Not only us, humans, have things that others do and we don’t like them, well cats have that also. You already know that your cat doesn’t like being pulled by the tail, but experts now expose more human behavior that irritates your cat the most.
Even moving a cat’s litter box should be done slowly if at all possible—the ASPCA recommends scooting it just a few inches per day toward its new location. If you have to move to a new house or apartment altogether, your worries will be bigger: Marilyn Krieger, Catster’s “Ask a Behaviorist” columnist, writes that the biggest concern is safety since anxious cats are more likely to run away or hide in inappropriate places. She recommends a detailed safety check of the new home to ensure there aren’t any loose screens.
#2 Loud noises
Fireworks, thunderstorms, and construction noises can be confusing and scary for pets. The best remedy is a distraction. Experts suggest training your cat to sit and stay in a specific location, like on a mat, and then practicing the behavior when the loud noises startup. Kristyn Vitale, a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University has an instructional video showing how she teaches the behavior. “After the cat is a master of sitting and staying then have them do this when loud noises are occurring,” she says. “Give them treats for engaging in the sit/stay behavior and for ignoring the loud noises. Eventually, they will learn the loud noises are nothing to be afraid of, and they will be more interested in earning treats than hiding.”
#3 Heavy smells
Does your cat seem to give you a strange look when you’re wearing your favorite perfume? “They have excellent noses,” Vitale says. “Scent items with a strong odor, such as perfume or deodorizers, may be off-putting and cats may avoid locations with these scents.” She adds that there are also smells that most cats really like, including catnip, lavender, and silver vine: “You can also use scents cats enjoy to attract them to locations like their scratching post.”
#4 Clothes/ Dressing up
Halloween costumes and Christmas hats can be fun for people, but lots of cats will be totally annoyed if you try to dress them up. If, for some reason, you really want your cat to wear a special outfit for your family photo, Vitale says you should get her used to the idea slowly. “Work up to the cat wearing the clothing by first just putting treats on the item, so they associate it with something good,” she says. As a next step, Vitale suggests putting the clothing on for just a minute or two, while offering plenty of treats and praise. “Slowly work up to the clothing being on the cat for longer and longer,” she says. But, if you just want to keep your pet safe and enjoy the outdoors together, then a set with cat harness and leash, a stylish collar and a catnip mouse is the ideal choice, you can check the complete set here.
#5 Babies/ New people
You’ll love your new baby, and you’ll love your cat, but don’t necessarily expect them to love each other, at least right away. “Big life changes such as moving or welcoming a new family member can be stressful for cats,” Kristyn Vitale says. The ASPCA website offers tips for helping cats get used to the idea of sharing their homes with a small human, including playing baby sounds before you give birth to get your kitty accustomed to what’s coming. If dad will be taking over cat care from mom once the baby arrives, have him take on his grooming and play duties at least a month before the big day.
Big changes might be stressful for cats, but they don’t actually want every day to be exactly like the last. “Having a home environment that never changes can also be boring for cats,” Vitale says. Plus, when they’re not accustomed to any day-to-day variety, they’ll be extra-freaked-out when your grandparents’ visit or a plumber comes to work on your kitchen sink. “Giving your cat new toys and forms of enrichment can help stimulate their mind and may also make them more comfortable with new situations when big life changes do occur.”
#7 Being picked-up
“They certainly don’t like being held against their will,” Turner says. He adds that most cats will forgive you for coming on too strong from time to time if they’re used to socializing with people and they trust you: “My research has shown that they accept most advances by their keepers, giving us the impression that we are in charge.” But, he adds, for the sake of your long-term human-cat relationship, it’s always better to wait until the cat comes to you for attention.
#8 Being left alone
Dogs aren’t the only pets that get lonely and bored when you spend the whole day at work. Vitale advises cat owners to give their pets food puzzles when they’re alone—they’ll be too busy solving problems for snacks to miss you much. She also recommends providing a variety of toys and a protected outdoor space (sometimes known as a catio or a window perch). Some people even consider a second cat.
#9 Cat carriers
It’s no news flash that most cats hate going into a carrier. But it’s not the box itself that’s the problem—it’s the veterinarian they usually have to visit when they get closed up in there. Vitale says that, with some work, you can change their negative associations with more positive ones. For starters, “leave the carrier out with a blanket inside so the cat can explore the carrier and even sit in it at times where the cat is just relaxing at home,” she says. You can put treats and catnip inside too.
#10 Other cats
Lots of cats love having cat companions, but if yours doesn’t, she might act out by showing fear or aggression. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give one up! “Cats show great flexibility in their social behavior,” Vitale says. She suggests separating the cats into different areas of the house and slowly reintroducing them to one another using a method called “Scent, Sight, Touch”:
- Take a toy or blanket from each cat and swap them. Give each cat the other cat’s scent item along with lots of praise and rewards so they associate the smell with good things.
- After doing this a few times, set up a space where the cats will be able to see one another through a physical barrier, like a screen door or gate. Then feed them, so they start to associate positive feelings (food) with the sight of the other cat.
- After a few successful feeding sessions, you can try to introduce the cats without a barrier—distract each cat with toys during their first meeting in the same room, so they have less time to worry.