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Things Cats Hate: 26 Ways to Annoy Your Cat 

Let’s just admit one thing first: cats run any and every household they are a part of. While we may believe we are the ones calling the shorts, it is actually our feline companions who are in complete charge.

These little furry micromanagers like things done in specific ways. If they don’t like the water we’ve served them, cats will drink with their paws. They will follow us everywhere if they want to get our attention. They will watch us pee for no other apparent reason than to get on our nerves. 

If you are looking to get back at your cat for all of their shenanigans, here are 26 ways to annoy them. Use at your own discretion. 

(Needless to say, I am not actually advocating making your cat feel uncomfortable. The entire article should be viewed as a lighthearted list of things cats dislike, and serve as a guide to making your cat happier: not the opposite). 

1 – Meow at Them

While cats have invented meowing partly as a way to communicate with us, they tend to dislike having someone meow at them. Having a conversation is one thing, but if you come up to them and start meowing, they may not enjoy it. 

There are of course cats that will pay close attention to what you are saying and talk back. However, since you probably don’t actually speak cat, you may unknowingly be giving them orders to tear your favorite slippers apart, or to find a way to sneak into the fridge and eat all the leftovers. 

That’s not saying that cats never talk to each other though. Case in point, my all time favorite cat video:

2 – Wake Them Up

Cats love their sleep, and given the fact that they are perfectly capable of spending two-thirds of their day napping, it will come as no surprise that they hate being woken up. 

If you want to get on their bad side, wake them up as suddenly and as loudly as possible. Drop something, yell something, or turn the TV volume up. 

3 – Stare at Them 

In the animal kingdom, the one who wins a staring competition is considered the dominant one. Come to think of it, the same applies to humans. 

When you stare at your cat, they will think you are trying to exert your dominance over them, and they may view it as a sign of aggression or danger. Especially if you stare in their eyes. 

There is also something to be said about letting them win. They may become even more obnoxious if you let them believe they are in fact the sovereign in your home. 

4 – Let Their Food Sit Out for Too Long

Cats have sensitive noses, and will absolutely refuse to eat spoiled food. Even if it has been sitting in their bowl for just a bit longer than they would like it too, they will refuse to eat it. 

So, if you want to annoy them, leave their food out for way too long, and watch as it stiffens and starts to smell. If you would like to stay in their good books, feed them smaller amounts and wait for them to eat everything before you give them a fresh batch. If your cat likes to graze, leaving some dry food out can do the trick. 

5 – Don’t Clean Their Litter Box 

On a similar, but entirely different note, cats also don’t like unclean toilets. If you let their litter box sit all day long, they may refuse to use it. This can lead to all kinds of unwelcome gifts strewn across your home. 

Cleaning the litter box should be an everyday chore. If you have several of them and your cat only uses one at a time, you may be able to get away with cleaning it every other day. Don’t forget about regularly changing the litter completely, as well as washing the litter box. 

6 – Make Loud Noises 

Any loud or unexpected noise will startle your cat. If they are asleep, they will be extra frightened and confused. 

Consider the sound pollution in your home from a cat’s perspective. Even listening to music too loudly can be annoying or disturbing to them. On the other hand, they may also be completely weirded out by you lip syncing and dancing around to nothing, if you choose to use headphones.

7 – Give Them Tummy Rubs

Dog people will often try to give felines belly rubs, which may turn into a bit of a disaster. Cats realize their stomachs are vulnerable, and will only show them in submission. In other words, a belly rub is an unwelcome act, and should be avoided, unless the cat is the one who initiates it. 

8 – Groom Them

This will not apply to all cats, but some felines hate getting brushed or combed. This may be especially true of cats with longer coats, which can get matted and make brushing less comfortable. 

There are of course cats who love to get brushed, and who will actively seek you and the brush out. If your cat does not fall into this category, make sure to introduce brushing slowly, take your time, intersperse it with plenty of cuddles, and be very gentle.

Here’s Cole, proving that some cats love getting groomed:

9 – Carry Them Like a Baby 

Again not something that all cats will dislike: but some of them certainly hate being carried around like an infant. It puts them in an unnatural position, where their feet are in the air, and they feel like they can’t escape. 

If you want to carry your cat, try doing it so that they feel in control. Leave their feet as free as possible. I carry Sasha under my arm like a purse, for example, and she loves it. 

10 – Hold Their Tail 

Most cats also don’t like it when you hold their tail. Since this tends to be the part most children will reach for first, you may need to spend some time teaching your little ones that a cat’s tail is off limits. 

Especially refrain from holding their tail when they are wagging it, as this means they are upset or irritated. Again, some cats, Sasha included, will let their owners stroke their tail no questions asked. 

11 – Touch Their Paws

Some cats will also dislike it if you touch or tickle their paws, most notably when they are already feeling annoyed, or when they are trying to fall asleep. Some will have sensitive beans, and may just feel a bit ticklish (or at least that is the word we use for it). 

I used to know a Russian Blue who refused to let anyone touch her hind left leg. You could stroke her other paws no questions asked, but touching that one meant she would immediately relocate. And before you ask, there was nothing wrong with the leg, as several vet visits confirmed. She was just that kind of cat. 

12 – Make Unnecessary Contact 

Cats may also dislike it if you make what is to them unnecessary contact. This may include touching them absolutely anywhere when they don’t feel like it. It may include picking them up and carrying them somewhere they don’t want to go. Every time you interfere with a cat’s plans and enter their personal space, they may feel you are being extremely ungracious. 

13 – Let Them Smell It

Since cats have such amazing noses, they are very sensitive to smells, and can sense even things we don’t even get a whiff off. There are some scents that are particularly off-putting to them, including citruses, lavender, vinegar, peppermint, rosemary and pine. They also don’t like mustard or bananas. 

If you want to keep your cat away from something, dousing it in essential oils can be the solution. 

14 – Give Them Medicine 

I have yet to meet a cat that likes, or at least does not outright hate, taking its medicine. No matter how clever you are about slipping it to them, they will hate it. Never have I managed to hide any form of medicine in any type of food. 

The only thing to do is to place the medicine in their mouth and hold it shut, encouraging them to swallow. You can also wrap your cat in a towel, to prevent scratches. 

While they will certainly be a bit standoffish for a bit, cats don’t hold grudges, so all will be fine in a short while. 

15 – Give Them Too Much Attention

Cats like their independence, and will hate it if you give them too much attention. The attention can of course come in a variety of forms: cuddles, staring, noise, conversation, and so on. 

If you notice your cat would rather be alone, don’t force your company on them. They will come back when they want to cuddle, don’t you worry about that. 

16 – Give Them Too Little Attention 

On a slightly confusing note, cats will also hate it if you give them too little attention, the little devils. If they want to be pet, you just have to give in to them. If they want to be fed, you may just have to find them a bite. If they want to sleep on you and hold it against you if you try to get up, you will just have to train your bladder better. 

17 – Leave Them Alone 

Cats also don’t like to spend too much time alone. In fact, they would probably like it best if you could be around all the time, but if there was also some space available where they can retreat when they don’t want to be near you. 

If you are away from home a lot, don’t be surprised if your cat sticks to you like glue while you are home. They will simply need to make up for your absence. 

18 – Get Them a Mate 

Most cats are competitive by nature, and they won’t like any cat company. Unless they have grown up together and have already gotten along well, cats tend to have a hard time accepting a new feline member of the family.

This does of course not apply to all cats. Some of them will love to have a friend, so you will need to analyze your own pet’s inclinations before getting another cat. 

19 – Bring Strangers Around 

Much like dogs, cats don’t like having a lot of strangers invading their personal space. And while dogs tend to make friends more easily, cats can remain aloof for a long while. 

Consider the matter from their point of view. All they want is to relax in their own home, spend time with their favorite human, when all of a sudden these strange people appear, disrupting all of their carefully laid plans. You wouldn’t feel good about it either. 

20 – Give Them a Bath 

Cats are notorious for disliking water, but this is again not a rule that applies to all of them. Some will love to bathe in actual tubs, while others will just want to take a bit of a shower in the sink. 

Cats who don’t like baths will give you a really hard time if they ever need to have one. Wear thick gloves when bathing them, as you will likely get plenty of scratches otherwise. 

Here is Marvin, proving to you that some cats are more akin to ducks:

21 – Change Something – Anything 

Cats are also creatures of habit, so if you add any disruption to their usual routine, there will be some rebelion. Anything ranging from the smallest of changes, like your laundry detergent, to major disruptions like moving house or having a baby will make your cat feel under stress. 

To reassure them, make sure to provide plenty of cuddles and reinforce your love for them. They will need time to adapt, but they will get there in the end. 

22 – Change the Temperature 

Cats aren’t huge fans of the cold, so if for whatever reason you don’t turn the heat up to their liking, they may get annoyed. 

On the other hand, if it gets too hot in your home, their fur will insulate them somewhat, but you may need to let them sleep in a room with aircon, or at least throw themselves on the cool bathroom tiles.

23 – Dress Them Up 

The internet is full of cats wearing all kinds of costumes, from Halloween outfits to everyday stay-at-home attire. While some of them won’t mind this, most of them are well aware of the fact that they aren’t babies, and that they have no need for clothing whatsoever. 

Cats are just plain uncomfortable wearing anything, as it restricts their movement and makes them unnecessarily hot. Try not to pretend they are children, if you can restrain yourself. 

24 – Treat Them Like Dogs

Cats, as they would kindly ask you to remember, are not dogs. They don’t like to be trained, don’t understand the reward system, and certainly won’t be at your beck and call all the time. 

If you want someone to obey you, get yourself a Poodle, I can just hear them muttering. 

25 – Put Them in a Carrier

Most cats will dislike their carriers, simply because they most often mean a trip to the vet. Cats who travel to other places may have no problem with this box, as they are aware it can lead to all kinds of fun adventures. 

By making the carrier a part of the home, i.e. leaving it out for them to sleep and play in, you may be able to make them more comfortable in it. 

26 – Give Them a Ride 

For the same reason, most cats also don’t like car rides. If they are only ever taken to the vet, they will have all kinds of negative memories associated with this endeavor. Riding in a box that keeps moving around and lurching wouldn’t be your idea of fun either. 

Some cats of course love cars and traveling: Nala is a good example. 

Wrapping It Up 

Annoying your cat should be simple with these helpful tips. Just don’t blame us when they start to retaliate! 

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