Every time I see one of those articles or memes about cats being jerks, I cringe. (Which is better than my human’s reaction — I can see steam coming out of her ears!) When someone says their cat is a jerk, it says more about them than it does about their cat.
The truth is, cats are almost never jerks. Of course, some cats that are jerks just like some people are jerky. But I’m not talking about bad personality traits, which are not as common in cats as they are in people. What I’m referring to is the fact that people misunderstand their cat’s behavior and put a negative spin on it. Usually the reality involves a difference in communication, or ignoring a cat’s essential needs.
So before you start calling your cat a jerk for behaving a certain way, check the reasons below. You may see where you are misunderstanding their signals, or where you may actually be playing a part in their supposedly bad behavior.
Reasons You Cat Is NOT a Jerk:
- Your cat is bored.
If your cat is knocking things on the floor, repeatedly jumping on surfaces where you don’t want them to be, causing a ruckus at night, or otherwise being a troublemaker, they could be bored.
Are you playing with your cat on a daily basis? Or at all? Do you know what games they enjoy the most? Put your cat on a regular play schedule, and make sure it’s quality time. A rambunctious cat needs exercise and interaction. Don’t let them figure out their own fun, or you will suffer the consequences.
- Your cat is stressed out.
Is your cat having litter box issues? Are they avoiding the litter box or peeing by the windows of your house? Maybe peeing on your belongings? These could be signs of stress.
The issue of litter box avoidance is too big and complex to address in this blog post. But instead of getting mad at your cat, start examining when and where they are eliminating. Their actions tell a story that will help you figure out what’s up.
Are aggressive neighborhood cats giving your guy stare downs through the windows? Is another cat in your household attacking your cat when they try to use the litter box? Did you change the brand of litter recently? Did you change your life (thus your cat’s life) recently? Any of these, and more, could cause your cat’s litter box issues. The more you know about what’s going on, the better equipped you will be to solve the problem.
- Your cat is sick.
Another cause of litter box issues is illness — anything from arthritis to urinary tract problems. Being in pain could also be a a reason your cat suddenly starts lashing out at you. Many changes in behavior could be caused by disease or being sick.
If your cat is acting out in ways that they haven’t before, it’s always a good idea to take them to the veterinarian. Even if you think it’s a behavior issue. Cats tend to mask their illnesses until they can’t anymore, and the only way they will tell you something is wrong is by acting out. A lot of times it’s unintentional. They just do it because they feel awful.
One big note here: If your cat is struggling to urinate, or has bloody pee, take them to the vet, or the emergency vet now. Literally, put down this post and go! It could be a life threatening situation.
- You missed your cat’s signal.
Do you have one of those cats who seemingly enjoys being petted, then suddenly bites you and runs off? Not jerky behavior at all. You cat had been giving off signals that they were getting overstimulated — and you missed them.
A flipping or thrashing tail, twitching skin, a light tension that wasn’t there before — all these are signals that your cat is getting overstimulated. So are low, quiet growling or purring very loudly, almost like there is a growl underneath the purr. Yes, some signals may be subtle, but they are there, and you should learn how to recognize them. Not all cats get overstimulated (I don’t!), but those that do will tell you, if you are able to watch and listen.
If a cat is truly aggressive, several things could be at the bottom of this. They are feral, in which case they need lots of patience and very careful handling. Or they have a neurological issue, which means you need to get them to a veterinarian to be evaluated.
- Your cat doesn’t have a scratching surface that makes them happy.
You say you have a cat tree or scratcher and your cat still claws your sofa or favorite chair? That scratcher or cat tree is lacking something that your cat needs in a scratching surface.
A good scratching surface needs several elements to be pleasing to a cat. And it’s different for every cat. The elements are a) scratching surface (cardboard, carpet, sisal, etc.), b) level of scratching surface (horizontal, vertical, angle, or a combination), and c) location (near a window, in a high traffic area, near sofa or other place cat is already scratching, etc.).
Figure out what’s lacking in your house, and meanwhile make the surfaces you don’t want your cat to scratch less appealing. Move the couch, cover up the scratched areas, clean them with a citrus scented cleaner. This all takes a bit of research and work, but you and your cat will both be happier in the long run.
Bonus reason: Your cat is a tortie.
Tortoiseshell cats live in their own world, run by their own rules. They are not jerks. You just haven’t learned to abide by their regulations. Once you’ve learned to obey, your problems will be solved.
I hope these helped prove cats aren’t being jerks! Have you ever been frustrated by your cat’s behavior? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
Here are other posts about cat behavior you may find helpful:
Autor Summer Samba