Have you ever walked up to a cat, and after she took one look at you, she ran the other way? You’re not lonely at all.
If it’s your pet and she only does it sometimes, especially if she strokes, taps, or even hits you with her paw before running away, it’s probably a fun “catch me if you can” dare: a trap to get you to play.
Your cat is probably running away because it doesn’t like being touched, picked up, or anything else it thinks you will do to it if you get too close.
If you move toward a cat, it will almost certainly run away if it thinks something bad is about to happen.
Why Does My Cat Run Away From Me?
Most of us know that our cats can be smart, sneaky, and have their own minds. One minute, they might love long stroking sessions, and the next, you might find them hiding in a dark corner, which they might call “alone time.”
Even though most of us love our cats, especially the weird things they do, it’s impossible not to feel hurt when they are left out. It’s important to remember that just because your cat runs away from you doesn’t mean they don’t love you.
Remember that there are many ways to change this short-lived feeling, but first we need to find out what causes it.
1. Poor Socialization
People say that everything starts when you’re a child. For cats, that means being a kitten. Cats have to learn how to get along with other people, and the first 9 weeks of their lives are very important for this.
This means that your kitten or cat may be afraid of people if they were not handled well by people or had little to no contact with them.
For example, feral cats are likely to have had little or no contact with people during that time, making them wary of them.
“Owners of more socialized kittens said their cats were much more supportive emotionally, and fewer of these cats behaved in ways that showed they were afraid of people,” according to studies.
So, when you go to an adoption centre near you, make sure to ask about your cat’s time to get used to other people.
Your vet or an animal behaviourist may also be able to give you more tips on how to help your cat feel less anxious, improve their social skills, and heal your relationship with them so they stop running away.
2. The Fear Instinct
Today, cats are kept as pets, but a study published in the academic journal Science says that the process of taming cats started as early as 12,000 years ago. This is in contrast to dogs, which are thought to have come from wolves between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.
So even though cats have come a long way, they still have the same instincts as their ancestors. The author of “Cat Sense,” John Bradshaw, says that cats used to be solitary animals that didn’t need any special skills.
Even though being around people forced cats to learn how to talk to us, like meowing, they still act a lot like their ancestors. One is to hide during the day and go hunting at night.
If you just brought your cat home, they might think you are a threat, which would make them want to hunt. “Catch me if you can!” could also be a game they want to play.
If your kitten isn’t new, but they usually run away or walk backwards when you approach them, it could be that the way you’ve approached them from the beginning has made them nervous.
If they think someone is after them, they might not know what will happen if they are caught.
3. Traumatic Past
Trauma is often thought to be a normal part of life, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Like people, animals react to trauma in many different ways,” says Hana Surowinski, who runs an animal sanctuary in Kabul called Nowzad. “How it shows up in that animal is unique to that animal.”
Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, an associate professor of psychology at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, says that because the parts of the brain involved in stress reactions are similar in animals and humans, the symptoms of PTSD in animals are similar to those of PTSD in humans.
Studies show that abuse and neglect can have both short-term and long-term psychological and emotional effects, so a traumatized cat can be any age. If you find your cat running away from you and showing signs of hostility or constant fear, they may have had a traumatic past.
Some cat owners use punishment to stop their cats from doing things like scratching furniture or jumping up on kitchen counters.
Some use cat-friendly methods like scents to keep cats away from certain areas, while others shower their cats with water bottles. Punishment can only cause stress, and stress can cause trauma.
Karen L. Overall, VMD, Ph.D., DACVB, tells us some good news when she says, “Animals can recover from abuse, but it takes time and active help.”
4. They Want Space
Cat owners, both new and old, should remember that each cat is unique and has its own personality. In this way, cats are just like people, who can be introverts, extroverts, or both.
For example, my two cats couldn’t be more different when it comes to how they interact with other people.
One is very friendly and outgoing with everyone, while the other prefers his own company and sometimes mine. The differences between my cats affect how I treat them.
Maybe you don’t pay enough attention to your cat and come up to it at the wrong time. If it’s busy or just wants to be alone, don’t go up to it and scare it away; instead, give it some space and let it come to you.
5. The Age Factor
As we’ve already said, kittens have a way of integrating humans into their lives, which happens during the socialization period.
If you just got a kitten and it’s running away from you, try to be patient. I’m sure the kitten will need some time to get used to its new environment and you.
Recognizing your kitten’s needs for adjustment will help you build a trusting relationship with them and give them the confidence they need.
On the other hand, if your senior cat suddenly avoids you, it may be because he or she is getting old.
According to Richard Goldstein, DVM, assistant professor in small animal medicine at Cornel University College of Veterinary Medicine, “some cats may need more emotional support as they age, and others may prefer to be left alone.”
Your cat may be too old for your energetic attention, so try a different, gentler approach.
6. Sensitivity To Loud Noise
When I rush up to my cats, I realize that I make a lot of noise, partly because of my shoes and partly because they’re so cute that I have to squeal at them.
I swear I keep my cool most of the time and try to be a good cat mom because cats don’t like loud noises and harsh sounds.
This cat must agree, because after hearing that sneeze, he’s running for his life!
So, instead of running up to your cat, try to slow down and watch how it acts. This will make it feel safe with you and show it that you’re not just a clumsy, loud freak.
7. Environmental Changes
According to a study published in the Scientific World Journal, “the quality and quantity of human-animal interactions experienced by cats are both relevant to their welfare outcomes in different situations,” and “the social environment is of great importance to cats.”
Because contact with our cats is so important, you may be wondering why my cat runs away from me.
Instead, you may want to find out what changed to cause this. If you get a new cat, your old one may be jealous and unable to adjust to the new situation.
Your cat may be avoiding you because you have visitors or new people living with you who make them feel uncomfortable. Cats are creatures of habit, so any change in their environment or daily routine could make them feel uneasy.
Moving to a new house could cause this, but it could also be something as simple as a change in their feeding schedule.
An automatic wet food feeder can help you schedule their meals more precisely. However, help your cat adjust to the new situation by giving them more attention so they don’t think you’re ignoring them.
8. A Dominant Cat
It’s also possible that one of the cats has claimed you as part of its territory, so the other cat can’t come near you. Cats can be aggressive in different ways, and it’s not unusual for one cat to pick on another.
It can be hard to get two cats to live together, and studies show that “when the cats are brought together, essential resources like food, litter boxes, shelter, and social interaction must be available in enough quantity to make sure there is no needless conflict.”
So, making sure there are enough resources around the house, giving them both the same amount of attention, and slowly reintroducing your kittens can help change the dynamic and find a fair balance.
9. They’re In Heat
When cats reach sexual maturity, they can act in a number of different ways. Whether you let your cat outside or not, it may run away from you because it has heard another cat outside and wants to find it.
A cat in heat may be less pleasant because it is more focused on its instinctual need to reproduce than on you.
Even if you have neutered your male cat, he may still act like a sexually aggressive cat, but this is rare.
Dodman, Nicholas, BVMS, Dipl. According to the ACVB, “many male behaviours, such as hostility between men and sexual aggression, may not be completely stopped and may last for years after superman castration.”
10. They Found A New Home
Cat owners who let their cats roam freely outside may be more worried about this. If your cat is in heat, you may notice that they become less active as mating season approaches. For this reason and to stop the birth of stray cats, we must neuter or spay our cats.
But if your cat has been neutered but still runs away from you every time you get close, it could be because they prefer the outside.
Your cat may be less touchy-feely by nature, making the outside world more interesting. It’s also possible that they have a second family.
It can happen to people who aren’t home much and are too tired to spend time with their cats.
This can happen to anyone, but it won’t make your cat feel any less unloved. If you don’t want to be replaced, spend more time with your cat.
You can get your cat to trust you again by spending more time with her, giving her lots of love, and treating her with respect. Then she won’t run away the next time!
How Can I Train My Cat to Stop Running Away From Me?
To stop a cat from running away, you need to do two things:
1. Teach your cat to be okay with you being there.
Let your cat get used to you being near him or her by staying close to him or her without touching him or her.
2. Get your cat to pay attention to you when you get close.
Obviously, I’ll go into more detail and show you the step-by-step process you should use below, so if you want to do this, keep reading.
Step 1: Training your cat to be okay with you coming near
With a cat that always runs away, the first problem you have to solve is a bit of a “catch-22.”
You can’t prove that you won’t be annoying up close and personal if you can’t even get close enough to your cat to show it that you won’t be annoying if you try.
The solution is to go up to your cat when it is doing something else, like eating or sleeping.
Put your cat’s dinner on the table and stand or sit next to it while it is eating.
Remember not to touch or even reach out to your cat. Just stay still with your hands behind your back, in front of you, or in your lap if you’re sitting.
If you have a shy cat and you sit or stand right next to the food bowl, your cat may not want to go near dinner at first.
But the smell of food and the fact that you haven’t moved or tried to get too close will convince Kitty that it’s okay to come over and eat.
Do this every time you feed your cat, and do the same thing if you want to give it a few snacks during the day (this trick will help you avoid overfeeding!).
Put the snack down, sit near your cat, and stay there until he or she is done eating and has left. Don’t move or touch your cat while he or she is eating.
The same is true for naps. Sit or stand next to your cat if he or she has fallen asleep in a corner.
If you do these things over and over again, your cat will be happy to let you get close because it will know you’ll just stand or sit nearby and not try to connect.
Even though your cat doesn’t think twice about walking over to the food bowl when you’re right there, you’ve started to gain his trust.
Once you’ve built up your cat’s trust, you can approach him or her carefully when he or she isn’t busy, like when he or she is sleeping, hanging out in a cat tree, or doing whatever else he or she is doing.
Approach your cat, stand there for a few minutes, and then walk away. Keep doing this until your cat no longer runs away when you approach him or her.
Step 2: Training your cat to be content to interact with you after you come near
To make sure your cat doesn’t forget this step, teach it:
- When you get close to someone, it doesn’t always mean something annoying is going to happen.
- When you get close to someone, it usually means something good is going to happen.
How would you get your cat to do what you want? Approach your cat carefully, and then shake things up!
For the next few weeks, walk up to your cat at random times and do something different from this list, alternating between different things so you don’t do the same thing too often:
- Go up to your cat and sit next to it, but not right next to it.
- Walk up to your cat and hold out your hand for it to sniff.
- Approach your cat, take a treat out of your pocket, and put it in front of him or her.
- Come up to your cat while he or she is eating and gently pet him or her.
- Go up to your cat and sit right next to it without moving or trying to talk to it.
- Get close to your cat, pull a treat out of your pocket, and try to get it to eat it from your hand.
- Get close to your cat and give it a quick, pleasant, and painless back scratch.
- Get close to your cat and give it some catnip that you brought with you.
I could think of a few more, but I’m sure you get the idea. Do a mix of “neutral” things, like walking up to your cat and not talking to it, and “mildly irritating” things, like petting or touching it.
Because nothing too bad happens most of the time, your cat will eventually learn to come close to you when something good happens.
One last thing
Most of our cats have their own habits and behaviours, and we can’t make them do anything. I’m sure that’s not what we’d want, but their independence might make us nervous at times, especially if they seem to be avoiding us.
Well, I’m sure our cats love us, even if they sometimes run away. All we can do is take care of them, respect their limits, and let them get close to us.
Have you ever wondered why your cat runs away from you? Did any of our answers help you figure it out, or do you have a different idea?
Do Cats Refuse to Come If They’re Scared?
Adrienne Kruzer says that stress is important for shy cats’ relationships with people. A cat’s early life can affect how comfortable it is around people.
If your cat was found on the street and brought to you, it may have been scared by a person at some point.
If your cat comes from a place like this and hasn’t spent much time with other people in the house, it may be shy.
If a cat has a bad experience with a person, like being tripped over or teased by a child, it can make them wary of people in general. This is especially true if the cat doesn’t get to interact with people very often.
If you make a loud noise that scares your cat, it may not want to come near you. The cat may think that the scary noise came from you and act accordingly. It may be necessary to earn the cat’s trust again.
Is It Common for Cats to Run Away If They Want to Be Left Alone?
Cats test their independence when they’re young. One way they do this is by becoming more independent of their owners. It’s best to leave your cat alone as long as it’s in the house and not in a dangerous situation.
A sudden change in the family’s routine, like getting a new pet, moving to a new house, or a child going off to college, can make a cat want to chill out. This is called sulking, and it’s a behaviour that cats do.
Everyday things like too much play, a fight with another pet, or being near a running vacuum can also make a cat want to relax. This is especially true if the thing is getting in the way of the cat’s normal routine.
If something happens in your home that makes your cat upset, you should give it some time to calm down.
Healthy cats will usually come to you when it’s time to eat. If a cat is hiding, gently coax it out of the area.
Do Cats Run Away Because They Treat It As a Game?
Richard Parker says that cats may sometimes run away to get their people to play with them.
Keep an eye on your cat when it does this so you can tell if it is trying to play or not. If it sneaks up on you and then runs away, this is a sign that it is trying to play. When cats are young, they start stalking and pouncing.
Kittens and some adult cats like to play hide-and-seek. When a cat sees you coming, it will likely run away. Some cats will play hide-and-seek when they are outside, which you should try to stop.
Even though it’s cute when your cat plays games with you, it’s not always the best. For example, you don’t want your cat to run away when you call it if it’s outside. When your cat is inside, limit these activities.
Cat Toys May Keep Them Engaged
Have some of your cat’s favourite toys nearby when you call it, and consider using interactive toys like fishing rods.
Using toys to keep your cat from running away can also be a great way to bond with it. When you play with your cat, it will start to think of you as a fun friend and look forward to what’s in store when it comes to you.
Most cats love their people, but they also need to be involved in their daily lives. Due to busy work schedules, cats may not get as much attention as they should. Cats are often thought of as hands-off pets.
Even though cats are more independent than dogs, they still need the same amount of attention. The closer you are to your cat, the less it will act up when it needs you.
Are Some Cats Likely to Run Away Because They Hate Handling?
Veterinarian Laura McRae talks about the different reasons why cats might not like being stroked. These reasons range from having been punished physically at some point in their lives to not getting enough socialization.
Some people punish their cats by hitting them or using other harsh methods. Hitting is painful and doesn’t work as a way to train a cat. If your cat has ever been hit by someone, he or she may not want to be touched.
A cat that has been socialized after the age of seven weeks may also be resistant to being touched. Kittens are most likely to be socialized if they are handled between the ages of two and seven weeks. Kittens are more wary of being handled after eight weeks.
Cats May Not Like Being Touched
Some cats, on the other hand, don’t like being touched. If a cat that doesn’t like being touched sees you coming, it may run away to avoid being touched. Surprisingly, many cats who don’t like being picked up by humans still like being around people.
When the cat comes near, keep some canned cat food or treats nearby. Let the cat sniff your hand before you try to pet it. If the cat doesn’t like having its head rubbed, try scratching its tail base or chin instead.
If your cat doesn’t mind being touched, give it wet food or cat treats as a reward. Do this every day, spending more and more time petting your cat. Your cat will likely get used to you if you do this every day.
Do Cats Run Away From You If They Think They’re Going to the Vet?
Elise Xavier says that cats often run away from their owners when they think something bad is going to happen. For example, many cats don’t like going to the vet.
If a cat associates being picked up with going to the vet, it may run away if you try to pick it up. Cats who have been to the vet before know what to expect, and that it all begins with being picked up and placed in a crate.
Every time you pick up your cat, start telling it how nice it is.
Try giving your cat its favourite wet food or treats as a reward. If your cat thinks that being picked up means getting a treat instead of going to the vet, it will be less likely to run away.
If your cat is always getting antsy, you might want to get a diffuser with calming scents. These diffusers will make your cat feel more at ease in the rooms where they are, making it less likely that your cat will have a stress reaction.
Stress Associated with Vet visits
One thing you can do is make your cat less worried about going to the vet. Many cats will still be nervous when they go to the vet, but reducing the number of other things that make them nervous is usually a good idea.
Another thing to think about is not bringing younger children with you. An older child or teen may be helpful, but a younger child may be too loud and scare the cat. You want to reduce your stress as much as possible.
Cats run away from their owners for many different reasons, most of which can be fixed. Find out why your cat is running away.
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