy by surrounding them with familiar things and keeping their home and routines predictable and consistent.
10. When you pick me up and cuddle me
For some cats, this isn’t a problem, and many are quite happy to be lap cats. Yet for others, the whole cuddling thing is really not appreciated. While touching and stroking are a sign of affection for humans, for cats, a paw approaching them is something to fear, although most learn to put up with our hands reaching down to them from above. And, while humans love to embrace, for a feline, a cuddle can make them feel trapped. That’s why, when cats are held and prevented from having an escape route, they may become fearful or aggressive. For some felines, just spending time in the same room as you is their way of saying they love you.
If you have a cat that’s reluctant about human contact, here’s some expert advice:
- Stay still and let the cat approach you.
- Avoid making direct eye contact as this can be interpreted by a cat as quite threatening.
- If the cat approaches you, speak gently to them and offer them your hand, palm down, to sniff or rub against.
- If they rub against your hand with their chin or cheeks, try gently stroking/tickling around that area, but stop as soon as they move away, allowing them to dictate how much stroking they would like.
- Focus on stroking around the chin and cheeks as this is where most cats like being touched.
- Some cats may prefer to play rather than be stroked, so try swishing a fishing-rod-style toy or throw some treats for them to chase after for some rewarding human-feline interaction.
- Ignore your cat if they are perched on a high place, such as a shelf or bookcase – this shows you are respecting your cat’s desire of liking to be near you while watching the world go by without being seen.
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Sources: icc.org.uk, bluecross.org.uk, cats.org.uk, petguide.com, cathabitat.com.au, wayofcats.com, rspca.org.uk, vetstreet.com, catbehaviourassociates.com, gardeningknowhow.com, rhs.org.uk, gardenersworld.com, battersea.org.uk