9 Triggers and Signs Your Cat Is Actually Mad at You

Cats can get mad at their human parents for various reasons, but they usually exhibit the same nine signs of anger.

Published March 20, 2023
Orange cat with disgruntled face

Cat owners often exclaim that their cats seem annoyed with them and they have no idea why. If this is you, it's more common than you think. Yes, your cat can get mad at you. There's a multitude of reasons cats get upset with their owners. Maybe you brought a new pet into the home, you've been petting them for too long, or they're not feeling well and taking out their discomfort on you. Discover the nine signs you should keep an eye out for to determine whether your cat is mad at you and what you can do about it.

Why Is My Cat Mad at Me?

If your cat is mad at you, you might be aware of what you did, or the cause of their anger may be a complete secret. There are a few common reasons cats become annoyed with their people.

Little boy next to angry looking cat
  • You changed their environment. Cats are sensitive to their environments, so bringing a new item into the house, changing the type of cat litter they use, or getting rid of their favorite chair could make them upset. This may be something incredibly subtle that you didn't even realize would affect your cat.
  • You got a new pet. The addition of a new pet can definitely make your cat mad, especially if they're used to having your undivided attention. Even if you're making the introduction slowly and the other pet is confined to a separate part of the house, your cat knows something is up, and they might start to show signs they're not pleased.
  • You had a baby. Most cats love babies, but introducing any new person in the house, whether it's a newborn, new partner, or new roommate, could make your cat jealous.
  • They've had enough of your petting. Some cats have a low tolerance for petting, so if you're stroking them and they've had enough, they might get mad. If you don't recognize their signals of irritation, you might get a love bite or worse.
  • They're not feeling well. If your cat is sick, they might show anger toward you solely out of discomfort. It isn't anything you did, but a trip to your vet can help you learn how to make your kitty more comfortable.
  • You're not cleaning up after them. Cats do not like strong smells, and they are known for keeping themselves meticulously clean. If you haven't changed their litter recently, or there are strong smells they don't like, you might be making them mad.
  • They're feeling bored. If you aren't paying enough attention to your cat, and there's just nothing going on, they might get upset, and often they'll direct that anger at you.
  • They're feeling stressed. All kinds of things can stress cats out. Are there loud noises they can't escape, strangers in your house, or did you take them to the vet? They might be made at you for not fixing the problem.
  • You didn't handle them right. Some cats love belly rubs. But other cats hate it with a passion, just like they hate being picked up. This just depends on your cat's behavior and preferences. If you touch them somewhere or handle them the wrong way, you may really upset them.
Quick Tip

Your cat may be upset with you for taking them to the vet, but this anger usually subsides within a few days. Having your cat examined regularly is still important for their health.

9 Signs Your Cat Is Mad at You

Not sure if your cat is mad at you? Cats can show obvious signals of anger or more subtle ones. Keep an eye out for these nine signs.

  1. Hissing and growling: This is a pretty obvious sign cats are mad, so take it at face value
  2. Swishing their tail: Specifically, cats do the classic low, quick swish tail-flick when they're mad
  3. Flattened ears: If your cat pins their ears back on their head, they're probably upset
  4. Puffed-up tail: This can also indicate fear or stress, so watch for this in conjunction with other telltale signs of anger
  5. Staring at you: Sometimes, cats will glare at you with anger in their eyes, though this doesn't always mean they're mad
  6. Avoiding you: Can't find your cat? They might be keeping out of sight specifically because they don't want to be around you right now
  7. Meowing more than usual: This is another signal that can be hard to interpret. Watch for indicators your cat is stressed to verify
  8. Spraying urine around the house: Another overt message from your cat, spraying either means their in season, or upset with you
  9. Defecating outside the litter box: Cats don't like to defecate just anywhere. If they're pooping outside their box, bet that they're upset

Not all of these behaviors are definitive proof your cat is mad you at, at least by themselves. For example, cats may stare and slow blink at you when they are actually quite happy. Sometimes, cats just meow because they're hungry. Learn to read your cat's body language to find out if their behavior is normal, or these signs indicate they really are mad at you.

Is My Cat Mad at Me?

Even though you provide everything for your cat and more, there may come a time when they become annoyed with you. The first step in repairing your bond is to try to deduce what triggered your cat. If you got a new pet or had a baby, creating a positive experience around these new things can help your cat feel more comfortable with the transitions. Feline pheromones and even anti-anxiety medication can also be used temporarily until your cat forgives you. Speak to your veterinarian for individual guidance and to rule out any hidden illnesses that could be causing your cat pain.

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9 Triggers and Signs Your Cat Is Actually Mad at You