7 Reasons Your Cat Feels Misunderstood — And What You Can Do About It

Cats are vocal creatures and when they can't communicate, they get sad. Here are several reasons your cat can feel misunderstood and what you should do.

Christine Schoenwald

Updated November 10, 2022 • Published March 03, 2020

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7 Reasons Your Cat Feels Misunderstood — And What You Can Do About It

Cats have the reputation of being standoffish, too self-sufficient, and emotionless. While they can be those things; they can also be the total opposite: too full of love, clingy, and super-emotional. It’s just hard to tell because they hide their feelings so well.

You can’t assume that all cats feel the same way or that the only things they need from humans is food, water, and a clean litter box — they have emotional needs too.

If you don’t know how to interpret the things that they do, your cat(s) could end up feeling misunderstood and frustrated at the ineffective communication they have with you.

It’s possible for you and your cats to develop a better understanding of each other, but first, you need to look at ways that you might not be interpreting what your cat is telling you in the right way.

John Bradshaw, cat behavior expert says, “Many cats and their owners gradually develop an individual ‘language’ that they both understand but that is not shared by other cats or owners.”

Here are some reasons that your cat may feel misunderstood:

You Don’t Acknowledge Their Artistic Sensibilities

When they tear up a roll of toilet paper instead of praising them for their use of non-traditional materials; you get angry at them for wasting paper products. How are they supposed to express themselves within the realm of the Avant-Garde if you’re too concerned with practicality? Try to see things from their perspective and have patience with their artistic process, and then put the TP out of their reach.

You Don’t Appreciate Their Gifts

When they brought you that dead bug, you immediately took it from them and threw it in the trash. How would you like it if they did that with the catnip toy you gave them? You’d feel as if they were ungrateful and insensitive. Next time, instead of recoiling in horror at their gift, you could praise them before disposing of it.

You Refuse To Learn Their Language

Meow is a lot like the word “aloha.” While aloha is commonly used (for tourists) to mean “hello” or “goodbye,” it’s also a culturally and spiritually meaningful word that conveys everything from peace to pity. Meow doesn’t just mean that their litterbox needs cleaning, it could indicate that they’re not feeling well, they’re feeling lonely, or they just want some quality time with you.

Start to listen closely to the tone and timbre of your cat’s meow. When does it sound urgent or demanding? Is there a type of vocalization that they do more often than others? What about their body language? Does it correspond with one type of meow over another? Is their tail up or down because a drooping tail could mean that your cat feels defensive or submissive.

Your cat wants you to understand what they’re trying to tell you and is giving you clues on how to decipher their meaning. Look at the way you speak to them because they’re going to make assumptions based on your volume and intensity that may not be what you’re trying to communicate.

You Get Mad At Them When They’re Having Fun

Naps are everything but everybody needs to do something physical to break up the day. Running at full speed is a great way to clear the brain and get pumped — so what if in the process, a full bowl of dry food gets knocked over? Don’t be a killjoy, let your cat express their kitten-side without getting yelled at.

You Don't Understand How They Say "I Love You"

When your cat gives you the slow blink it isn't because they've got something in their eye or they’re fighting off sleep. A slow blink is their way of saying that they love you, so when they do this, do it back and let them know that you love them too.

You Misinterpret Their Actions

You think when you come home that they’re rubbing up against you to manipulate you into doing something that they want, instead of seeing it as a friendly greeting and marking you as “theirs.” Sure, there are times when your cats are working you, but sometimes, they’re just happy to see you and glad that you’re safe.

They Get Blamed For Things They Don’t Do

Most of our cats are mischievous and it can be difficult to know which perp committed the crime, so sometimes one cat will get blamed for another’s bad behavior. When a cat is blamed unfairly, it hurts their feelings.

If you find the remote on the floor in pieces, instead of accusing the most likely culprit, don’t do anything. Besides. if you try to discipline a cat after some time has passed since, they can’t connect the dots. They don’t know they’re getting in trouble for something that happened an hour ago; they just feel that you’re picking on them.

With a little effort on both your parts, you and your cat can learn to pick up on the subtle clues each of you is giving and learn how to better understand each other. With understanding, comes a deeper level of love and connection.

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