5 things you do that your cat secretly hates

None of us want to annoy our feline friends but it can be tricky when you don't speak the same language! 

Here are five things that most cat lovers have done at some point - and why they might actually be getting your cat's nerves...

1. Direct eye contact

Wide-eyed cat with narrow pupils making direct eye contact

Cats can find direct eye contact quite threatening. They wouldn’t look another cat straight in the face unless they were fixing for a fight.

When your cat’s relaxed, they might look at you with a peaceful gaze or half closed eyes. A “slow blink” is your cat’s way of saying they love you. Practice saying it back by relaxing your face and slowly and exaggeratedly closing your eyes to blink back at them.

2. Calling them over by saying “here, puss puss puss”

Black, white & ginger cat being stroked by person in light jeans

Cats can’t speak English, but most have learned that a human kneeling down and calling out means they’re about to get fuss and attention. However, they’d rather we didn’t use too many “s” sounds to express our interest. That “s” noise really sounds like hissing to a kitty’s ears. It’s a bit like you’re using cat swear words whenever you want their attention!

Try meowing at them instead. Unlike hissing, adult cats don’t really meow at one another but do use meows to communicate with us humans.

3. Picking them up for a cuddle

Tabby cat in woman's arms looking out of window

Cats are usually good at keeping themselves to themselves when they don’t want to be bothered. They might nap somewhere away from the hustle and bustle or just head outside to have some “me-time”. If they’re not feeling their most sociable, being picked up can be very frustrating, especially as they don’t have a say over when the hugs end. Some cats will fend you off with a bat of their paws but many put up with the hugs, secretly waiting for it to end…

You can tell your cat’s not a hugger if they scarper when you come towards them with open arms or dash off as soon as you let them go. As cat lovers know, cats can be very affectionate when the attention is on their own terms. Let them come to you and you’ll reap the rewards of consensual kitty cuddles.

4. Laser pointer games

Confused cat looking under paw for laser pointer beam

We’ve all seen cats go after laser pointers with gusto! Their eyes go wide like they’ve had a night out on the catnip, their butts wiggle and they run and chase until they’re exhausted. Of course they’re enjoying themselves…right?

Cats have a drive to hunt and play. They’re naturally excited to chase and catch something. The problem with laser pointers is that there is nothing to catch. This can leave your cat feeling frustrated but they’ll want to keep trying to get their paws on the prize.

It’s a good idea to alternate laser pointer games with another game where your cat is able to catch something. Wand toys are great for this or you could shine the laser pointer on some catnip-filled toys that your little hunter can pounce on.

5. Leaving their things clean and lemon-fresh

Ginger cat lying on its back with eyes closed in fresh cat bed

Your cat’s sense of smell is more finely-tuned than your own. They use scents to reassure themselves and communicate with other cats by scent marking their territory. Any changes to the way their home smells can be disorienting. It’s a bit like someone sneaking into your house and painting all the walls while you’re asleep.

On top of that, most cats really don’t like the smell of fruits like lemons and oranges – that’s why gardeners recommend scattering citrus peel in flowerbeds to stop cats using it as their bathroom. Unfortunately, these scents are used in a lot of cleaning products. So, giving your cat’s litter tray a good scrub with a lemon-fresh cleaner could actually put them off using it.

Pick a scent-free disinfectant to clean your cat’s things and wash their bedding with a gentle detergent that isn’t packed full of strong smells. Try not to wash all their bedding in one go. They’ll be much happier if at least one of their blankets still smells familiar. Try rotating your cleaning so you wash some in one week’s laundry and others the next time. Keep using lemon scented cleaners in places you’d rather your cat didn’t wander, like on kitchen counters. It might put them off exploring that area – although it doesn’t always work!