At some point in your life as a pet parent, you may ask yourself, does my cat hate me? This is especially true if you have independent cats, even if you're a longtime cat mom or dad.
There are more than a few common cat myths, and a persistent one is that they're aloof. Cats are independent creatures, yes, but they are social creatures, albeit in a different way than dogs. What are some factors that may explain your kitty's personality?
John Bradshaw, the author of Cat Sense, explains to NPR that a cat's instincts may lead you to believe she doesn't care about her caregiver. "They evolved from a solitary animal that has never had the need for a sophisticated social repertoire."
Unlike dogs that travel in packs, cats for the most part, are solitary hunters used to living on their own. Indoor domesticated cats have no need to hunt for their food (although they will stalk down prey in the form of toys, stuffed animals, and even your socks) and therefore rely on their pet parents to take care of them. She needs you to fulfill her necessities of food, water, healthcare, and love, but your feline friend's independent streak remains intact!
She Wants Some Space
It may sound counter-intuitive, but giving your cat her own space will improve your bond. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that cats "should have access to several rooms," not confined to just one or two. A happy cat is one that has her own spot (or two or three) in the house where she won't be bothered by pesky people.
If you've brought a new kitten or adolescent cat into your home, chances are she'll find more than a few ways to get your attention. The flip side is that she may hide from you or act standoffish, prompting the question, does my cat hate me? But it doesn't mean your new family member doesn't love you. It's not you; it's her.
She just may be skittish because she hasn't been around people that often. To strengthen your bond with your new fur baby, PetMD recommends, allow your cat to approach you first, rather than chasing her down, so she knows she's in charge, or at least feels that way. You also can use a few pieces of her food to lure her out of her hiding spot. Your kitty will trust you more if you give her the security of a good hiding place. Once she claims such a spot (under the bed, behind a couch), give her access to that area at all times.
Your Cat's Age
As cats age, their needs evolve, and senior cats require a shift in care. Many older independent cats seek more comfort from their pet parents than they did before. In addition to paying close attention to her changing health care needs, notes PetMD, one way to maintain and improve your bond with her is to give her lots of pets and an easily accessible napping spot. When your feline friend knows she can rely on you, she will reward you with her love and loyalty.
Does Your Cat Hate You? No!
And boy, do cats need love. They require "alone time" to regroup and recharge, but during their awake and active hours, it's just the opposite. It's not uncommon for a cat to disappear alone somewhere in the house for hours, only to reappear suddenly, demanding all of your time and attention. Be sure to give it to her. In addition to belly rubs, pets, and playtime, you also show your love by providing her with fresh food and water, keeping her well-groomed and healthy with regular trips to the vet, and cleaning her litter box on a regular basis (daily is best, especially if you have more than one cat).
A good balance between giving your fur baby lots of love and lots of personal space is the best way to build a lifelong bond with your cat.
Image source: Christine O'Brien
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, former English professor, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blue cats rule the house. Her work also appears in What to Expect Word of Mom, Fit Pregnancy, and Care.com, where she writes about pets and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien