close up of an angry-looking devon rex cat

Does My Cat Hate Me? Understanding a Cat’s Moods

Your cat walks out of the room the minute you walk in. Or maybe they nip at your hand when you reach down to pet them. These kinds of behaviors can make you ask why does my cat hate me.

It’s Not You. It’s Them.

Take heart. Your cat doesn’t hate you. In fact, their behavior probably doesn’t have anything to do with you. For one, the history of cats is very different than dogs.

Dogs were domesticated long ago when they started hanging out near humans so they could nosh on their leftovers. More docile dogs were allowed to stay, while others would be chased away. Dogs began to evolve in ways that made them more loveable to us, including learning to read our emotions.

Cats, on the other hand, sort of domesticated themselves. Many years back, they started living among people in agricultural villages. They were drawn to the large grain stores overrun with tasty rodents. Cats got an easy food source, and humans were grateful for the free mouse catchers. It was a win-win situation that didn’t require cats to cozy up to us.

Today, cats are notoriously independent. They tend to thrive on a solitary life, which can make you ask the question, “why does my cat hate me?” But cats need love and attention. It’s just that they like to dictate the terms.

Did you know?

A study showed that cats can recognize their owner’s voice. So, your cat can tell when you’re talking to them even if they refuse to look at you.

Cat Moods Explained

Cats have unique personalities. Some are serious loners who barely ever come out from hiding unless they’re hungry. Others are clingy kitties who follow you all over the house and never miss a chance to jump in your lap for a snuggle. And, of course, there are plenty of cats that fall somewhere in between or seem to shift moods on a dime.

Past Experiences

Your cat’s personality, moods, and behaviors have a lot to do with their past experiences. For instance, if you rescue a stray cat from the neighborhood, you might find that they’re skittish, especially at first, and really like their alone time. If you adopt a kitty, they may see you as their mama and want to stay close to you all of the time.

When you get upset with how your cat is behaving, keep their background in mind. It can provide some explanation and help you take their actions less personally.

Natural Tendencies

Cats typically need time away to relax and recharge. It’s not uncommon for them to hide somewhere for hours at a time. You might not be able to find them even if you live in a small apartment.

Don’t worry—your cat will emerge when they’re hungry or want some attention. Respect your cat’s need to get away from it all. They’ll find you when they’re ready.

Did you know?

Your cat knows when you’re saying their name, according to a research study. But they may not care to respond to it when you call.

Illness or Injury

Behavior changes like hiding or sleeping more than usual can indicate that something is wrong with your cat. If you notice a sudden shift in your cat’s mood or behavior, you should contact your veterinarian. That increased irritability might be a sign they’re in pain and not hard feelings towards you.

Change in Routine

Cats thrive on a steady routine. Things that disrupt their schedule, like a new pet or roommate in the house, can throw a cat off. These kinds of changes can cause a cat to act more aggressive than usual or abruptly run and hide. If this is the case, your cat might need a little time to adjust.

In some instances, you may be able to help your cat get more comfortable with the situation sooner. For instance, if you’ve recently started dating someone, introduce them to your cat slowly. You can have them hold out a few treats and let your cat come to them. It can take a while, but your cat should warm up to your sweetie in time.

Did you know?

Pet insurance can help cover treatment for behavioral issues, including increased aggression. Learn about our plans.


Kitties and young cats love to play. And their preferred way of playing resembles stalking and hunting their prey. They may jump out from behind the couch and attack your ankles. Or they might nip and scratch at your hands when you try to pet them.

These behaviors can be annoying, but they don’t mean your kitty hates you. They just want to play. Make sure your kitty has plenty of opportunities to satisfy this need appropriately. Kittens enjoy all sorts of games, like swatting at feathered wands, chasing fake mice, and batting around ping pong balls.

It can take some time and patience to teach your kitty the dos and don’ts of playing. If your kitty starts biting at your hands while you’re petting them, gently tell them no. Divert them to another activity that can burn off their energy.

Fun Fact

Some cats don’t like it when you pet them. In fact, one study shows that petting can stress out certain cats.

Why Does My Cat Love Me Then Attack Me?

This is not uncommon behavior for cats. They lovingly rub up against your legs and act like they want to be pet, but then they nip or claw at your hand when you try to stroke their fur. It’s not that they suddenly don’t love you. They’re probably trying to get you to play.

It’s OK to play with them, but don’t encourage any biting or scratching. Stop playing if they keep it up so you don’t reinforce these behaviors. Firmly tell them no and wait to play again until they’ve calmed down.

white fluffy cat scratching at a maroon chair while looking angry

I Really Think My Cat Hates Me. What Should I Do?

The first thing you should do is take your cat to the veterinarian to make sure they’re not hurt or sick. If your cat is healthy, your veterinarian can offer advice on your next best step. Also, keep these tips in mind to help avoid unwanted behaviors:

  • Maintain good health. Feed your cat a nutritious diet, give them lots of opportunities to exercise, and bring them to the veterinarian regularly. A healthy cat makes for a happier cat.
  • Give them their space. Avoid forcing a reluctant cat to engage with you. Let them have their alone time. They’ll seek you out when they’re ready for attention.
  • Play with them more. If your cat is acting out, they may need more playtime. Entice them with fun toys and interactive games. Once they’ve burned off some energy, they might be ready for a quiet cuddle on the couch.
  • Bribe them. Put your cat in a good mood by offering them a few treats or bits of their favorite food. Shaking a bag of treats is a great way to get most cats out of hiding.

Remember that all cats need love and care, even the grumpy ones. They may just want it on their own terms.