Does your cat really hate you?

Dogs wear their hearts on their sleeves. Cats — or at least some cats sometimes — can spend years by your side without it being entirely clear that they know or care who you are. A look vaguely resembling contentment passes over their faces and you think triumphantly, “See! My cat does not despise me.

Which might very well not be the case. But if it was, wouldn’t you want to know? To make sure you’re not lying, we reached out to a number of feline experts to find out if your cat really hates you or not.

In the end, it might just be living in deathly fear of you. Or you could just be sad and insecure and use your cat’s totally neutral facial expression to feel bad about yourself. Or, the science isn’t totally on it, it might actually think you suck. Either way, our experts have provided plenty of ways to enhance even emotionally healthy man-cat relationships.

Mikel Maria Delgado, a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine (and also a feline behavior consultant at Feline Minds and co-author of Total chat mojo) said that for some reason people seem really obsessed with projecting their own anxieties about their relationship with their cat on the cats themselves. Maybe it’s because they compare cats to dogs.

“Cats have fewer facial muscles than dogs, so they have fewer expressions that mimic humans, whereas dogs have more facial expressions, and those expressions are closer to ours than cats,” said Delgado said. “Cats present a more neutral palette to people, so when someone meets a cat, it may not be obvious to them what the cat is feeling just by looking at them.”

That said, cats will often have favorite people at home, and part of that is likely due to socialization. A cat that has been exposed to many different types of people when young will be more adaptable to different types of people when it gets older, Delgado explained.

“A kitten who is welcomed into a quiet home with one very quiet woman will probably be more comfortable with women later on. We know, for example, that females tend to be smaller, we tend to be quieter, we tend to have higher-pitched voices, and those are all things that are less threatening to a cat.” she added.

“When a cat ‘dislikes’ someone, the root of that feeling or behavior is often fear, and that fear is often simply due to the lack of positive exposures. Interactions also tend to be better if you let the cat decide and initiate contact with you, rather than reaching out to pet a cat who is clearly afraid of you.

Delgado recommends learning After on cats in general, and on their cat in particular. What does your cat react to? Do they like to play with toys, and if so, what types? Do they like to be petted, and if so, where?

Cats, if you interact with them, they’re not just going to lay there, she added, they’re going to purr, or rub against your petting, or relax their bodies, or they’re going to do the opposite: they’re going. becoming tense, or starting to wag the tail, or rolling the ears back, all of which are classic body language signs of excitement or irritation.

“To be honest, the best way to make your cat like you is to do more things they like and less things they don’t. If they don’t like being picked up and held like a baby , don’t pick them up and hold them like a baby,” she said.

A lot of it is about creating an environment and establishing social interactions that allow your cat to succeed. Having a good relationship with your cat is a two-way street, not only does your cat hate you, but you provide your cat with what it needs to enjoy living with you.

“It’s important that people recognize that the cat is not a jerk and that it doesn’t hate you, and that they understand the motivation for their behavior, which is almost always fear. Hopefully that gives people a little more empathy for their cats,” Delgado added. “It’s important for people to recognize that the cat isn’t a jerk and doesn’t hate you, and that they understand the motivation of their cat. behavior, which is almost always fear.”

Similarly, Carlo Siracusa, assistant clinical professor, behavioral medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, said that animals, including cats, develop preferences, just like humans. They might get along well with one person but not with another. Usually it’s nothing personal, they don’t get into a fight with that specific person, there are just things the person does that the cat considers less safe or less appealing. This applies to cats’ relationships with each other, on farms, for example, cats tend to congregate and decide who stays in the group and who doesn’t.

“The main difference is that when cats live in a semi-wild state, they can leave the group if they don’t like the specific company of a person or another animal. But the majority of cats in indoors don’t have that option, they have to share the environment with an individual that they don’t necessarily get along with very well,” Siracusa said.

“Humans are very physical in their relationships, they want to hold their cat, hug their cat, etc. This can be terrible for any animal that doesn’t appreciate your presence, but it’s even worse for cats, because the way which cats express their preferences through closeness Unlike humans or dogs, they don’t have much physical contact, even when they love a person.

Often, if they don’t get along with a particular person, that person will take it personally and try to increase their physical interactions with the cat, and because cats aren’t physical animals, that just makes them worse. make things worse.

One thing you can do to improve your relationship with your cat is to make sure he has a place where he can hide from others when he wants some privacy. All the things that are essential for the cat – like food, litter, water, a comfortable resting place, some environmental enrichment or some toys – should be there, so if I’m a cat and I want to eat my food, I can be alone. We tend to call this a core zone.

According to Sharon Crowell-Davis, Professor, Behavior &; Anatomy, University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, with a focus on behavioral issues in cats, while some cats avoid certain people, growl at others, and sometimes even pounce to attack, she would never use the word “hate “.

“Although I think it’s entirely plausible, given how close their brain structure is to ours, that they have some sort of emotion that would be analogous to our ‘hatred.’ Cats that run and hide don’t hate you, they’re afraid of you,” she explained.

“People often mistakenly think of cats as predators, not realizing that they are also prey. Much of cat behavior is driven by their need to be safe and not be killed.

One of the best tips Crowell-Davis has for cat lovers is to stay still when you meet a new cat and let the cat decide when you’re no longer a danger to them.

This article has been updated since it was first published.

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