As a cat parent, you spend a lot of time thinking about what will make your kitty comfortable and happy, but you may also consider what cats hate. What annoys cats? Many things, it turns out!
Cats are susceptible to fear and anxiety, just like humans, and neither of these things is good for both.
1. Vacuum Cleaners
It's not a secret... cats don't like loud noises. When the racket is coming from a bulky machine in close proximity, it's even worse. She may experience panicky behavior, including escaping from the scene (the most likely response) and hiding. Unfortunately, you can't just stop vacuuming (wishful thinking), but there are ways to be respectful of your cat while cleaning, such as not putting the attachments near her, and never, ever using the vacuum to "clean" your pet, as it will likely frighten her. Sometimes it is a good idea to put her in a room that you are not vacuuming or giving her a closed, dark space that she would feel more comfortable in until you are finished cleaning.
2. Noise Pollution
In addition to vacuums, other sound frequencies annoy cats, too. "Excessive or loud noises can create what is known as acoustic stress, which affects felines, in particular, since they can hear very high tones," notes Vetstreet. Cats can hear sounds "about 1.6 octaves higher than humans and one octave above dogs." Loud televisions, video games, stereos and phones all contribute to this type of noise pollution, which can drive your cat crazy, forcing her to retreat into a small space to hide. Unfortunately, this can't always be avoidable, especially if you drop something that creates a loud crashing noise. If you are planning a house party and know that it will be loud with a bunch of guests, you might block off a quiet space of the home for your cat to retreat to if you know she is especially impacted by loud noises.
3. Car Rides
It only takes one stressful drive to the veterinarian's office to know how much your fur baby doesn't like to be in the car. The meowing, hissing, and overall anxiety is not fun. While it's necessary for your cat to endure travel to and from her health checkups, taking kitty out for a joy ride will benefit neither of you. For a cat, her home is her world, and she's quite content to stay there, especially when she can view the world around her from a safe, high perch near a window or do some bird-watching from the patio door. When you do need to take her somewhere, try wrapping her in a towel or blanket before putting her in her carrier and covering it so it's dark. Then, make sure to safely secure the carrier in the car. Keeping her away from stimuli will help ease her tensions and make it less stressful on you both.
4. Belled Collars
These seemingly innocuous little jingly bells attached to cat collars actually can drive cats (and their pet parents) bonkers. Belled collars may seem like a good idea at first because they are cute and let you know when she's coming. As for the cat? She doesn't like the bell. Originally intended to prevent cats from hunting wild creatures, bells can stress out a cat because of sound frequency and the fact that it's right by her ears. Many cats are stealthy enough to learn how to walk or run without making the bell jingle, or simply remove the bell with their teeth, which poses a choking hazard. It's best if cats wear a plain collar, and there are plenty of cute ones on the market.
5. Sticky Surfaces / Things on Her Feet
While this can be a good deterrent for keeping your cat off of certain surfaces like countertops or furniture, it is generally an annoyance for your cat. Your cat's paws and claws are important to her in exploring her environment. They help her grip and feel out the world, and when something affects this, she tends to not take kindly to it. If you ever see your cat picking at her feet or walking strangely, it is likely that something has interrupted her normal contact with her environment.
6. Pushy Petting
Although some cats can be aloof, most furry friends love a good belly rub or head scratch. However, avoid being too aggressive with your cat. She will, in no uncertain terms, let you know how much she hates it. There's even such a thing as "petting-induced aggression," states the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, that occurs when a cat suddenly "feels irritated by being petted, nips or lightly bites the person petting him, and then jumps up and runs off." Be gentle with your cat, and when she asks you to stop, just stop.
While it is nice to know what our cats like, it is also important to be cognizant of what cats don't like so you can help avoid putting her in unsettling situations. A little time and bonding will help you discover her own personal pet peeves, while helping the two of you draw closer.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.