A drop of cold sweat runs down your forehead and you say it out loud: “my kitty doesn’t love me.” Here it is, you’ve done it.
Welcome to Mean Cat Owners Anonymous, the Twitter thread where owners share their emotional journeys about raising a cat demon. One user Meredith Hankins spills it out “my cat has a note in all caps red letters in his vet file” which warns the doctors to put a muzzle on him before handling him.
The cat world is a tough nut to crack, but whatever happens to your parental dignity, remember that it can always be worse, much worse. And now, prepare some napkins to wipe off your tears and step into the limbo where mean cats set us straight. Also, read Bored Panda’s interview with Dr. David Sands, a scientific adviser and animal practitioner at The Animal Behavior Clinic, about what’s happening inside the mind of your seemingly devilish cat.
Bored Panda contacted scientific adviser David Sands and asked why some cats tend to exhibit more aggressive behavior than the others. “There are, of course, many influences for feline antisocial behavior in the home. Especially relevant would be a lack of early socialization and if the cat was the product of a feral mating,” Sands explained. Sometimes the neighbor cats might be to blame: “it is also known that the introduction of other feral or dominant cats into a neighborhood can cause an emotional upheaval.” Many other factors might also play a significant role in your cat’s sharp claws. “House moves, intrusive surgery, hormonal changes and variations in the social situation of owners including partner loss, illness, family, or partners moving in or out, and the introduction of babies can also have a significant effect on feline behavior.”
It turns out that petting cats might be beneficial to humans but not to our feline friends. David told us that in his clinical case notes “it is not unusual to find a comment that owners are finding it difficult to reduce physical contact with their cats. This is despite an explanation provided that controlling physical and emotional interaction will help to prevent issues.” You heard it right—sometimes taking a step back might be much more helpful in reducing your cat’s aggression than trying to make friends with him or her all over again.
In the end, it’s important to realize that “love is a human emotion” according to Sands because “litter mothers care for kittens.” It’s true that “adult cats may groom each other but they don't stroke each other.” It seems that we were speaking in entirely different languages all along!
The hardest part of being an exemplary feline owner is realizing that cats don’t always like the things we expect them to. For example, a 2013 study showed that domestic cats which allowed themselves to be pet more often showed higher levels of stress. Another study suggested that cats don’t care when you call them. In fact, when 20 domestic cats were played three separate voice messages (one from their owners, two from total strangers), they didn’t exhibit any interest whatsoever. Every one of them could perfectly hear their names being called, but none of them decided to approach the speaker. Think it's a coincidence? Well, think again.
When you enter the room, your kitty rubs up against your leg. ‘What a bond we have!’ you think and chuckle from happiness. ‘That belongs to me,’ thinks your cat. Many researchers believe that this behavior is not a sign of affection, but a cat's attempt to spread their scent. Scent marking is a feline way to mark territorial boundaries and claim their power over your household idyll.