cat running away

Was that a bird? Or a plane? Or just your cat flying across your living room? Cats have a habit of being stealthy and nimble, but it can feel pretty yucky when your cat runs away every time you approach. 

Is it Fear?

Just like humans, it is only natural that your cat would want to run from something scary or unpleasant.  Cats may dart away if something is frightening or surprising, such as a loud voice or quick, unexpected movements.

When a cat runs away from you consistently, they may also be associating you with something unpleasant. If every time you catch your kitty you are medicating, bathing, picking them up, or doing anything else your cat does not like, it is only natural for them to try to escape.        

Play Behavior

Cats are pretty playful critters, and sometimes running away may be a sign of engaging play. Your cat is most likely to be playing if they:

  • Only run away sometimes
  • Run away then come back to see your reaction
  • Have playful body language such as a crooked tail, sideways stance, and erect, pushed-forward whiskers
  • Are incorporating attack behavior into the retreat

When Your Cat Runs Away All the Time

While there may be some very good reasons your cat runs away from you, most of us would prefer that our feline friends be, well, friendly. Is it possible to teach your cat not to run away from you? While cats are going to be cats to a certain extent, King’s Trail Animal Hospital does have some helpful hints to help teach your pet that they need not run away from you:

  • Think like a cat – Cats don’t typically like anything loud or fast. When your cat is around, take heed to speak softly and move smoothly and deliberately to avoid startling him or her. Doing this will help your cat to become more accustomed to you and build confidence. 
  • Make a positive association – Sometimes we must do things like brush or medicate our cats that they do not like. Be sure that you are creating lots of positive interactions when you approach, though, to remind them that you are not all bad. Offer a snuggle if your cat likes that or a special toy or treat sometimes to balance the unpleasant interactions.
  • Be patient – Don’t push things too quickly. If your cat is very nervous about you approaching, you may have to settle for merely getting within a few feet and stopping. As your cat learns to tolerate your presence more, you will be able to get closer. Don’t try to touch until kitty is consistently okay with you being within petting range.
  • Satisfy the urge to play – It can be hard to fulfill your cat’s need for playtime, but unless you do, your cat is likely to try to engage you in chasing behavior a lot more. Provide structured play time every day, but also be sure to give your kitty plenty of outlets to engage in themselves. Ball and track toys, spring toys, and kicking stands are great tools for cats to play on their own when the urge arises. 

If your cat runs away from you, it is likely that you aren’t doing anything wrong. Rather, you likely just need a better understanding of feline behavior so that you and your cat can better enjoy each other’s company. Most cats can learn that a human approaching them isn’t a bad thing. You may even get a snuggly buddy out of the deal.
If your cat is having sudden behavioral changes and hiding more than normal, it is time to come see us at King’s Trail Animal Hospital to be sure that there are no medical reasons for the new behavior.