Cat, You Mad?

When your cat makes eye contact while going outside the litterbox, you might think it's out of revenge. You'd be (a little) right.

By Janiss Garza | Posted: February 24, 2014, 3 p.m. EST

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Mad Cat
Sparkle shows her disapproval in facial expressions. 
Mad Cat
Mad cats, like Sparkle and Binga sometimes, can express their consternation in scent marking. If you see your cat going outside the litterbox in what looks like a revenge move, your cat might simply be marking her property because she feels threatened. 
A friend of mine has been having a problem recently with her normally sweet and good-natured cat. Occasionally this friend spends the night at her boyfriend's house, and when she returns home, her kitty sits right next to – not in – the litterbox, stares my friend in the eye, and pees. Frustrated by her cat's behavior, she posted about it on Facebook, and got a variety of suggestions about what was wrong, most of them along the lines of the cat being "mad" at my friend. Reading all these comments frankly made me a little mad because even if the kitty's problem is behavioral, and not medical (yes, she is going to a vet for a checkup), anger has nothing to do it with.

Hear all about litterbox behavior and health >>

People like to assume that cats get mad and act out passive-aggressively, but they are reading their actions the wrong way. Cats are really pretty direct. If a cat is mad at another cat, she whaps her. When a cat feels her personal space or property is being compromised, she does the most logical thing (to a cat) – she marks it in a way that leaves no doubt as to whom the property belongs. Often that involves peeing or scratching. Any cat can smell what that means! Unfortunately, the cat does not realize that humans don't understand the feline language of speaking in scents.

Find out more about cat scent marking >>

When cats act out in the way my friend's cat did, it's not really anger. The cat believes her resources are somehow being reduced or taken away, and she is trying to hang onto what she considers rightfully hers in the only way she knows how. One of the reasons my friend was so puzzled was that she felt that her cat had everything she could possibly want, and more – a big house, a feline companion whose company she enjoys, a human who works at home and plays daily with her, all the food she wants and a frequently scooped litterbox. She did not see how her cat's resources were being taken away by her occasional visits with her boyfriend. But eventually, more was revealed. For several months, my friend has been renting out part of her house several times a month through an online service. Having a different visitors coming and going unexpectedly would definitely make a cat feel insecure, and my friend's overnights away from home have probably added to her stress.

Meet Sparkle the Designer Cat >>

Insecure? Stressed out? Territorial? Possibly ill with a urinary tract infection? Any of those may certainly apply to my friend's cat. Mad? Not so much. If she were mad, she would have just given my pal a swift whap to the ankle.
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Cat, You Mad?

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Reader Comments

Vanessa    Sacramento, CA

2/26/2014 10:48:30 PM

If I tell my cats no to something...or don't let them do what they want...they wet either by the door or on my bed...even with a clean litter box

lisa    cottonwood, CA

2/26/2014 7:11:15 PM

About every 5 days my cat pees out side his box on the carper. i have to now keep puppy pad under and around the box to try to save my carpet such ad it is now. why do you think he is doing this. i had him to the vet but they wanted to do some testing that i cant afford.

catherine    peekskill, NY

2/26/2014 3:55:28 PM

For the past 6 PR 7 months or so my cat jumps on EVERYTHING!!! I CANT SIT DOWN WITHOUT HIM JUMPING ON MY SHOULDER.He gets so mad when I put him down. I thought he wanted food, water and I check his litter box to make sure its clean and he still does it. He's 14 and very verbal and mean but loves me. He scares me half to death BC he gets a running start from where he is and just pounces, aiming for my shoulder and he lays across like a baby and talks....a lot. Its making me crazy and making my shoulder extremely sore. What is going on???!!!!!

Ashley    Indianapolis, IN

2/26/2014 3:47:23 PM

When we had to be away for 5 days, I was worried about our newly rescued 4 year old, Thursday. Up until that time, if anyone came into the house, she would hide under our bed and not come out until the intruder was gone.

I had a friend sleep over while we were gone. She is a chiropractor and has a healing personality. I told her not to look at Thursday; when and how to feed her and snacks that she likes. After a short while, THursday checked her out and eventually made friends. Thursday likes to eat a certain way. It makes her feel secure. So when she was fed exactly as she likes, she warmed up and become more secure.

Also --take this or leave it--we were away to work with the Croatian Healer, Braco. We brought Thursday's photo and visualized her getting on with our friend and feeling secure that we'd return.

When we came home , Thursday was a different and more secure cat.

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