While all cats are different, there are certain traits common to most felines. Most cats, for example, are united in the things they dislike. Unfortunately, a lot of the things cats dislike are things that that humans do to them, often unaware how much their cats hate it.
To guide cat owners towards more feline-friendly behavior, here are the top ten things humans do that cats wish we wouldn’t.
1. Cats hate loud noises
A cat’s ear is designed to channel sound, and their hearing is much more acute than a human’s. This means that washing machines, shouting, music and phones – not to mention fireworks and family parties – are all things cats hate. Being respectful of a cat’s sensitive ears may help minimize the problem, but cats are also very good at escaping the loud noise and finding somewhere quiet. It is only when the noise is unescapable – fireworks, for example – that the cat’s stress can really increase.
2. Cats don’t like aggressive petting
While some dogs may enjoy a rough back-scratch or enthusiastic belly rub, most cats prefer a gentler approach. Heavy-handed pats, stroking and paw- or tail-handling will make cats feel in danger, and they will either run, lash out with their claws or simply become stressed. Many cats dislike being cuddled, a condition that has a name – feline hyperesthesia. This is particularly common in rescue cats, so always take care when petting your cat – watch its reactions and don’t force the issue. Dressing cats up in supposedly cute outfits falls into this category, too. Make sure everyone in the household, including the children, is aware of these kitty rules.
3. Some cats don’t like to be ignored
While not all cats crave attention, many domestic cats love it – on their terms, and when it suits them. A cat who doesn’t want to be left alone and wants you to stop doing what you’re doing and give them some attention will jump onto your lap or desk and generally get in the way of your hands. In an age of laptops and home-working, many cat owners are very aware of this feline attention seeking, and the demanding pet cat sometimes seems to be a permanent feature of the desk, computer keyboard or sofa!
4. Cats don’t like water
The fact that cats hate getting wet is such a well-known fact that it has become a cliché, but that doesn’t stop it being true! Cats avoid water, hide from the rain and simply hate being showered. As far as a cat is concerned, that all-purpose tongue is quite capable of delivering the perfect cat shower. You should only resort to cat baths or showers when absolutely necessary –to clean something toxic or oily from the fur, or to prepare a cat for a show.
5. Cats hate car rides
Felines often hide under cars when they’re afraid, but most of them do not like car rides at all, and some cats are terrified by vehicles. The combination of motion, loud noises and strange smells is stressful for a cat, and they are also prone to motion sickness. Car rides should therefore be restricted to necessities – for example, trips to the cat vet or to the cat hotel when you’re going on vacation.
6. Cats dislike other pets
Although a kitten that has been brought up with other cats, or even dogs, will tolerate their company, cats need their own territory, and they are also natural loners. Unlike humans – and unlike many breeds of dog – cats do not need a significant other in their lives. You only have to watch how cats react to other cats in their territory – in the backyard, for example – to see how true this is.
7. Cats hate taking medication
You can fool a dog by wrapping a slice of ham around its tablet or mixing its medicine into the food bowl. Cats are more resistant to our efforts to make them feel better, though. Giving a cat tablets involves a coating of butter and some gentle throat massage.
8. Cats won’t use dirty litter boxes
Cats are very clean animals, and will not use a dirty litter box. Regular cleaning of the tray is therefore essential, and fresh kitty litter needs adding regularly to keep everything smelling nice and fresh. People often ask “what smells do cats hate?”, and the answer “cat pee and cat poop” is high on the list (along with air fresheners, incense and peeled citrus fruits!)
9. Cats should never be given physical punishment
This is one that a cat is unlikely to forgive a human for. A cat should be dissuaded from unwanted behavior by making a not-too-loud noise, such as hitting your hand with a rolled up magazine or clapping (but, again, remember that they dislike loud noises too). Any physical chastisement will break the bond of trust between cat and owner.
10. Cats need their own space
A cat’s bed, favorite hideaway or quiet corner of the backyard should be areas where humans never intrude. Children need reminding of this, as their instinct may be to pluck the cat from its bed and give it a cuddle. Once again, cats have a territorial nature and need their own quiet spots and safe zones, where they can unwind.