Why is my Cat so Mean? The meaning behind “Catitude”

Terry Connor
Aug 20, 2018 · 12 min read

Sometimes, our furry friends might be happy, and they don’t cause trouble. Other times, they can be little monsters that are rude to not just you, but to other animals, or even to other people as well. You may wonder “why is my cat so mean” whenever they’re lashing out at you, and whether or not you can do anything about this. It’s time to understand the meaning behind why your cat may be a little troublemaker right now, and what it means if they’re mean towards you.

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The Difference in Aggression

You have a few different types of aggression, and they are as follows:

  • Fear aggression
  • Territorial aggression
  • Play Aggression

Now if you see aggression while you’re playing with the cat and if they’re mean to you then, that’s nothing to worry about. Usually, if a kitten is playing roughly, it may act aggressively. Some cats, when they want to play, may try to nibble at you when they’re fighting. However, that isn’t real aggression. Usually, that’s playful aggression.

You can tell a cat is playing by the way their face may look, and that’s the following:

  • The mouth is half open
  • They hop or pounce sideways
  • They have their back arched
  • They play quietly

However, if there is real aggression, it may have a couple of other additions to it as well, such as the following:

  • A Bit of growling
  • Hissing
  • Spitting

That’s a bit of a rarity in cats for the most part though.

Fear aggression is done because of insecurity. Yes, cats can be insecure as the rest of us and they show it through aggression in different ways.

Sometimes this fear and insecurity occur with the following:

  • Declawing
  • Bulling
  • Socialization

If you notice that it’s happening you should act accordingly, and we will discuss how to handle that aggression within a cat in the next few sections.

Check Their health

Before we even think about going into other issues, let’s talk about health. When an animal is out in the wild and gets hurt, it starts to hide the underlying pain and problems with aggression. It’s their version of just grinning and bearing it.

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Cats, just like other animals, can’t tell you what’s wrong. But they may try to communicate it in different ways. Aggression is a huge part of this. If a cat starts acting out or even hiding, that is a sign that you as an owner may need to step in. You should bring your cat to the vet if you notice it suddenly happening, since it may be a sign of other major health issues.

There are many different types of problems that can be at the root of the cause here. Health problems period change the behavior of a cat. Some of these problems include the following:

  • A painful infection
  • Metabolic or kidney issues
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Ingesting something wrong
  • Urinary blockages
  • Brain Tumors

You may notice other symptoms however when it comes to a cat acting out. It may not just be it’s being rude towards you, it may actually have other different signs of problems, including the following:

  • Hiding under the bed
  • Missing the litter box
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain, such as lashing out if you touch them there
  • Diarrhea
  • Other behavioral changes

All of these could be the reason why your cat is being mean to you. It’s not even you, it’s just that they’re in ungodly pain.

Don’t Declaw your Cat!

This is something that you really can’t stress enough. This is actually a huge sign of aggression in cats because when you declaw, it’s like in humans taking off the finger all the way to the final knuckle. They’re missing a part of their appendages, and if you were missing something like that then you probably would be howling in pain too and lashing out.

Declawing your cats creates other problems as well besides behavioral issues, and it includes the following:

  • Lack of balance, or posture issues
  • Pain in the toe area
  • Possible infection, especially if they use the guillotine saw to do away with it
  • Tissue necrosis
  • Lameness
  • Extreme back pain
  • Regrowth of claws improperly
  • Nerve Damage
  • Bone Spurts

So, if your cat is lashing out it may be that, which if you already did declaw them, it is a bit too late to do anything about it. But if you’re worried about your cat becoming a bit rude and mean towards you, it’s best to let these little guys keep their claws and either trim them or give them scratching posts and trees to help with getting that out of their system. Pairing it with catnip and toys will help prevent it from getting worse for them.

Bullying

Bullying does happen to animals, not just humans. But it may not be bullying from another cat. It can be from a dog, another animal, or even kids. Lots of times, cats will usually stay passive when it comes to people bothering them. Usually, they don’t mind it, but they may end up hitting that “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment and if that’s the case, they may start to be rude towards you.

Cats do this because it achieves the following:

  • It’s a form of defense
  • It’s basically telling them to knock it off
  • It is a way to cope with the situation
  • They may be scared and are trying to protect their life, as in the case of a child that manhandles cats too much

Usually, this begins with scratching, biting, and then lashing out at anyone who bothers them. That stage is the worst because it’s very hard to get out of that, and if they see you as a predator, it can be a bit of a problem.

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The best thing to do is to socialize the animals better. If your kid is bothering the cat, tell them to knock it off and do punish them accordingly. Remember cats are very independent, so if they don’t want to be around people to help them understand that. If it’s a dog or other animal keep them in separate rooms and let them get used to one another’s senses. If the dog is antagonizing the cat, have the right means to put them in another room.

With another cat, this can be hard, because some cats get jealous. Fortunately, there are a few ways to really help with a cat that’s acting out, such as the following:

  • Give them lots of perches such as cat trees, so that they can retreat and not have to be confrontational with the other cat
  • Have some hideaway boxes to help them cope
  • Give them places with two entrances, which will help keep the aggressive one from the bullied one, and keep the bullied one safe
  • If you see them bullying the other cat, spray them since cats react well to spray bottles

Bullying does happen with cats, and it is important that as an owner you stop it before it gets worse.

New Additions

Cats are not the biggest fans of change. Whether it be moving somewhere new, having a new addition to the home, or even having a new schedule, it can make a cat lash out. Changes, big and small, cause cats to become aggressive in many cases. For example, a thunderstorm with a huge bolt of lighting might make the cat both reclusive and scared.

If your cat is being a grump for absolutely no reason, chances are they may not be so keen on the new changes to your home. Think to yourself: what changes did you make as of late? Did you get another cat? Did you start working different shifts and the little guy misses you? Have there been lots of fireworks? Lots of times this can make a cat lash out, and it might be why your cat is mean.

To help them you need to give them a safe space. In this space, you do the following with it:

  • Give them lots of food
  • Give them water
  • Give them a litter box
  • Make sure nobody bothers them
  • Give them some toys and other familiar items to use

This is a huge part of it. Cats don’t like to have changed, and you should make sure that you watch this.

If the change is a new schedule it may be that they’re not cool with you feeding them at different times of the day now. What you can do is the following:

  • Spend time with them when you get home
  • Make sure to give the cat the food that they want at a decent time
  • Reassure your cat that you care about them
  • Give them space to adapt to this

Now with this, it can vary from cat to cat, and if you notice that the cat is getting better, you should encourage this. You can do that with a few things including the following:

  • Their favorite kitty treats
  • Some encouragement

Don’t discipline the cat if they don’t get into it right away. They don’t understand what is happening. In general, they don’t respond to punishments when they happen so avoid that.

Always make sure that you do rule out health changes before any of this. Cats may have a health condition they’re not dealing with and it can be a huge problem for some of them but they don’t know how to really vocalize it.

Your Cat is Bored

Cats do get bored if they don’t have something to do. If they’re left for a long period of time and don’t have the mental stimulation that they need, they essentially become bored. Boredom is one of the surefire ways to make sure that your cat is destructive. You should make sure that you keep your cat occupied in different ways.

If you’re going to be traveling a lot, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Get a pet sitter
  • Get a cat-loving individual to play with the kitty, especially if you’re taking care of a newborn baby
  • Provide new adventures for them
  • Give them new toys

Toys are a big part of this. Cats love small toys, like fake mice and those little balls that they can play with. If they can stalk, pounce, or chases on it, like those feathery toys or the rod toys, you can dangle these and get them interested. A really cheap toy you can get your cats is a cat teaser since they can dangle and your cat will love it. It’s super nice, and it will give your cat the stimulation they need.

You can give the cat new places to look around. Being able to have new adventures is a big part of a cat’s life. Paper bags and cardboard boxes are probably the best. If you want your cat to be super happy, give them a cardboard box. However, I advise against giving a cat a plastic bag. Some cats like to eat plastic and they may end up choking on it, and then other health problems come about.

Now, you should make sure that you play with the cat too. However, when playing with the cat, you want to do the following:

  • Don’t play with just batting the hands and the feet
  • take the attention over to the dangly toy or the favorite toy
  • Do the play sessions when the cat is super active and playful towards you

By giving them reasons not to be bored, they won’t mess up your stuff, and it can majorly help with aggression in cats, especially if they have aggression that is displayed in being a bit rough at times.

Making Your Presence

When it comes to presence, you should make sure that you do this slowly. With cats that need socializing, you will need to make sure that not only do they have some good places to hide away at when things get rough but they also are approached correctly.

Now, when it comes to approaching a cat, you want to have positivity at the forefront of this. For example, you should do the following when approaching a cat:

  • Give them a small cat treat, if you want to start out with baby steps whenever you’re near it
  • If they like wet food, approaching with a can of that will do
  • Even small amounts of lunch meat is a good idea

Remember, some cats are picky, and may only like a couple of different types of food. They may not like lunch meat, but they also may not like cat treats, or they may not like wet food. Essentially, you approach the little guy with the food that will get their attention the most and then go from there.

Now, if your cat is being aggressive, and refuses the idea of you coming near them, don’t fret. That’s kind of normal, and if they start to growl and hiss when you do that, you want to put the treat on a dish, and from there, retreat. It will take a bit, but cats learn from this, and they’ll associate the positive item, which is food, and from there, gain confidence in the way that you are acting.

Exercise The Little Guy!

Another super important thing to consider is exercising. This works for singular cats that are annoying and tearing up the house, and also cats that are bullying other cats. This is because, if they’re not exercised, they’re essentially doing the following:

  • Taking the aggression out on the other cat
  • Using that excessive energy on other items that they shouldn’t be doing
  • They may be upset because they have all this pent-up energy but can’t do anything about it

Cat aggression can be attributed to this, and you can get one of those cat toys, wave it in the face of the cat, and move it about. The cat will start to chase and tease it, and from there, it will distract the cat from it to the point where it won’t be scared. The cat may end up having so much fun that they won’t be scared anymore. If the cat does hiss it can usually be pacified with a treat.

Journal Their Activities

One thing to also remember is if you’re changing the aggression of a cat, you journal their activities. It sounds weird, but a journal will allow you to see the progress of the cat. For example, you can write about the day, and how they acted.

A kitty journal is good, and you can keep information on the following:

  • The cat’s behavior
  • What they did that day
  • Any potential hiccups
  • How they reacted to the other cat
  • Finding out what they like, and what they don’t like

This can be a bit challenging at times but a journal will help with mean cats.

What About Territorial Cats?

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Territorial aggression is a bit different because it’s a bit harder to really fix. Cats can be protective of certain things and that’s essentially what you’re dealing with when you’ve got territorial aggression going on.

Territorial aggression can happen cause of the following:

  • Something they want to protect
  • Altered hormones
  • They have extra energy to put there

With that in mind, definitely watch for this, because as a cat owner, that can be a huge reason why cats are so mean towards you. Cats do need that extra space to perch, hide, and move around, and they can benefit from your actions as well. You can easily help your cat reduce the amount of aggression there with the right activities.

How to make a Cat more Friendly

The best thing to do is to work on helping your cat become more friendly. This is something that’s on the owner more than the cat. You can’t just magically make a cat friendlier. Depending on their age, and the way that they act, this can take time.

With kittens, here is how you make them more friendly:

  • Play with them a lot
  • Handle them nicely
  • Bribe with treats as needed
  • If you’re exposing new people to them, take time, and don’t be forceful
  • Let the cat dictate the comfort zone, and don’t push them out

For older cats the best thing to do is to give them kindness and then do the following;

  • Reward good behavior with love and treats
  • Don’t punish them if they don’t behave
  • Don’t force the cat to be around others, since some cats just aren’t that social
  • Spend time with them; they may end up missing you and that’s why they’re acting out

Older cats are not like dogs. While a dog is a kind of always around you, cats are usually way less interested. In socializing many times. If you notice as an owner that your cat just isn’t all that cool with spending time with you, or even socializing period, just remember that they kind of does their own thing.

Sometimes cats have their own personal activities that they enjoy doing, and sometimes, they may not be so friendly. But, this post discussed how you as a cat owner can help your cat live a better life, and understand why your cat may be mean, along with the different factors that come along with it, and how you as an owner can treat them better, and make it so that the cat is loved. You can learn more about how to help a mean cat not be so mean by going to the links here and here.


Originally published at purrpetrators.com on August 20, 2018.

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