Some pet owners may believe there is no such thing as “too much fuss,” but there most definitely is when you own a cat. They are notorious for being fiercely independent and enjoying company on their own terms.
Many felines have a bad reputation and are considered to be villains, in fact, the hashtag “evil cat” has over 200 million views on TikTok. Cat owners generally don’t want to get on the wrong side of their furry friend who aren’t afraid to use their claws and teeth, from time to time.
Recently, Newsweek shared the moment a woman was struck in the face by her kitty and temporarily lost her vision. Accidents like this can be avoided if owners are conscious of their cats’ body language.
Jo Cora Wriglesworth, a certified clinical animal behaviorist who lives in Cheshire, U.K, told Newsweek it is all about body language when it comes to an annoyed cat.
“There are lots of reasons why a cat might be annoyed by an owner’s behavior. For example, frustration occurs if the cat does not get what it wants, such as an owner who tries to cuddle the cat when the cat is clearly a ‘no hugs’ kind of animal.
“Or an owner who does not provide enough options for the cat to live an enriched life. A large cat living in a small flat for example with no opportunities to climb or hide away or engage in mental stimulation might be frustrated for much of the time which will often lead to grumpy behavior,” she told Newsweek.
Hissing is an obvious sign of annoyance from a feline but sometimes it’s not so obvious. Wriglesworth, the founder of digital artwork company Pup-ai, told Newsweek: “Cats have mastered the art of passive-aggressive behavior.”
“Instead of wasting energy on fighting, they strategically position themselves to block access or intimidate an opponent. For instance, positioning themselves at the top of the stairs can prevent a new kitten from reaching the litter box because the mere presence of the cat and a well-practiced ‘killer stare’ is enough to put anybody off.
“In the cat social structure, a direct and prolonged stare is confrontational behavior that effectively deters rival cats from entering territories and accessing resources, preventing physical fights. Yet, humans often misinterpret this eye contact as an invitation to stroke or even pick up the cat. This misunderstanding can trigger sudden aggression and attacks,” explained Wriglesworth.
Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior
Learning to understand a cat’s body language is a good way to understand its emotional state and avoid conflict. Wriglesworth has shared four types of behavior that indicate your cat is mad at you.
Tail Flicking or Lashing
A cat’s tail is the first sign that your cat is getting annoyed. If your usually calm cat’s tail suddenly starts flicking or lashing back and forth rapidly, it could be a sign of irritation.
Ears Pulled Back
Cats use their ears to express emotions. If you notice your cat’s ears are flat or pulled back against their head, it could indicate that they’re feeling threatened. If their ears turn out to the sides like wings, this is a clear indication that your cat is feeling quite annoyed, and in some cases, this annoyance could escalate into aggression.
When the pupils are large and open, this usually indicates heightened arousal or an intense emotional state, particularly if observed in a well-lit environment. This dilation can result from excitement, fear, aggression or even pain.
A direct, unblinking stare from a cat can indicate that they might be mad at you, but it can also signify focus or curiosity. Interpretation depends on the overall context and body language.
Wriglesworth added: “When interpreting body language, we need to consider various factors that influence the cat’s behavior. For example, a flicking tail might indicate ‘I don’t like you stroking me,’ or it could mean ‘I’ve just seen a bird outside and I feel frustrated that I can’t stalk it.'”
4 Tips To Get Back in Your Cat’s Good Graces
Ultimately, every pet owner wants to give their companion the best life possible. And living in peace and harmony with a cat is possible, especially if you follow these four tips provided by Wriglesworth.
- Avoid getting mad: Yelling at your cat for responding naturally to uncomfortable situations won’t improve their mood. Understanding their body language and letting them decide the extent of contact they’re comfortable with can ease tensions.
- Avoid comforting: If you notice signs of annoyance, attempting to comfort your cat by being nice and stroking them might backfire. Cats can remain highly aroused for hours, so even if the initial trigger is gone, they may react negatively to touch. Just leave them alone and don’t try to help them to calm down or you might be the one needing support.
- Get a vet check: If your cat’s behavior shifts without apparent environmental changes, such as a new cat in the home, consult a vet. Changes in behavior might indicate illness so get this checked out, especially if the cat is hiding more often.
- Professional help: If your cat displays aggression, consulting a clinical animal behaviorist through your vet can provide expert guidance.