Cats have a reputation for being aloof, standoffish, and being solitary, but as most cat owners can attest, this reputation isn’t exactly founded in truth.
But if your cat suddenly wants to be alone, you may be wondering what’s going through its head.
The answer is any number of things, from health problems to being overstimulated to being pregnant! So you really have to take into consideration the entire picture around your animal to determine whether it’s something to worry about, or not.
Yes, cats are more standoffish than dogs (in general), but they are also very attention-seeking when they want to be, they have a definite preference for a routine where all their humans are doing what they are supposed to be doing, and they often bond with one or two people. (Or everyone, in the case of my new young cat who loved everyone at first sight… except the toddler…).
Most people have stories of their cats cuddling, demanding attention, and generally being a lot needier than their reputation states! Therefore, when a cat suddenly wants to be alone, many people either panic or assume that their cat is acting like a stereotypical cat act.
My Cat Is Healthy and Suddenly Wants to be Alone. What Gives?
There are several reasons, all of them benign, for a cat to decide to do its own thing.
First of all, age. Young cats (about nine months of age or so) are hitting the ‘teenage’ years and so may simply not be as affectionate as they were when they were kittens.
They are simply growing up and exploring their independence, as well as settling into their adult personality, which may be more withdrawn and solitary than when they were kittens.
As cats hit adulthood, they also discover more places to hang out and sleep, new lairs to take over in the house, and get distracted by other things. They also tend to start showing their love for you in other ways, so watch for that!
Second, a change in routine or a new person in the house can fling cats into a ‘sulk’, much like children or teenagers do when they perceive things aren’t going their way. (My Siamese would fling herself into terrific sulks when she was unhappy with the house and she’d only visit me – and even then, she wasn’t happy).
This rarely lasts very long since it’s basically the equivalent of a temper tantrum in toddlers. Cats can also hide when there are visitors to your home, and they may not bother coming out until long after the visitors are gone.
Cats may also hide and want to be alone if there’s any sort of major change around the house, such as renovations, moving, a new baby, new pet, or new people (or really anything new).
Cats do not like it when their routine is disturbed and when it is, many of them will hide and want to be alone to work through the changes. It’s a rare cat that wants to be in the thick of things.
Finally, some cats just need some space to relax, center themselves, and wind down, particularly after playing, traveling, going to the vet, or being petted. Cats can get overstimulated quite quickly and when this happens, it’s best to respect their need to be alone for a while.
Health Reasons for Your Cat Wanting to be Alone
A common reason why cats will suddenly hide away is that they aren’t feeling well. Cats don’t ‘tell’ us when they are sick or injured and in fact, will go to great lengths to hide it.
This is an evolutionary trait from living out in the wild where an injured or sick cat would quickly become a dead cat if they didn’t take care to retreat and hide. This carries over to indoor living, where a cat who isn’t feeling well or is injured will ‘retreat’ to a lair and not come out much.
My old cat, for example, had a urinary tract infection a few months ago (She’s fine now if you’re worried). For about a week, she hid out under my son’s bed and only came out to use the litter box, drink a bit of water, and lick up a bit of food.
We were worried sick about her, but after a week, she recovered just fine and went back to eating and drinking, and using the litter box like normal. But for that week, she definitely hid, and it wasn’t because she suddenly hated it, it was because she was feeling unwell and that’s what her instincts told her to do.
If your cat is hiding a lot and you’re noticing problems like litter box foul odors (or blood), lack of appetite, vomiting, or excessive diarrhea, it’s probably time for a call to the vet.
Your cat won’t like getting pulled out of its hidey-hole, and it will like the vet even less of course, but you want to make sure you get your cat the medical help it may require.
Finally, pregnant cats often hideaway just before it’s time to give birth and they probably don’t want you around for the event.
Again, it’s instinct as cats in labor are vulnerable and they will want to hide somewhere warm, dark, and quiet to give birth and make sure their kittens are safe. This is perfectly normal behavior, but if you’re worried about your cat giving birth, you should try to monitor her in case of an emergency.
And sadly, when a cat has reached the end of its life, it’s far more likely to be aloof, hidden, and not want to hang around you anymore.
This is often because they are in pain, and so getting petted can hurt, or simply because they are isolating themselves for the same reason many humans do: they don’t want to be around others while dying.
If you have a particularly old cat who has been showing signs of fading, this could simply mean that they are passing away.
There are plenty of reasons why a cat is suddenly not wanting to hang around you anymore, ranging from perfectly benign to medical emergencies.
If you are worried about your pet’s aloofness, talk to your vet; otherwise, it could simply be a phase your cat is going through and it will come back around later on.
Does your cat hang around you all the time or does it go through periods of wanting to be alone?