6 Subtle Signs Your Cat is Secretly Mad At You


Normally, when your cat is angry with you, they'll let you know it - usually with a swipe of a claw and a big hiss. But besides this very obvious communication of anger or displeasure, cats also communicate in much more subtle ways.

Since they can't speak, cats talk in their own nonverbal ways, namely through body language. These signals are often displayed before a cat gets angry enough to lash out - we often just don't see them, or don't know they're there. For instance, when you're petting your cat and they suddenly swat at you, seemingly out of the blue. 

Here are 6 subtle signals your cat may be giving you to show they're getting upset. 

1. Pay Attention to The Tail

Image result for angry cat tail

Most seasoned cat owners know that cats communicate largely with their tails. For new cat owners, it can be a bit difficult to discern what these tail positions mean! If your cat's tail starts lashing back and forth, looking almost like a dog wagging its tail, it indicates your cat is upset. Unlike a dog wagging its tail in excitement or happiness, a cat with a tail whipping back and forth is irritated, angry, and probably about to pounce! 

2. Don't Forget the Ears 


A cat's ears are more than just cute little satellites. They're also a way for your cat to communicate with you - and other animals. If a cat is feeling threatened or upset, their ears will turn flat and toward the side. They look almost like airplane wings! This also helps buffer any upsetting sound that comes from that direction - but they're also more protected from any attackers. Owners can consider this to be early ear-warnings to back off and stop whatever has prompted the cat to feel threatened.

If your cat is past uneasy or anxious, and straight-up angry or scared, their ears will be pinned flat to their head. This is usually when a cat feels cornered or in danger, and is likely to lash out and protect itself. 


Cat Condo - The Jungle Gym Cat Tree

3. It's All In the Eyes

Constricted pupils can indicate your cat is agitated or angry. If your cat’s eyes are big and round and their pupils are the size of pinpricks, it doesn't necessarily mean they're angry. But pair constricted pupils with a lashing tail, and your cat is definitely trying to let you know they're upset about something. 


4. The Cold Shoulder

Some cats that are more reserved in showing their affection will often show they love their humans by actually being in the same room as them - and even following them from room to room when they move. If a cat is mad or annoyed with you, they might leave the area you're in or sit and stare at you from across the room, just observing your movements. Sometimes it's best to just give your cat some space to calm down, especially if there is something that is stressing them out. 


5. They Get Twice as Fluffy

When a cat is feeling uneasy, gets suddenly startled, or is extremely upset, their fur will puff up. This is something of a defense mechanism - when they fluff up all their fur, they look much bigger and much more intimidating.  

6. The Stare Down

In the animal world, prolonged eye contact is seen as an act of aggression and dominance. So if your cat is staring you down with those thin, constricted pupils ... well, you get the drift by meow! 


Causes of Stress/Upset in Cats

And while a grumpy kitty every now and then is to be expected (like with any animal), if it happens more often than usual, it might be time to try and get to the bottom of why. Is your cat stressed or maybe unhappy? Here are some causes to consider.

  • Environmental changes, such as the introduction of a new household member or change in the physical environment (construction, etc)
  • A sudden change in daily routine
  • A "boring" household environment that doesn't allow for normal cat behaviors like hunting, scratching and territory "marking"
  • Conflicts between cats or other animals caused by the introduction of a new pet into the household
  • The loss of another companion pet or owner. 




  • Bri

    PSA to Leanne my female cat did the same thing when I brought my other cat home for the first time when I tell you she screamed for an hour straight howling and hid in the closet pacing and hissing at me. She refused to let me get near her to calm her down. But my ex who walked in the door with me she was fine petting her lol. It’s odd isn’t it? I’m the one who adopted her but he was used to being the only cat she loves him now & they’re a bonded pair I would say. She’s gotten a lot friendlier since he’s all over me too she wants to fight for the attention sometimes even tho she’s a loner. I realized how much getting another cat helps lol my vet said she has single kitten syndrome too many negative destructive behaviors until I got him she adapted and they balanced each other out. :)

  • Charliey.

    I have two cats one a calico and the other a tabby. My tabby’s name is Gomby, she is very old and very lovey but lately she’s been hiding under my bed and I don’t know what to do. My other cat l, my calico, (her name is cat) is very fat, but very sweet she also sheds a lot. I love here and she loves my bed so much when I go to bed and go to take her out of my room shell sit there and meow for like thirty minutes before leaving.

  • Lisa

    I have two cats and I had to put one of the cats down because she got sick at 13 years old. My other cat acts like he’s mad at me because I had to do this. He stares at me he doesn’t wanna come around me is this something I need to be worried about

  • Leanne

    I have a 3 year old female that we adopted at 1 yr old. We didn’t know her history. It took a long time for her to come out of the room she claimed as hers but when she did she was very affectionate around me and my husband, she just hates to be held and will scratch you or pee on you if you try. She is very close to my 9 yr old dog, they are best friends. So last September I had a flea problem and put a serresto collar on both of them. Immediately she started acting wierd and wouldn’t come near us. I did some research and found out how bad they are for cats so I wrangled her again and took it off. Her neck was very irritated. A month later we had to bring her to the vet for shots and it took two days before we could get her into the crate to bring her. So, now she hates me! She won’t sit on my lap anymore and when she sees me she runs away. I’m so sad about this, I feel like I’ve let her down. I’m the one who feeds her and cleans her litter box but she loves my husband who does nothing! It’s so unfair

  • Johnny

    My cat is two yrs old. I got her at 9 weeks. My dog was 9 yrs old at the time and welcomed the kitten. They became best friends and often slept snuggled up together until a week ago. My cat has suddenly turned into Cujo. I haven’t a clue as to what started this. Whenever the dog comes near, she screeches and starts to fight him. The poor dog is bewildered and frightened by her behavior and frankly, so am I. I have to put her in a cage to keep her from attacking the dog. I don’t know what’s going on with her. Has anyone else experienced this. Does it ever stop? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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