Why Does My Cat Turn His Back on Me?

Cats are funny, cute and entertaining. Most of the time… 

Cats obviously aren’t human, but we tend to attribute certain cat behaviors as being rude because we’re seeing them from our point of view and how we were socialized and taught to behave. 

Cats have a lot of different behaviors that we see as rude, but are actually a compliment (from their point of view at least), that I could discuss, but in this article, I’ll be answering a question that a lot of people that live with cats, or that are just curious about cats, have.

Why do cats turn their back on us? 

Today I’ll be discussing why cats turn their back on us sometimes and why it’s not (always) rude. 

A Cat Turning Its Back Is A Sign of Trust

When a cat turns their back on you, you should actually be flattered. Cats mainly only turn their back when they feel safe. 

It’s an evolutionary holdover from before they became mostly domesticated.

If a cat turned their back on a predator, they’d be dead or badly hurt. They couldn’t afford to relax much. 

So, next time a cat turns around and sits comfortably with it’s back to you, don’t be offended. Feel glad they feel comfortable and safe with you. 

The Cat Might Just Be Going to Their Litter Box og To Eat

If your cat suddenly walks away, they might have to do something, like use their litter box. 

Since cats can’t talk, it’s not unreasonable or rude that they just walk away if they need to do their business, without excusing themselves. 

Same principle here. If you free feed your cat and they’re hungry, they’re just going to go eat. 

Again, perfectly reasonable. 

If you schedule your cat’s feeding time, you already know that they have ways of letting you know that they’re hungry! 

Cats Might Be Deciding What to Do

If they’re hungry and tired at the same time, they might be deciding if they’re hungry enough to eat first or eat when they wake up. 

Cats are masters at conserving energy, so are likely deciding whether it’s a good investment of their energy to “hunt” (go seek out their food) or to save it and sleep instead. 

Again this is an evolutionary holdover from pre-domesticated days. 

They might have decided that they were going to nap after all. 

Again, cats can’t directly say that they’re going to nap, so we can’t accuse them of bad kitty etiquette. 

A Back Turning Cat Can Be Bored or Annoyed

Cats are instinctual animals, so if their predator response is triggered by a toy, they kind of develop tunnel vision.

If they didn’t do that, they could lose their “prey”. 

This might be slightly rude (at least from our point of view), but this might be a sign that they’re just bored and not interested in what you’re doing or saying.

Cats are usually very curious. This “myth” about them is actually true, but when they see you day in and day out, they just aren’t as curious anymore and are comfortable enough to relax around you. 

So, they’ll find something that is interesting to them until you do something that is again.

They might be annoyed that you didn’t give them what they wanted. 

Maybe it was attention, treats, catnip. You get the idea.

This is understandable. You’d probably be a little annoyed too if you wanted something and had to rely on someone else to get it for you, but they weren’t. 

But it usually won’t hurt them to wait. As long as you’re not ignoring them all day… unless there’s a very good reason! 

It Would Be Weird or A Red Flag if They Didn’t

If your cat is new to your household, it makes sense that they’re nervous and don’t trust you right away.

If your cat has been in your home for a while and still doesn’t feel comfortable turning their back on you, I would be concerned.

Do you have small kids in your home that like to sneak up on or grab the cat from behind? 

Do you have a dog or other cat in the house that bullies this cat? 

I used to have two cats. One just passed away in the Fall. She used to bully our other cat.

I fixed this by putting her in a few minute time out each time she would bully our other cat and giving them separate food dishes. 

She quickly learned she didn’t need to “compete” anymore or show him who’s boss cat. She used to be a stray, so this behavior was actually not surprising and she was actually a really sweet, loving cat. 

If none of these are applicable, some cats do have a more nervous disposition, so it just might take them longer to get comfortable.

It’s Just One of The Ways of Communicating

You’ve probably gathered this by now, but this can be their way of communicating a few things, such as trust, annoyance, disinterest.

Or it could simply be just because they need to go do something, like use the litter box, eat or nap.

When you spend enough time around cats, you start picking up their body language and since they’re an intelligent animal, they learn how to communicate with us. 

Cats clearly don’t communicate the same way we do, but with patience and understanding we can learn to pick up on what our furry friend is telling us they need and want. 

Usually it’s what we need too. Food, affection and sleep. 

So, take it as a compliment the next time your cat turns their back on you. It means that they feel comfortable and safe around you and trust you and their environment. 

And well done for having a relaxed, content cat. You’re doing something right.

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