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Why is my cat suddenly avoiding me?

When your usually friendly feline suddenly seems to be evading your affectionate advances, it’s easy to feel downhearted. Establishing the reason behind your cat’s unexpected boycotting of your attention can be a tricky task.

Your cat suddenly avoids you because this is what cats do from time to time. Perhaps a recent event has made it temporarily wary of you or anyone else who happens to come near. It might stoically ignore your attempts to repair your relationship but a cat usually reverts to its old self within a day or so.

A cat avoiding people by hiding in a pop-up tent.

If your cat suddenly steers clear of you, fear not! As a lifelong cat owner, I’ve suffered all kinds of undeserved treatment at the paws of many a kitty and have prepared a list of causes and cures for a cat’s apparent stand-offishness!

The secret is, don’t try too hard and let your cat come to you when it’s ready to.

The top 9 reasons why your cat is suddenly avoiding you

1. Something negative happened

If your cat loves your attention one day and the next day avoids you like the plague, it may be because you inadvertently upset it yesterday.

Think back. Did you accidentally tread on his paw or tail? Did you get a little impatient when he persistently jumped on the counters, maybe you even raised your voice or squirted him with water?

If your cat was due a trip to the vets and you suddenly chased it to capture it, it might be avoiding you in case of a repeat of this action.

Cats have memories for this type of situation and may hold a grudge for a day or two. But as long as the negative event doesn’t occur again, that memory will soon fade and your cat will be back to its usual sociable self.

It’s easy to believe your cat’s actions are calculated and intended as a retaliation. This simply isn’t the case as cats are not vengeful creatures. They simply avoid situations that they associate with a bad memory.

Obviously, no one intends to tread on their cat! But if you are trying to deter it from a specific behavior, use positive reinforcement rather than punishments to amend such behavior. Patience and consistency are key.

2. You left it alone

If you’ve been working from home and have suddenly gone back to the office, or if you’ve just returned from a vacation, your cat may be confused and react by avoiding contact with you.

Cats quite like company so try to avoid leaving one alone for long periods. This is why I recommend getting two cats if at all possible as they keep each other company if you have to go out.

If you can’t get two cats, make sure your cat’s environment is enriched and exciting, and pay it plenty of attention by instigating its favorite type of play when you do come home. This is a great way to reinforce the bond between the two of you.

Your cat should soon get used to your absences and stop avoiding you when you are around.

3. You changed your routine

If you suddenly change your routine and this means an amendment to your cat’s routine too, it may react by avoiding your attention.

Cat’s thrive on routine and get used to what happens when. For example, I got up at 6 am a few weeks ago because one of my cats was pleading to go outside.

Now if I get up around that time, say to visit the bathroom, she dashes to the door to be let out. If I don’t go down and open the door, she acts bemused.

If your cat is avoiding you because you’ve initiated a change in your routine (and his), he’ll soon adjust and be back to his usual self. Just don’t keep chopping and changing things too much.

A cat hiding in a linen cupboard.

4. You introduced a new pet into the household

I’m not sure it’s fair to say a cat sulks, but if he was the center of your universe and suddenly you introduce another pet, this could rock his happy existence.

It’s not at all unusual for a new household pet to seemingly put an existing cat’s nose out of joint, resulting in him making himself scarce when you try to make it up to him.

Always introduce a new cat by following a proven cat introduction plan like the one I’ve included here. Once your cat is used to a new cat (or any other pet), he should stop avoiding you and revert to his usual sociable ways.

5. It’s feeling unwell or has an injury

Cats are exceptionally good at disguising illness but if it’s concealing an ailment you may notice your cat suddenly becomes withdrawn and avoid being fussed over.

If you suspect this and there’s no change after 24 hours, you would be wise to seek advice from your vet.

Always check your cat for an injury if it exhibits any sudden behavioral changes. For instance, it could be avoiding you because it doesn’t want you touching an abscess or a cut paw.

Again, a trip to the vet may be the best course of action.

6. Something scared it

If something has spooked your cat, he may withdraw if you try to give him any attention. A sudden close encounter with a strange cat or dog can sometimes trigger this type of reaction or a loud crash close by.

Give your cat a day or so if this is the cause of it avoiding your attention and it should be back to its old self.

7. Something is distracting it

Cats are wonderfully inquisitive (nosey if you like) and when something interesting is going on they may be so distracted that they take no notice of you.

Your cat may even seem to be avoiding you whilst it is engrossed in its investigation. Once the distraction has ceased, your cat will most likely be there for you again.

A cat making itself scarce among some plants.

8. It needs you less at certain times

Cats go through phases of being more and less clingy.

Kittens are usually too busy for a fuss unless they are exhausted. As they mature, cats can get so busy in their own little worlds that they just don’t need to spend that much time with you.

In my experience, cats hit a certain age and become more and more cuddly and spend more and more time in the same room as you or even on your lap.

You may just have to be patient, and what will be will be. The more you bond, groom and play with your cat at a young age, the more sociable it should be with you as it ages.

9. It’s experiencing cognitive issues

Sometimes, older cats can experience cognitive issues, loss of sight or hearing, and become warier of people in general. This is because they can’t judge properly why they are being approached.

Vets can treat certain cognitive problems so it’s definitely worth having a consultation.

If your cat is losing his hearing, he will simply ignore the usual signals that bring him running.

With impaired sight, a cat can seem nervous and avoid people because he can’t clarify what or who is approaching.

In summary: Why your cat is suddenly avoiding you

Often, when you think your cat is avoiding you out of the blue or even beginning to dislike you, it is just a passing phase. It can even be in your imagination. Give it a day or so and usually, things are back to normal.

Occasionally, you are right and your cat is deliberately staying out of your way. Hopefully, you will establish the cause and you’ll both be getting on like a house on fire before you know it.