Why Do Cats Hate Being Flipped Off?

Why Do Cats Hate Being Flipped Off?

Cats are affectionate animals with their individual quirks and personalities.  At least five personality types have been identified by cat experts, including neurotic, dominant, extraverted, impulsive and agreeable. Felines hate certain smells, and they express their like or dislike for common human behaviors through body language and vocalizations. 

Why do cats hate being flipped off?

Cats may not necessarily hate being flipped off, as they are not aware of what the hand signal means in human lingo. They may, however, be reacting to the movement of your fingers. For cats, any slight movement of the fingers toward them will cause them to back off. They think you are trying to attack or grab them, and may feel threatened by such action.

When people show the middle finger, their arm usually shoots out in the direction of the targeted person – or cat. This gesture can be a warning for cats to back off or attack. Felines are predators that use speed and quick movement, and they may either mimic the strategy or react from memory. 

Nevertheless, cats tend to associate this hand signal with the emotions that accompany it. Humans use the middle finger when they are frustrated or angry, and cats may learn to associate the flip-off with these human emotions. 

Human behaviors that cats hate

Forcing your cat to interact socially

Cats interact with people on their terms. They are independent and should be allowed to hide and avoid people if they feel stressed.  They should be permitted to move vertically and, if not given the option, will tend to react negatively, especially when there are strangers in the house or in the presence of loud noises. 

Some people misunderstand why a cat is hiding, and they force the cat out to deal with the situation that is causing the stress. This is not a good way to gain their trust. 

Because they like climbing, they should be provided with cat trees and carpeted shelves. Having spaces of their own reduces stress and provides enrichment for felines. 

Holding them too tightly or petting them too much 

Most cats do not like to be hugged, but some people will hug them despite their efforts to free themselves from your arms. Many cats also do not like tummy rubs, even if they may be rolling over and exposing their stomachs. Rubbing their tummies can make cats feel vulnerable and could lead to aggressive behavior. 

As a responsible pet owner, you should get to know your cat and assess which behaviors are acceptable to her, and how she reacts if she has had enough. 

Treating a cat like a small dog 

Cats hate being treated like they are miniature dogs. Canines are curious, active, playful and sociable animals, while felines are famous for their nonchalance, although some are affectionate and playful. They are two different species, so the approach to each should be different.  Do not expect cats to do what dogs normally do. 

Punishing cats for behaving normally

Cats become wary of you if you squirt them with water and are unlikely to stop doing whatever it is that you dislike. They would appreciate you more if they were provided with stimulation to meet their needs. Rewarding them for good behavior rather than punishing them will make them react more favorably.

Treating cats like kids

Cats in clothes or costumes look cute, but dressing them like kids may not be enjoyable for them. Some cat owners insist on dressing up their pets, but it would be better if you could observe your cat’s body language to know whether or not it approves.

Not giving them enough attention  

Cats are very independent animals, but they also crave your affection and attention. Respond to your cat’s affection by cuddling and petting her if she comes and sits on your lap. If you are going to be away for a vacation or work, have someone stay with her so that she won’t be lonely. 

Rubbing their tummies 

Most cats hate belly or tummy rubs. Their stomach area is a vulnerable spot and it is an instinctive reaction for them to protect it,since this is where the vital organs are. An unprompted belly rub could make your cat lash out at you. Pet your cat behind her ears or under the chin to be safe. 


To ‘flip off’ is to hold up the middle finger as an obscene gesture of contempt. Cats are said to hate being flipped off, but this is a topic of debate. They do not hate the gesture per se, since they do not have any idea of what it means. Rather, they may be reacting to the movement of the fingers, since any sudden movement causes them to back off and they think you are trying to attack them.

Image: istockphoto.com / struvictory