Stroke their fur the wrong way
Although there’s an exception to every rule, most cats hate having their fur stroked the wrong way. No one knows quite why they dislike it so much but, to keep in your cat’s good books, remember to stroke in the direction that the fur grows.
Get a dog
Introducing an adult cat to a dog is fraught with problems. Your cat may (hopefully temporarily) leave home or evacuate to higher ground (for instance, the top of the refrigerator). Get introductions right, however, and cats and dogs are capable of being good friends. Your best bet is to introduce them when they’re both young so they can grow up together.
Get another cat
Like most cats (with lions the obvious and honorable exception), domestic cats are naturally solitary. This means they don’t always take well to being expected to share their home with another cat. This even extends to mother cats, who can get tetchy with their own almost-grown kittens. To maximize the chances of a harmonious household, ensure each cat has its own bed and sufficient private space to retreat to.
Keep the cat indoors
Many people choose to keep their cats permanently indoors. Possible reasons include fears about traffic, theft, garden birds or larger animals that might hunt the cat. While these are understandable from our point of view, most cats get very frustrated with never being allowed outside. To be happy and healthy, an indoor cat needs far more mental and physical stimulation than one that is allowed out.
Cats are naturally territorial. This fact goes some way towards explaining why so many of them run away from a new home and reappear at their old one. Neutering a male cat can reduce territorial behavior. However, ultimately, if you’re moving house with a cat, you’ll need to be prepared to keep them indoors while they – hopefully – adjust to their new environment.
Visit the vet
Like many pets, it’s a rare cat who’s keen to visit the veterinarian’s office. Unfortunately, unlike dogs, cats are less easily bribed into good behavior by treats. Instead, for the easiest visits, you’ll need to find a veterinarian who really understands cats and feline behavior. If you’re lucky, you might even find a specialist cat veterinarian.
Give them a bath
Everyone knows cats hate water – right? While, as a rule, most adult cats dislike it and are perfectly capable of keeping themselves clean without a human-directed bath, this isn’t always so for kittens. For health and hygiene reasons, small orphaned kittens, in particular, may really need a bath. Done properly, this will mimic their mother’s cleaning and grooming.
Tickle their tummy
Just as with stroking fur the wrong way, the odd cat will tolerate – or even invite – a tummy tickle. Most cats, however, really dislike it. Beware if you see an exposed feline tummy! If you can’t resist the temptation to tickle or rub it, you may quickly find yourself with a cat clinging onto your arm with its teeth and claws.
Make loud noises
Cats usually like a quiet life – figuratively and in reality. This means that loud noises can easily upset them. Whether it’s a noisy TV drama, a kid shouting, the smoke alarm going off or – worst of all – fireworks, the natural reaction of many cats is to run and hide. Make sure to keep your cat safe inside if you anticipate fireworks or other loud, frightening noises.
Cats have a very sensitive sense of smell. What’s more, they have very strong likes and dislikes. Citrus fruits fall firmly into the “dislike” category. Not only will your cat not choose to eat oranges, she won’t want to sit next to you if you’re eating one.
Use rosemary or thyme
Two other scents that cats loathe are rosemary and thyme. This can be useful if you want to deter your cat from entering part of the garden: strategic planting of rosemary and thyme plants is often effective. Similarly, putting pot plants of the herbs can help keep cats off your windowsills – if that bothers you.
Stare at them
Cats usually perceive a direct stare as a threat. They much prefer their owners – and other people – to look at them from their peripheral vision. However, if you want to send the message that you mean no harm, try blinking or winking your eyes very slowly.
Give them too much attention
As every cat owner knows, cats like attention on their own terms. Woe betide the human who tries to force unwanted attention on their cat. At best, the cat will wriggle away and hide. At worst, she may strike out with her claws or teeth.
Use essential oils
Many common essential oils are toxic to cats. This toxicity affects them whether the oil is ingested, inhaled or comes into contact with their skin. Neat and undiluted oils are most dangerous but you should always check the toxicity of any essential oil before using it. Essential oils toxic to cats include cinnamon, ylang-ylang, peppermint, tea tree, citrus and clove.
Give them medicine
Not many cats enjoy a dose of medicine – and, of course, you can’t explain that it’s for their own good. If you’re lucky, the medicine will be something you can add to their food although, of course, this doesn’t work well with picky eaters. In other situations, you’ll need patience and possibly a quick tutorial from a friendly veterinarian.
Use lavender-infused pillows
Lavender essential oil is toxic to cats. It can irritate their skin, mucous membranes, and gastrointestinal tract – and, in severe cases, can even result in liver damage. Even dried lavender is considered mildly toxic and so best avoided in the home.
Not give them enough attention
Although cats want attention on their own terms, this doesn’t mean that they don’t want any attention. Quite the reverse! As you’ll know if you’ve ever tried to send an important email with your moggy rolling around over the keyboard, cats aren’t shy of letting you know when they want interaction.
Many cats are famously picky eaters. Previously cat-approved brands of food suddenly become untenable to a fastidious cat, while budget range foods almost always seem to be a no-no. However, pickiness aside, almost no cat will contemplate eating spoiled food. To avoid waste, don’t put too much into your cat’s feeding dish at any one time.
Bring strange people into the house
Cats differ from dogs in many ways – and one of these is an almost universal disregard for strangers. In some cats, this trait is even more pronounced, and the animal will actually run and hide while strangers are in the house. As a result you may find yourself pointing to your cat’s bed or scratching pole in an effort to convince a guest that, yes, you really do have a pet cat.
Cradle them like a baby
If you’ve met enough cats, perhaps you’ve come across the odd one who actually enjoys being held upside down and cradled like a human baby. However, these rare exceptions really do prove the rule: the majority of cats detest this sort of cradle hold. They’ll retaliate in the best way they know how: with their claws.
Make them live in a cold house
It’s such a well-known fact that it’s almost a cliche. And, yet, it’s true: cats like their comfort. And, to a cat, comfort extends not only to a cozy place to snooze but to a warm, cozy place to snooze. Keep the temperature in your home too low and you can expect a resentful moggy to peer out at you from beneath a pile of blankets.
Not clean out the litter box
Famously clean, domestic cats expected to use litter boxes demand high standards of cleanliness. If you’re forgetful enough or too slack to empty your pet’s litter box sufficiently regularly, don’t be surprised if the cat finds their own alternative potty elsewhere in the house.
While it’s relatively easy to train most dogs to accept regular grooming, cats are a different matter. And, to be fair, most cats, especially shorthaired ones, do a good enough job by themselves. However, longhaired moggies frequently need human assistance – which means you’ll need to put up with their reproachful looks and perhaps even the occasional swipe from an unsheathed paw.
It’s not impossible to train a cat but, when it comes to getting them to listen to you and follow commands, they’re definitely not dogs. However, don’t ever be tempted to punish your cat for its apparent intransigence. Raised voices frighten cats and, clearly, so does physical chastisement. As well as the risk of hurting your pet (and facing some sort of retaliation), you’ll damage any bond of trust between you.
Dress them up
Given their size, it’s sometimes very tempting to play dress-up with a cat. And stores don’t help, with racks of cute cat-sized costumes for you to choose from. However, do try to swerve temptation for the sake of your little friend. Cats definitely aren’t toys and they definitely don’t enjoy being forced into such unnatural behavior!
Put a bell on their collar
If you’re a bird lover or are just dismayed at the havoc your pet wreaks on the local bird life, a bell may seem like a sensible response. Of course, the cat is unlikely to agree with you. And while this may not bother you, it’s worth noting that many bell-wearing cats become even better, stealthier hunters after the bell forces them to hone their skills further.
A cat in search of attention is like a heat-seeking missile. You have no chance of finishing that document, cooking dinner or even getting out of the door (or at least not without being tripped up) until you’ve scratched between your cat’s ears or served her the food she’s waiting for!
Overly affectionate petting
Remember that cats are pretty small creatures. They also have very definite ideas on what is and is not acceptable. Overly affectionate petting may cause them physical discomfort or sensory distress. Keep your strokes and scratches gentle, and let your pet set the pace – for instance by rubbing her face against your hand.
Take them on car journeys
Not many cats are natural travellers. Luckily, there’s not usually much cause to put a cat in the car although, unluckily, car journeys usually coincide with something else your pet dislikes: a trip to the veterinarian. Try to keep car journeys to a minimum and as short as possible, and make sure your pet is suitably contained inside a cat travelling basket.
Go on vacation
Even before the suitcases are out, many cats seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to their owners’ vacations. Behavior such as sitting inside a half-packed suitcase may be a manifestation of the cat’s anxiety. There’s not much you can do other than consider whether your pet will be happier spending the vacation in a cattery or at home, with someone coming in to feed and check up on her.
Not give them their own space
Cats living in multi-cat households have a particular need for space. They might not always choose to use it but it’s essential that they have the option. You’re far more likely to see fighting among your cats or to have to deal with indoor spraying if you aren’t sensitive to their need for somewhere to get away to.
Late meal times
Cats are great at time-keeping. Expect yours to be noisy in her disapproval if you’re late feeding her. Equally, cats are excellent alarm clocks – albeit their early morning wake-up time might not match yours. You might also notice that your cat is sitting in the window when you come home from work. Maybe she’s been there all day but perhaps she just knows your return time.
Keep them indoors at night
Cats are crepuscular, which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk. As a result, many cats are most keen to be outside at night. Keeping them inside is a sensible decision for many owners, especially if foxes or coyotes are a concern. However, a cat is likely to be vocal in its disapproval.
Put bird feeders out of reach
Just as bird watching is a popular hobby for people, so it is for cats. However, cats, of course, frequently take birding to the next level. Putting bird feeders well out of your cat’s reach can help reduce the number of feathered corpses on your doorstep but won’t do anything to endear you to your pet.
There’s something about aluminium foil that cats generally really dislike. We’re not talking about what you wrap your sandwiches in but, rather, the use of foil to stop cats from walking on specific surfaces. Unfortunately, in time, most cats will get use to the sound and sensation of the foil. This makes covering your kitchen counters in aluminium foil only a short term solution to keeping your cat off them.
Plenty of cats hate the vacuum cleaner. It’s not, of course, that they object to a clean environment but rather that the loud noise distresses them. Some cats will get used to it in time. Others will not – and so it’s best to ensure your cat is in a separate room, with the door shut, before you switch on the vacuum cleaner.
You might think you’re doing a nice thing by buying your cat a scratching post. And, if you’re lucky, your cat will agree – and will make use of the post. If you’re unlucky, the cat will give the scratching post and once-over and then return to sharpening her claws on your sofa.
Put up the Christmas tree
The classic Christmas-y smell of a pine tree signals danger for a cat. The smell is caused by a chemical that’s toxic to cats – and this makes pine Christmas trees a no-no for cat owners. Choose spruce or fir instead – and always ensure you dispose of shed needles regularly as these are potentially dangerous due to their sharp tips.
Use stone chippings in the garden
If you pick the right size, stone chippings make excellent cat deterrents. Avoid pea shingle as it’s too close in size and shape to cat litter – and so may have quite unintended consequences for you. Instead, choose 20 mm chippings if you want to walk on them and 40 mm chippings if they’re to be purely ornamental.
Put lion poop in the garden
It might sound rather radical but using lion poop in your garden is a fairly effective cat deterrent. Assuming you don’t live in a region frequented by mountain lion, you’ll need to buy your poop. Sometimes you can buy directly from a zoo. Alternatively, it’s available over the internet.