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Why won’t my cat listen to me?

I have enjoyed being a cat parent for over 40 years and being a nurse for many of those years. My medical background helped me to identify problematic health conditions in the fur babies I cared for over the years.

The one interesting thing I discovered early in my cat rescue and care years was that cats run an uncanny parallel with human babies, children, and adults.

If you ever want to understand your kitten or adult cat, use them as a comparison against what a child or an adult would do.

  • Cats and humans suffer from many of the same diseases and illnesses.
  • Cats and humans may take many of the same medications to treat these illnesses.
  • Kittens, babies, and younger children often act in the same manner.
  • Adult cats often act much like adult humans.
  • Husbands and children rarely listen to mom. Can you expect more from your cat?
  • No one is purr-fect; cats, kids, or adult humans.

Why Won’t My Cat Listen To Me? 

I believe cats listen to you unless they are hard of hearing. Cats also do as they please, like some children and adults I know. I have had two cats with a hearing deficit, so they could not hear or come when I called their names.

Lil’ Luke is the only cat out of our six cats who persists in jumping our privacy fence.

Luke has his routine, and I cannot break him from this routine. We tried everything, and the best we could come up with was the following.

  • He goes to the back door every morning at about 7 am and whines to go out. I look at him and say, “Luke! No Jump Fence, Stay In Your Yard!

Luke goes out the door, looks back at me, and jumps up on the top of the fence.

As he is perched on the top, he looks at me intently with his big green eyes and, waving goodbye with his paw, jumps over. So much for that training session.

This morning it took Luke five minutes to jump the chain link fence next door and chase another cat or bunny, hissing, and growling. I yelled at him, and he took off somewhere around the neighbor’s house.

Just as I got my shoes on, there he was on our front steps. I opened the door and he came in as though a lightning bolt had hit him in the butt.

I believe he always knows when he has been naughty, but I don’t believe Luke cares. Luke does what he wants regardless, then he beats it home and comes in without a fuss, unusual for Lil’ Luke unless he has been naughty. Lil’ Luke knows.

  • Luke then eats breakfast.
  • He goes to the back door again, but this time he curls up in his lawn chair and naps.

I believe Lil’ Luke knows what I say to him, and he certainly knows his name, because when I call him, he comes (if he is not busy!) I know cats listen, but they do as they want, and few can change this trait in a cat because they are so naturally independent.

Toyko’s University Study of Cat Behavior

According to this study, it is found that cats do ignore their parents. Researchers found that when cats were spoken to, they saw,

  • Cats’ eyes react
  • Ear tips twitch
  • Tails start to swing
  • Looked around
  • Would not react to a stranger’s voice
  • Reacted to their parents’ voice
  • The cats would not go to where the parents were calling, totally ignoring their parent’s voices.

Cats are highly independent and do not require the social interactions dogs crave. Some feel that there are other reasons why your cat will not listen to you.

  • Cats crave time alone.
  • Cats carry a ‘tude’ (attitude).
  • Cats have their own specific moods.
  • Cats ignore you because they are doing more important things.
  • If a cat wants your affection, it will come to you.
  • An older cat can have hearing difficulties.
  • A cat decides if it wants to pay attention to you.
  • Is your cat scared of coming to you?
  • Perhaps your cat is bored and is finding something more interesting.

If you have swatted your kitty, punished, or yelled at your kitty, it may be scared to come to you and see you as a threat. Cats are always on high alert should your intentions be good or bad. Researchers say that cats can remember what you do to them.

  • Cats never forget if you spray them with water or shoo them away.
  • Cats have a fragile emotional makeup.
  • Cats can snub you because of something you did.
  • Your cat lets you know how they feel in the best way possible.

If your cat’s behavior takes a sudden turn, you may have to do an investigation as to why this is happening.

  • Is there a new addition to the family, a baby, a new pet, or a new house?
  • Did you change your routine?
  • Had you accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail or tripped over your cat?
  • Sometimes cats do not listen to what you say because they are not feeling well. Always be on the alert that your cat is ill.

You must seek the vet for signs such as not eating, drinking, or being lethargic. As cats age, they can develop dementia, much like humans. Cats are pros at hiding an illness until they are really ill.

Is It Normal For Cats Not To Listen To You? 

Cats always listen to you, depending on their mood and if and when they respond. Something they are doing may be more important than answering your call.

I have heard cat owners say, “You cannot train a cat because they will not listen to your commands.” You can train a cat, although training a cat is more challenging than training a dog. You must take the time and patience to get your cat to listen to you.

For example, when my Lil’ Luke is inside, I will randomly say, “Lil’ Luke, Lil’ Luke.” I did this a lot when he was a kitten. He knows his name, as do my other five cats.

Most cat parents, me included, have to agree that cats understand, but can choose to completely ignore you.

  • Sometimes it helps if you provide unique exercise and stimulation.
  • Give your cat praise for being good.
  • Soft, soothing, gentle words and head pats go a long way.
  • Cat treats and catnip help.

Can You Train Cats To Listen To You? 

I believe the most essential first step in training a cat is to make sure they know their name. Throughout the day and evening, I call each cat by name for one thing or another.

You know when a cat knows its name and when it responds. Every cat parent seems to have a different way of training their cat. The following are what many other cat parents and I found that work as follows.

  • Be consistent.
  • Give your kitty praise.
  • Show lots of affection.
  • Keep training sessions short; cats have short attention spans.
  • Never yell.
  • Never show you are upset.
  • Keep commands at one or two words, such as “No!” or “Come!”

If my cats do not respond to “No!”, I clap my hands once, which seems to get their attention.

  • Provide treats, a new toy, or praise for good behavior.
  • Provide their favorite dry or moist food.