Why your Cat Might be Grumpy

Posted on
February 6, 2019

Experts say that cats get their hostile reputation from the way they have evolved. Animal researcher Dr. John Bradshaw says their evolutionary journey from predator to house pet is not quite finished. Cats aren’t social, domesticated animals quite yet, which is why their killer looks and tendency to act grumpy can be confusing to their owners.

However, cats are very loving creatures, and there usually is a reason why your cat is acting strange, including:

  • Illness and Discomfort
  • A Change in Routine
  • Boredom

Aside from these less obvious causes, there are ways you can interpret what your cat is trying to tell you, since it feels like your cat can read your mind. Pay attention to these, and be mindful of the things that could make your cat act strange. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your vet to see what you can do to help and prevent these problems from happening.

Pain from Illness

Illness-related discomfort can put your feline in a bad mood, just like it happens to you. If your cat seems lethargic and uninterested, they could be coming down with something. Here are some common cat illnesses to look out for:

  • Diabetes
  • FIV
  • Heartworm


It is not yet known what causes diabetes in cats, but it can be really uncomfortable for your pet. An official diagnosis comes from a vet, but some warning signs include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Urinating outside of the litter box
  • Lethargy
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Extra thirst

If your vet diagnoses your cat with diabetes, they will tell you how to treat him or her. Care for a diabetic cat usually includes regular insulin injections and keeping sugar levels in check.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Symptoms for FIV may take years to show up, and can be present between periods of general health. Some signs of FIV to look out for include:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye inflammation
  • Sneezing
  • Wounds that don’t heal

While single occurrences of these symptoms are usually not a big deal, it’s important to take your cat to the vet if you see these happening together.

Your cat can get FIV if another cat bites her and leaves a deep wound. Male outdoor cats are the most susceptible. FIV Is not spread through basic contact, such as playful grooming or sharing bowls.

There is an FIV vaccination, and test your cat for the virus if she was recently adopted. FIV can be diagnosed through a blood test, and it is important that you know your cat’s FIV status.

If your cat is infected, try to keep her indoors as much as possible. Make sure she keeps a healthy diet, and take her to the vet at least twice a year.


Your cat is not an ideal home for the heartworm parasite, so it’s less likely that she will come down with this condition. It’s still important to look out for symptoms—especially if you have a kitten or elderly cat, and/or you live in an area with a lot of mosquitoes, which spread the parasite. Some symptoms to look for include:

  • Cough
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Weight loss

Respiratory problems are the first sign of a heartworm infection, since the parasite is just beginning to settle in your cat’s heart and lungs. If your vet said respiratory problems were caused by asthma or bronchitis in your cat, and then these other symptoms pop up, make sure to go back so your vet can double check.

If crankiness in your cat is accompanied by symptoms of any of these conditions, it’s crucial to head to the vet to find the cause.

Orange cat has her head down in her paws
A change in your schedule can really bum your cat out—show her you still care with extra play and affection.

Change in Routine

Your life and schedule change all the time, and so does your cat’s by result. While it’s easy to focus on your own life to better respond to the change, it’s important you make sure your cat is hanging in there with you. Your cat’s bad mood can be caused by the following changes.

Unfamiliar Company

If you were ever jealous of all the attention your new sibling got when he or she was first born, it’s likely your cat will feel the same way if someone else is getting all of the attention. Whether it be a new dog or kitten, try to let your cat know that she is still loved equally.

For a new cat especially, try the best you can to make sure the cats don’t fight each other. If you suspect a fight, try distracting your cat with a feather toy. If they do end up fighting, make sure you separate them as soon as you can.

Similarly, the addition of a new person or people into the household, however temporary or permanent, can make your cat defensive and hostile. It’s likely your cat will warm up to your houseguest, just give her time.

Your cat can sense if your visitor is uncomfortable, making your cat more likely to mirror that anxiety. Ensure your guest that your cat is a sweetheart, and that she just takes some time to get used to new faces. If you want to speed up the process, give the visitor a treat to give your cat, making sure your cat knows it came from the guest, and there’s no reason for either one to feel threatened by the other.


While this one might seem obvious, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress moving involves. Cats aren’t fond of change to begin with, since they can see a new place as potentially threatening.

Try to keep your cat away from all of the boxes and chaos as best as you can so she doesn’t become increasingly upset as she begins to realize the move is permanent. Keep your cat in a room that smells like your old place, filled with familiar toys and other household items. Just as important stability is for you, it’s also important for your cat.

Change in Schedule

As tiring as it can be for you to adjust to a schedule change of some kind, your cat can easily be affected by your change as well. You are the one responsible for her schedule—playtime, feeding time—especially if you are the only owner. If this is the case, give your cat some time to get used to the new schedule, but there are some things you can do to help in the meantime.

Most importantly, try your best to ease your cat through the transition, and give her extra attention and love. Cats like to be in control of their territory, so let your cat think she is in charge despite a change in your schedule.

Woman bent down to pet cat that's walking away
Don't forget, cats are naturally born hunters!


Just like humans get restless, so does your cat. Not giving your cat enough attention or stimulation can be a cause for discontent.

Suppressed Hunting Instinct

The reason cats as a species aren’t fully domesticated yet is because their evolutionary journey is not finished. Like their ancestors, cats are natural hunters.

When you bring your cat inside, she can’t satisfy the innate urge she has to paw at something. Some cats adjust to this change by increasing sleep time, but other cats might begin acting out inside because they feel like they need to hunt. If this is the case, and you are willing, you can create a hunt for your cat indoors by releasing mice.

Old Toys

Keep the new toys coming! Cats love to be kept busy, which largely comes from toys—since you can’t be there playing with her all the time. Change the toys your cat has access to every few days, keeping the rest of them somewhere your cat can’t access.

It is recommended that you play with your cat in short, intense intervals as often as you can. Cats get tired pretty easily, but it’s essential to give your cat something enriching to do to pass the time. Play is the best way for a cat to relieve stress, so making sure your cat is busy can help some of the problems mentioned earlier.


If you’re reading this article, it’s a good sign that you care about your cat’s wellbeing. But the reason your cat is grumpy may be that she feels like you’re not spending enough time with her.

Playing with your cat is an easy way for her to understand that you care about her. When putting your cat in a domestic environment, it’s important to keep her entertained so she doesn’t feel neglected.

Since you can’t spend all day playing with your cat, make sure she has enough toys to use at home while you’re gone.

Cat with eyes closed being pet
Cats have bad moods too—so try to be considerate.

Try to understand what could be making your cat antisocial to figure out the best solution to the problem.

If your cat is acting up out of the blue, there’s usually a reason for it. Make sure your cat’s needs are met to ensure happiness. But if none of these causes seem to be the reason for your cat’s discontent, head to the vet to find out what is causing the grumpy attitude.

What else has been the reason for your cat’s hostility in the past? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted on
February 6, 2019