Cat Behavior

Why Does My Cat Run Away from Me and What Do I Do to Stop It?

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One thing that cat owners know is that their pets are not fans of coming when called. Although many cats come when called, there are many contributing factors to cats running away. As annoying, stressful, or maddening is, you want to know why.

Why does my cat run away from me?

Some of the most common reasons include a fear response and trying to get privacy or playing a game. Some cats also resist handling, while others may associate the contact with vet visits.

This video showcases an example of how a shy cat may behave around its owners. Read on o learn about the circumstances that may explain your cat’s flighty nature.

Do Cats Refuse to Come If They’re Scared?

Adrienne Kruzer highlights how much of a role stress can play in shy cats’ interactions with people. Experiences early in life can impact how comfortable a cat is around people.

If your cat initially came from the streets, it may have had an experience with a person at some point that left it fearful.

When your cat comes from this type of situation and has minimal interaction with other household members, it may be shy.

A bad experience, such as having someone trip over it or having a child tease it, can make otherwise friendly cats suspicious of people in general. When cats have few opportunities to be around people, such incidents can increase cats’ wariness.

If you’ve made a loud noise that’s startled your cat, it may be hesitant to come to you. The cat may associate the frightening noise with you and behave accordingly. Rebuilding trust between you and the cat may be necessary.

Give your cat some time to calm down after it gets scared. Entice it with favorite foods or treats to encourage it to come to you. If visitors are the problem, confine your cat elsewhere when you have company.

Is It Common for Cats to Run Away If They Want to Be Left Alone?

Pam Turner cites a list of possible reasons cats want to be left alone, ranging from illness to overstimulation. Kitties that want to be left alone often won’t come.

Younger cats go through periods where they test out their independence. One of the ways that cats do this is by starting to become more independent of their owners. As long as your cat is in the house and not in a risky situation, it’s best left alone.

Sometimes, a sudden change to the household routine can make a cat need to decompress. Examples may include the addition of a new pet, a move to a new house, or a child moving out to go to college. This type of feline behavior may be considered sulking.

Everyday situations can also make a cat need to calm down. This situation is especially true when whatever is going on disrupts the cat’s routine. Examples may include overly robust play sessions, a fight with another pet, or being near a running vacuum.

If an incident in your home leaves your cat in need of decompression time, it is best to give it time to calm down.

Healthy cats will usually show interest in coming to you when it’s time to eat. Always coax cats out of areas where they are hiding gently.

Do Cats Run Away Because They Treat It As a Game?

Richard Parker has pointed out that cats sometimes run away as an enticement to get their owners to play.

To find out if this behavior is play-related or not, keep an eye on your cat when it’s taking part in this behavior. If you see in sneaking up on you, then running, this is an indicator it’s trying to play. Cats start stalking and pouncing as kittens.

Kittens and even some adult cats enjoy games of hiding and seek. When a cat sees you coming, it will likely run. Some cats will engage in these types of games while outside, which you will probably want to discourage.

Even though a cat playing a game with you is cute, there are times that this is not ideal. For example, you probably don’t want your cat running away when called if it’s outside at the time. Confine these activities when your cat is indoors.

Have a few of your cat’s favorite toys at hand when you call it. Consider using interactive toys, such as fish poles.

Using these toys will teach your cat that they get a reward, in the form of extra fun, for coming when you call them.

Using toys as a deterrent to your cat running away can also be an excellent bonding experience. When you take the time to play with your cat, it will see you as a fun companion and look forward to what awaits when it comes to you.

Although most cats appreciate their owners, kitties also benefit from daily interaction. With many people having busy job schedules, cats may not get as much interaction. A common misconception is that cats are hands-off pets.

Although cats are more solitary than dogs, they require attention just the same. The stronger your bond with the cat, the less bad behavior you will need to contend with when you need your cat to come.

Are Some Cats Likely to Run Away Because They Hate Handling?

Veterinarian Laura McRae highlights different reasons cats may object to being touched. These reasons range from having been physically disciplined at some point to poor socialization.

Some people, unfortunately, punish their cats by hitting or other violent methods. Hitting is a cruel way to discipline a cat that is also ineffective. If your cat has ever been in the care of someone who hit it, the cat might resist touch.

A cat that was socialized past seven weeks old might also be challenging about being handled. Kittens are the most likely to become adequately socialized if handled between two and seven weeks. After eight weeks, kittens are more skittish about handling.

There are also some cats who enjoy being touched less by nature. If a cat that hates being touched sees you approaching, it might flee to avoid being touched. Ironically, many cats that act panicky over being picked enjoy human company.

One of the easiest ways to get a cat accustomed to handling is by allowing it to interact with you on its terms. Make sure you’re sitting when the cat approaches. A person standing over a cat can seem needlessly threatening.

Have a little bit of canned cat food or treats handy when the cat approaches. Make sure the cat has a chance to sniff your hand before any attempts at petting. You might try a tail base or chin scratch if the cat doesn’t like its head touched.

If your cat tolerates the touching well, reward it with wet food or cat treats. Continue this exercise every day, increasing the time that you dedicate to petting with your cat. If followed consistently, your cat will likely warm up.

Do Cats Run Away From You If They Think They’re Going to the Vet?

Elise Xavier points out how cats often run from their owners if they think something undesirable is going to be done. For many cats, that unpleasant thing is a trip to the vet.

When a cat associates being picked up with going to the vet, it might run away if you try to pick it up. Cats used to vet visits know what is coming next and that everything starts with being picked up and put in a crate.

Start rewarding your cat for being nice whenever you pick it up. To reward your cat, trying using its favorite wet food or treats. If your cat associates your picking it up with a treat instead of a trip to the vet, it will be less inclined to run.

If your cat tends to get restless, regardless of the circumstances, consider getting a diffuser that uses calming scents. These diffusers will help your cat feel more at ease in rooms where they are present, decreasing the odds of a stress response.

One thing that you can do is decrease the stressors that surround taking your cat to the vet. Many cats will still get stressed when they go to the vet, anyway. However, reducing the number of additional circumstances that cause stress always helps.

Try taking your cat to the vet without other pets. Taking the cat by itself is less work for the vet staff, and also less stressful for the cat. You don’t need to worry about your cat getting agitated because of another pet acting up.

Another thing you may want to consider is not having younger children accompany you. Although an older child or teen could be helpful, a younger child could be too disruptive and scare the cat. You want to minimize the stress as much as possible.

Cats run away from their owners for mostly manageable reasons. Understanding why your cat runs from you makes it easier to resolve any issues that your cat is facing.

Stacy Reed is a writer who lives with three cats who never miss a chance to teach her more about life and, of course, cats. She has been a cat parent since her teens, having had cats ranging from domestic shorthairs to Siamese mixes. Some of what she specializes in writing about includes general cat care, as well as health and behavior.

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