15 Things Humans Do That Cats Dislike

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on April 22, 2020

Kitties are picky pants and there’s no doubt about how many things cats dislike. But cat lovers don’t mind. When a cat chooses us, its a high honor and we will do everything in our power to keep our cats happy.

Yet, the natural selectivity of cats can make this difficult sometimes. Our idea of bestowing love and snuggles isn’t always on par with their ideas. While we do our best to keep cats pleased, sometimes we’re guilty of committing acts they don’t care for. Check out this list of things cats dislike to be sure you aren’t stepping on your sweetie paws’ toes.

Here are the top 15 things humans generally do by accident but cats dislike anyhow…

1. Litter box fails

Not keeping the potty facilities to a kitty cat’s liking is one of the most obvious fails on our parts. Litter box issues can sometimes make or break relationships with cats, so give your kitties the comfort they need for doing their business. A good rule for litter box happiness? Keep one litter pan for each cat in the house, plus one more. Two cats? Keep three pans that get scooped at least once a day. Your cats may prefer the litter be scooped more than this.

Image Source: Chris Murphy via Flickr

Remember, litter box problems can arise for several reasons, ranging from security to health issues.

If your cat is avoiding the litter box and you’re not sure why try making a few simple changes. Check out 5 Ways To Make Your Cat Comfortable Using The Litter Box for ideas.

2. Offending Kitty’s Ears with Loud Noises

Cats have sensitive ears. Like supersonically sensitive in comparison to our hearing capabilities. Their ears are built to hear the small skittering of prey and the tall cone of a cat’s outer ear works to amplify noise.  From the vacuum cleaner roaring to the slamming of a door, cats dislike loud noises. They’re typically skittish and sudden sounds will send kitties running. Even if screaming, banging, slamming noises aren’t directed at them, cats still react and still don’t care for it.

It’s impossible to keep things quiet and calm at all times, but keep loudness down to a minimum to keep your darling cat happy.

3. Scolding Their Royal Majesties 

On the subject of loud, cats don’t like to be scolded either. Sure, they can give us lots to fuss about, like knocking glasses off counters, digging in plants, tearing up furniture, but yelling or pointing won’t get your point across. If anything, the angry display will confuse your cat, or worse yet, scare your furry love.

Try gentle guidance and rewarding good behaviors, instead. Have a peek at these training tips from PetMD.

4. Ignoring odd behavior

Yes, cats are dramatic and will go to ridiculous lengths to get our attention when they decide they want it. Sometimes their behavior is downright goofy but can be related to just having fun. When does goofy behavior broach into odd or strange though?

Acts like persistent scratching, whether to themselves or the house, or different behavior when it comes to the litter box, and even a sudden lack of interest in grooming are indications things aren’t right. Cats are good at hiding pain and illness, so these odd behaviors can be the subtle signals of your cat not feeling well. If your kitty isn’t behaving in his usual ways, set up an appointment with the vet. In the meantime, check out these 6 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick.

5. Gassing sensitive noses with perfumed odors

Back to their supersonic senses. Cats have a sense of smell 14 times greater than a human’s. Which means they can pick up scents in the air a human nose will never know exists. It also means we can easily gas them out with the ‘good’ smells we fill our homes with. From cleaning products to perfume, we’re lucky cats don’t make ‘stink face’ all the time.

Image Source: Randi Deuro via Flickr

While cats will get the crazy eyes over aromas of tuna and turkey, there are some scents they just despise. Cat Checkup lists the top ten scents cats hate as:

  1. Citrus
  2. Filthy litter box
  3. Banana
  4. Pine
  5. Spoiled fish
  6. Pepper
  7. Overly scented soap and deodorant
  8. Eucalyptus
  9. Essential oils, these oils can be toxic to cats
  10. Other cats

6.  Introducing stranger danger

Cats dislike the unknown. Even if the unknown is a person you love dearly. If your cat has never met them, it doesn’t matter how much you love the person, they are still a stranger from your cat’s perspective. Respect this and don’t force interaction. Eventually, your kitty love should fall for your dear friend too. Once they see how safe you feel with that person, your cat will grow curious and come around.


Some cats want nothing to do with making human friends beside you. That’s fine too. Let your cat dictate their needs where strange humans or animals are concerned.

7. Leaving them with a water bowl they dislike

Hydration is important for every species, but keeping a cat watered is tricky. They can be quite discerning about their drinking water thanks to natural instincts. A kitty might turn her nose up at a fresh bowl of water simply because she doesn’t care for the bowl itself.

Cats tend to prefer running water over still water in a bowl, so giving your fur darling water from the faucet is a great treat. But, be sure she likes the chosen bowl and its location while always keeping it filled with clean, fresh water. Read 10 Reasons Cats Don’t Like Drinking Out Of Water Bowls for ideas on helping your cat stay hydrated.

8. Teasing the Fur Baby

Cats are regal beings who don’t take criticism well. Nor do their majesties care for being taunted. Gentle mischievous play that happens between you and your cat is one thing. But, cats don’t take well to poking, pulling, or chasing from strangers or loved ones. Respect a cat’s space and refrain from behavior that will lead to kitty feeling scared or unsafe.

9. Dressing Kitty in Cutesy Clothes

Cat lovers generally get weak over pictures of cute cats in clothes. But most of those adorable kitties aren’t lovers of clothes. The domesticated feline of today traces their roots to wildcat ancestors. Think you could get a shirt on a tiger of old?

Clothing can agitate cats not only because they don’t like to be teased, but cloth around their bodies can make cats feel restrained and hinder their agility. Now that said, you know your cat, maybe he’s a glamour puss who loves his wardrobe. But take cues from kitty’s reaction to an outfit. You’ll know if he loves it or hates it.


10. Cats Don’t Like Joy Rides 

Familiar territory and habit are two of a cat’s favorite things. Removing your cat from these safe feelings and putting them in the car can cause panic. To a cat, the car in an unfamiliar space that moves at high speeds to a new and faraway territory, shattering the routine she knows in a day.

Image Source: Concetta Scaramuzzi via Flickr

Is travel anxiety a nightmare for your cat? Try these 6 Ways To Calm Your Cat During Travel.

11. Staying up in Kitty’s whiskers, 24/7 

Cats crave security. Having a ‘safe space’ where she can hide if the need arises is important.

A cat’s special place can be anything from a whole room to a battered cardboard box. Something to remember about your kitty’s safe spot? Sometimes cats go there to hide not from fear, but from a simple wish to be alone. Cats are independent and don’t truly want to hurt your feelings, but they do need their alone time. Respect your cat’s need to hide or chill on his own a minute. Allowing them their space will help strengthen the love bond between you and kitty dear. Respect brings security and love where cats are concerned.

Forcing a cat into interaction only invites a rift in the harmony of cat/human relationships.

12. Not lavishing your kitty overlord with attention when they so choose

While space is key when your cat demands it, be sure you’re there to shower kitty baby with love and cuddles when the request is made. While cats enjoy their alone time, they crave love just like us. Beyond the snuggles, be sure to spend time playing with your cat too. Read about “prey preference” to choose the ultimate toy selections for your cat.

While entertaining for both of you, playtime creates quality time that keeps your cat in tiptop shape and happy.

13. Cats dislike having their sweet feet declawed

Do not declaw your cats. It’s an unnecessary and painful surgery that does more than take a cat’s claws. Declawing is a procedure that amputates bone from a cat’s paws. Cats can be left with constant pain which can, in turn, breed a sense of feeling defenseless or vulnerable. Cats which linger in such insecure emotions can grow aggressive to make up for the constant sense of being at the world’s mercy.

Plus, an uncertain world brings circumstances we can’t always control and if your cat winds up outside without claws, she will be without her chief weapons of defense. Check out 7 Reasons To Never Declaw Your Cat for more.

Try these tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association to keep your cat’s claws in manageable condition:

  • Frequent nail trims – every 1 to 2 weeks
  • Nail caps – replaced every 4 to 6 weeks
  • Positive reinforcement training, beginning in kittenhood
  • Pheromone sprays and/or plug-ins
  • Attach sticky tape or tinfoil to surfaces where cats don’t belong

14. Ignoring grooming needs 

Aside from keeping your cat’s nails manicured, their overall person should be cared for as well. Kitties do well at keeping themselves groomed but give him a hand staying clean and sleek. While cats aren’t typically fans of baths or nail trimming, being unkempt is more of a disaster in their eyes.

Clean by nature, cats can’t stand a whisker out of place, and by brushing their fur, humans can help keep mats from forming in their coats. Those big tangles of fur can cause pain, just as snagging on overlong claw can too. And fleas and ticks, let’s not even go there. Everyone hates those.

Grooming is one exception where it’s worth doing something your cats dislike. It’s a momentary discomfort for the benefit of their overall well-being. Read VetBabble’s Cat Grooming Basics to transition your cat into comfortable grooming practices.

15. Ignoring their Food Bowl Whims

Okay, the food bowl is a sticky area. Cats and humans have different ideas of empty. Empty in our minds is a few kibbles on the bottom of the bowl, but a kitty cat sees two bites missing as a catastrophe of famine. While this seems to be a battle of wills, be sure your cat is just being picky. If your cat truly doesn’t like the food and refuses to eat, give in, and offer him food he likes. Empty bellies lead to hurt feelings and angry sentiments.

There are many things cats dislike and they’re usually pretty upfront about. But watch for subtle signs just in case. Correct any problems which could lead to unhappiness early. Your kitty angel will love you even more for keeping their world just purrfect.

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