If you’re not sure if your cat loves you or if it just tolerates you and wants to be left alone, these twenty ways your cat tries to tell you it hates you may help.
Cats are very good at making it known when they’re unhappy with something or someone, but it can be hard to understand the meaning behind their sometimes-confounding body language and expressions.
1) They’re not as affectionate
While cats may seem more independent than dogs, it isn’t uncommon for cats to be more attached than their canine counterparts.
A cat that doesn’t want attention may have been abused in the past or has some mental health issue. If your cat seems less affectionate lately, it might be a sign that something’s wrong. Keep an eye on your cat and offer lots of love—maybe you can connect with them in a way you hadn’t thought possible before.
2) They keep doing things that annoy you
Look, you love your cat. And they know it. But maybe they don’t care. Maybe they want to drive you nuts, or maybe they’re trying to get a reaction out of you because they sense that something has changed between you and them. Whatever their motives may be, there are a few behavioral clues that mean I hate you in feline speak.
3) They try to appear like they have no interest in pleasing you
Cats are highly skilled at reading our body language and tone. And, since they’re often so focused on getting us to do things for them, like feeding them or giving them attention, they pay close attention to how we react when they do please us.
So if you can’t stand it when your cat purrs in your lap or rubs against your legs while you eat dinner (and yes—it’s impossible not to pet him), he gets it: That’s exactly what he wants from you, and he knows it drives you crazy. Maybe that is why cats tend to be a bit more standoffish with people who don’t much care for them—they’re too invested in people who already love them back.
4) They hide from you or only stay close when they need something
If your cat tends to run and hide from you, that’s usually a pretty big sign they aren’t feeling too good about their relationship with you. They don’t make eye contact: Look into their eyes – cats are affectionate animals, and they greet each other in a particular way.
If your cat isn’t looking back at you (and instead of avoiding your gaze), it could be another signal that they want some space. They never cuddle with you: Cats love being petted, but if yours only stays close when it wants something and doesn’t bother to snuggle up next to you on its own, consider yourself lucky if it happens at all.
5) They always show up on time for dinner
Cats are very picky about their schedule. If you want your cat to like you, be sure to feed them at roughly the same time every day. If you work a long day and miss your kitty’s dinner hour, it may not be happy with you when you get home.
When I worked with clients that had very flexible schedules, they often had cats that didn’t come around as much anymore. Why? Because they were getting fed whenever their owners felt like it. The more of a routine your cat has (not just for food), the happier it will be with its environment.
6) Their eyes say it all
According to our feline friends, we have no clue what we’re doing. Although it might be hard for us to read their subtle body language, their eyes are more than clear—cats’ pupils will dilate if they feel threatened by something.
So if your cat looks you in the eye while his eyes are as big as saucers and won’t turn away, he probably doesn’t like something about you. (I mean, who would?) Unfortunately, his body language doesn’t speak English or any other human language; your cat will have to let out a meow or hiss before he gets how much he dislikes you.
7) They do things right in front of people but mess up when they think no one is looking
If your cat has a habit of making messes in front of people but cleaning up when you’re not around, there’s a chance that they might hate you. If your cat pushes its food bowl away from them at mealtime when you are present and cuddles up with it when no one is looking, then they may want their privacy, so don’t jump to conclusions.
However, if your cat moves out of sight whenever anyone walks by and purrs at friends, strangers, and even other animals (when in your presence), then it’s more likely that they do not like you very much. Cats find pleasure in being loved by others rather than having affection forced upon them.
8) They stop grooming themselves
Grooming is what cats do, so it’s probably trying to tell you something. When a cat stops grooming itself, is it shedding all over your freshly laundered bedsheets? Maybe they are irritated by the way you’re petting them. They stop purring: If Fluffy stopped purring at an especially inopportune time—like during dinner with friends—it might be that they’re afraid they’ll lose your attention if they interrupt dinner with such a loud noise.
Or maybe they’re sick or injured and don’t want you to worry about them. Shedding more than usual: This can mean many things, including stress or illness.
9) They Don’t Relax When You’re Around
Some cats don’t like being around other animals as with their humans. Cats are social creatures by nature, so it may be surprised when your furry pal seems more inclined to curl up in a corner and sulk instead of romping around with another cat.
But remember that not all cats are loners; many prefer close companionship over rough-and-tumble playtime. If you have an anti-social cat, they could very well be looking at you as a hindrance rather than a helpmate.
They Won’t Get Close When You Pet Them: If your cat doesn’t like being touched, they probably won’t let you touch them. This aversion can take multiple forms.
10) They lie down on their backs with their claws out
The cat sits with its hindquarters up in your lap and stretches itself out entirely while you’re petting it. That’s pretty similar to what cats do when they’re dead — on their backs, claws out — so if your cat is doing that, it might be trying to tell you something: namely, that it hates you! Often, a cat will do that when a person’s holding it or petting it. Why? Because that’s a vulnerable position for them.
They don’t want their belly exposed; they want their back protected. So again, if your cat does that from time to time as a gesture of affection (and maybe even comfort), then there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
11) They Poop on your stuff
Now, you may be thinking that a litter box isn’t something you want in your living room, but cats don’t think about it that way.
Once your cat has marked an area as its own, it will typically not use a litter box that someone else has provided. So if your cat starts pooping in places other than its box and outside of a litter box while you are training it, take note: there’s no other explanation besides your cat hates you and wants to poop on things that belong to you.
In general, cats can be pretty rude with their habits, so keep an eye out for these behaviors and remember: they hate us!
12) They keep hiding from you.
Cats hate people that play with them, so if you approach your cat with a toy in hand, it’s likely to run away from you.
The more you chase your cat or try and grab it for some hugs, cuddles, and kisses, the more your kitty will hide from you. Being ignored by a cat can be very frustrating for people, but at least cats have an excuse for their behavior; a study has revealed that felines are prone to depression.
At least then, their behavior towards their owners becomes easier to understand. Just let sleeping cats lie and remember if they run away when you try and play with them, there’s probably a good reason why.
13) They bite you
There’s nothing like a cat bite on your hand or fingers. That’s why every time your cat bites you, they should be punished. Even if it’s just a little nip, make sure you punish them by shouting at them and making sure that they learn never to do it again.
This may seem cruel, but there are many instances in which cats actually get aggressive toward their owners and end up hurting them, sometimes very severely. When that happens, owners often have legal recourse for compensation for medical bills related to their injuries.
14) They Seem friendly with other people
A cat that spends a lot of time with people and other animals may seem like they’re friendly, but they could be just tolerating other beings because they don’t have a choice. Do your cat a favor and stop forcing them to tolerate strangers. Just make sure you set boundaries for guests so your cat can maintain some level of control over its surroundings. Also, ensure you schedule plenty of quality time with your feline friend.
They might not interact much with other people or animals, but if you establish yourself as The One Who Feeds Them and They Sleep On, these barriers will begin to break down over time.
15) They hiss at you
A friendly cat will rarely hiss, but an angry one certainly will. If your cat doesn’t stop hissing at you, it might be trying to tell you something—and it probably isn’t good. After all, a cat that does not like its owner should not live with them.
It could mean your cat doesn’t want anything to do with you, or maybe it’s just acting out in general due to stress or another underlying issue. Either way, if your cat is hissing at you and no amount of attention seems to fix it, don’t ignore the problem — because it can only get worse from here on out.
16) Horizontal Tail When You’re Around
There are at least two reasons for your cat showing off a horizontal tail. The first is an invitation for you to pet it, and if that’s all it wanted, your cat would be in front of you. Since its bottom is facing away from you, there’s a good chance that it’s saying go away by turning its tail horizontal. If you try approaching a cat like that, it will most likely run away or swat at you before quickly running off into another room where it can sulk in peace.
17) Chronic disinterest
One of your cat’s best weapons against you is doing nothing, says Tracie Hotchner, author of Why Does My Cat Act That Way? and a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. The less interested your cat appears in your existence, she explains, the more you’ll want her love. Therefore (and it makes sense), if a cat seems desperate for affection from you, it probably doesn’t actually like you that much.
18) Flattening their ears around you
Some cats will flatten their ears against their head when they’re not happy with you or if they’re feeling afraid. That might sound strange, but it’s a straightforward way for them to show you how they’re feeling: Cats have more muscles in their ears than we do, and they use those muscles like arms. If your cat’s ears are flat against its head while it’s sitting near you, that means it doesn’t want to engage with you. The best thing to do in that situation is to put space between yourself and your cat until it relaxes a bit.
19) The Cat Won’t Touch or Be Touched
If your cat is staying as far away from you as possible, hissing or growling when you try to pet him, he might be trying to tell you that he doesn’t like you, says Dr. Hogenesch.
Your cat could also be uncomfortable around children or a new person in your home. If your feline friend seems wary of affection but acts fine around other humans or animals, he may not like being petted by just anyone. And if there’s only one member of your family who can touch him without getting clawed, that may be a clue too.
20) They stare you down
If your cat stares at you for a prolonged period, she’s trying to exert dominance over you. To get her respect, approach her from above (standing up) and avoid eye contact; if your stance doesn’t deter her, roll up a newspaper or magazine and gently swat her on the back with it (but don’t hit her hard)—a more gentle way of proving yourself as alpha is by giving her treats while she eats.