There’s a good reason why your cat is acting like a jerk.
Let’s face it—cats get a bad rap. Ailurophobes around the world have (more or less) based their entire phobia on the idea that all cats are jerks. However, those of us who love and adore our feline friends know the only reason cats are ever jerks is because something is bothering them.
To make your cat stop being a jerk, you need to discover the reason he’s being one in the first place. There is always a reason (because cats aren’t naturally jerks). Here are a few reasons why your cats might be acting like a jerk and some tips on how to stop them from escalating their behavior.
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They Are in Pain
This is the No. 1 reason your cat might be a jerk. After all, how happy are you when you’re in pain? Just because your cat is youngish or happens to have a beautiful coat doesn’t mean he’s not in pain.
His stomach might be acting up, he could have the beginning of a urinary tract infection, perhaps he jumped off that tall canopy bed you’re so proud of and landed on his foot wrong.
If your cat is suddenly hissing when you try to touch him or lying in a corner growling at nothing, there’s a reason—he is quite likely in pain and it’s time to get him to a veterinarian.
They Are Bored
Yes, being a jerk is a completely valid response to being bored. Try to view the world from their perspective and you’ll see what I mean: We take these perfect predators out of their native environment and ply them with dry kibble, ban them from exploration, expect them to defecate in an (often unclean) box and then we wonder why they’re being jerks. Certainly domestication is a great deal for them, but it’s still a weak attempt to stop centuries of conditioning.
Make your cats’ lives a little more interesting by ensuring they’re not bored. Encourage their hunting instinct by hiding their food (I love the NOBowl Feeding System for this task), encourage them to stay active (the NekoFlies toys are a favorite due to ease of changing out their high-quality lures) and change up their environment by adding climbing areas, tunnels or even cardboard boxes.
Cats need to be stimulated and we need to embrace their ancient instincts to help them successfully integrate into our modern indoor culture.
Something Smells Funny
Unusual odors are a big culprit for cats who are suddenly exhibiting jerky behavior. Remember, what your cat thinks is an odor and what you consider to be a nice. rose-scented bath are two entirely different things.
A cat’s sense of smell is about 14 times better than most human’s. That means they are highly sensitive to any unusual smells, including room deodorizers, perfumes, cleaners or a thousand other things. If you’ve suddenly been bitten by the essential oil bug and are diffusing new citrus oils in your bedroom each night; that might be the reason. If you use a new laundry detergent, that might be the reason. Hanging out with someone new? Your cat will know what type of person they are before you do—all based on their smell.
Observe your cat—she will tell you more than you think. Is she staying away from a specific room? Identify what you’re doing different and either work with your cat on learning to accept it or stop doing it.
Someone was a Jerk First
This happens a lot more than you might think, particularly in multi-species (or multi-cat) homes. One cat decides she wants to eat first, the other cat disagrees. That new puppy you brought into your home wants to play but your cat has other ideas.
However, it doesn’t have to be a multi-species home. For example, there was once a time when one of my cats was biting at me for no reason at all. She spent her evenings staring out a window and if we tried to move her or chastise her for growling, she would let loose the felines of hell.
Turns out, there was a bully of a tomcat who had taken over our yard at night when the dogs were in and the cats were sitting in the window. He would flout his freedom by parading along the windowsill, basically irritating my cat all night as she steadfastly stood guard.
Once we got that tomcat neutered and taught him to stay out of our backyard, our cat went right back to her old loving self. Don’t be too quick to judge your cat—she might have a very good reason for acting like she does.
Something is New
Cats generally aren’t really fond of change. Other than some environmental enrichment now and then, they prefer everything to stay the same. They don’t want new people wandering around, they don’t like the new baby who takes up all your time and they really don’t like the funny-smelling new comforter you bought for your bed.
To help them through this difficult adjustment, pheromones are your best friend. Be sure to use the right kind; if you’re bringing in a new foster cat or dog, stay with the community cat pheromones. Feliway room diffusers can help solve these types of “adjustment” problems.
Cats are complex creatures, for sure. But they’re not nearly as mysterious as we think. It’s not hard to figure out what’s wrong with your cat if you choose to take the time and listen. Just like us, they have a reason for acting the way they do. No cat is truly a jerk and no cat acts like a jerk without a reason.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is a fulltime freelance writer, bestselling author and founder of PetsWeekly.com. She resides in the deserts of the Southwest with a few dogs, several cats and a very understanding husband.