Are You Being Gaslighted by Your Cat? Four Confusing Behaviors Explained

Cats are free to live their lives on their terms. We often question our sanity when they behave in a way that makes us wonder if we really care about them. It’s as if we don’t pay attention to the cardboard boxes that were sent with our cat beds. We spoke to a cat owner who said that his cats will enter a room, then they’ll want to go and play like he trapped them. These cats are wild cats who have been brought into your home by their owners. Sometimes they can make you crazy.

Here’s the truth: Your cat’s behavior is always justified. You can figure it out.

Below are some common feline behavior that can drive feline guardians crazy.

1. Cat that suddenly chooses a different type of meal

One of my cats refuses to eat the same food for several weeks a few times per year. Monday: tuna in gravy. Tuesday: tuna in gravy. Wednesday: Tuna gravy is only for peasants. Are you mad? Am I misunderstanding the label? It’s exactly the same food she had the day before. Cats, like humans, love variety and will eat the same thing every day.

VCA Ark Animal Hospitals warns that too many choices (aka changing your cat’s diet every day) can lead to picky eating habits. Jackson Galaxy, a world-renowned expert on cat behavior and wellness, suggests that cats should be allowed to try different foods. If your cat is placed in care by someone else or at shelter, it’s a great skill to be able to adapt. It’s also important to give your kittens variety so they can find what they like. To find what works, try a variety of textures, meats and shapes.

Another thing: Felines love warm, fresh meat. Wet food should always be kept at room temperature. My cat, however, will eat the pate straight from the can. He won’t touch it if it has been stored in the fridge. I have to agree with him that he prefers chicken liver at room temperature. He isn’t picky, but he is a tiny panther.

If your cat is refusing to eat or being picky about food, it’s time to visit the vet. If you notice a dramatic shift in behavior, you’re not crazy. Your gut will tell you if something is wrong. Talk to your vet about it!

2. Cats that demand one thing, then quickly change their minds.

As we saw in the first paragraph, cats can be indecisive when it comes to where and what they want. Let’s begin with the cats who wanted to enter a room but then begged to be allowed out. First, your cats have access to their rooms. This is a good thing. Galaxy claims that he doesn’t like cats being allowed to use off-limits areas. Galaxy considers bedrooms “scent-heavy” spaces. Cats thrive when they feel secure in their territory and have ownership of it.

Separation anxiety is when your cat cannot be left alone in a room without you. This could be attention-seeking behavior. Boredom could also be a possibility. To figure out what is going on, look for context clues.

One cat I know loves to be outside and begs for it. My cats on the other side beg to go outside but hate being outside. It’s quite confusing. Ms. Picky Eater will beg at the front door, but then she’ll lay down in the hallway of the apartment if I open the door. Then, she will come back in. Mr. Warm Pate would love nothing more than to climb down our back staircase. Then he scrambles at the sound his own paw landing on that creaky stair. They convince me day after day that they want to go outside, but I know it ends up giving them the heebie jeebies. I have instead furnished our home with many perches, pads, and posts to encourage their adventure-seeking behavior and entertainment.

3. The cat who begs for play, then…stops

Cats that are asking to play in a room or hall with you may be begging. Every cat needs playtime, but it will look different for each cat. Playtime could be defined as your cat’s behavior of meowing and seeking attention for hours, and then suddenly swats at the feather wand without any effort to engage them. You need to find out what your cat likes. Some cats will meow until the curtain is pulled back. They can see the bird’s nest outside, and they fantasize about eating sparrows. Some cats (mine included) will meow at night because they want to chase their laser pointer. Your cat may not be playing fetch like Scooby Doo, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoying playtime.

Pro tip: Playtime can be a bonding time. Even small amounts of interactive play can improve your relationship with your cat and help you to better understand one another. Do this daily.

4. The cat who ignores you completely

This is normal. Your cat should sit down at a reasonable distance from you and face away. It may look like they are ignoring you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are pissed. This could be a sign that they don’t want to touch you, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are refusing to let you touch them. This cat body language indicates that your cat trusts and respects you. It also means that you are making sure they feel safe and comfortable. Predators don’t want to be left vulnerable to surprise attacks from behind. A feline trusts you when they have their back to you. This is also true for the belly up move. Do not rub their exposed stomachs. You can do the opposite. Your cat will do the opposite.

You don’t have to be concerned if your cat sits on its back and stares at the ceiling silently. They may appear to be able to. Not. Care. Less. About. You. Au contraire! This relaxed, front-facing posture is indicative of a confident cat. Studies show that cats can communicate with people by looking at them. Cats love to give sweet gestures such as a dead-eyed stare.

The ASPCA also reminds us that cats are independent by their nature and require some alone time (who doesn’t ?!).?). Research on feline history and domestication shows that cats are solitary animals that have only recently begun to live with humans. Although cats can hear commands, mine recognize them by name, it is not clear if they actually follow through. Your cat may be making an active decision to ignore you rather than obeying you (or hasn’t been trained).

If you feel your cat is completely gaslighting, you are not alone. They are considered miniature lions and are revered by ancient Egyptian Gods. They do their best to be as humane as possible, just like you.

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