Have you ever experienced being attacked by your pet cat without any warning at all? Do you find it unnerving when your pet suddenly lunges at you when just a moment ago you were just playing with her or cuddling her? Then you’re not alone.
Most pet parents have encountered this at least a few times. While this may seem alarming, the problem can be easily addressed once the underlying reason has been identified. The reason why your cat attacks you, and no one else may be that your cat has detected another animal’s scent from you, she may be trying to catch your attention or it could be aggression induced by territorial behavior, petting, noise or pain. You’re also an easy target because you’re usually her constant companion.
Aside from these, there are at least a couple of other reasons why your cat attacks you and no one else. Let’s learn more about this unusual cat behavior through a detailed discussion.
What causes a pet cat to attack you and no one else
The causes why your feline attacks you may be a combination of one or two reasons or it could be more diverse than that. Here are the commonly identified reasons why your pet would suddenly attack you and no one else.
1. Your cat may experience fear or anxiety upon detecting unfamiliar odors on you.
Cats are very particular with scents and just a whiff of an unfamiliar scent on their pet parents could trigger anxiety and fear which makes them aggressive, attacking the source of that particular smell, which is you. Your cat may become vicious especially if it’s a scent of an unfamiliar cat or any other animal that you may have touched or come in contact with.
Other strong scents that could trigger cats to go amock are strong perfume, a particular food, and paint or other building materials. Hostile behavior due to fear may result in an attack especially when they fail to have an escape plan, even when in actuality, there’s really no need to escape from any present danger. Manifestations of fear-induced aggression may include hissing, spitting, scratching, swatting, and growling.
2. It could be due to territorial induced aggression.
Even though cats are already domesticated they retain a part of their natural instinct as predators and the tendency to protect their marked territory. Any threats could lead to a so-called territorial induced aggression and your pet cat may even regard you as one, thus, the tendency to pounce, attack, or chase you and no one else.
3. Your pet may just want to play with you and seeks your attention.
Sometimes, your pet cat may attack you mainly for the sole purpose of indulging you as her playmate. This is usually characterized by stalking the target, which is you, and then leaping or pouncing into its target with no warning growls or hiss. In other instances, your cat may hide behind furniture and then will attack you usually through your ankles. It’s also worth noting that aggressive and vigorous play may seem like normal behavior for cats when, in fact, in your point of view, it’s already a serious case of cat attack!
4. It could be redirected aggression.
This type of feline hostility is considered as the most dangerous and unpredictable one because you’ll never know when it shall occur. But more often than not, it’s usually because of an external stimulus. For instance, your pet cat spotted outdoor cats in your front yard or she may have noticed some squirrels on a tree. She starts to become agitated by these animals, considered as the external stimulus, but then she becomes frustrated because she’s indoors so she looks for something or someone else to lash out her anger, to redirect her agitation. More often than not, it’s you that becomes the subject of her anger, thus, resulting in a cat attack.
5. It may be a case of petting-induced aggression.
Cats normally love petting but there are times when it can be too much for them. They will usually send out warning signs that they’ve had enough of the repetitive petting by hissing, nibbling, or biting your hand. If you notice this, it’s best to stop petting her at once before she’ll launch a more vicious move.
6. It may be noise-induced aggression.
Another probable reason why your cat may suddenly attack you is due to noise around her. Cats usually respond to loud sound frequencies with aggression and this may be another cat crying or howling, a crying baby, and high-frequency squeaking sounds. An explanation of this behavior may be the manifestation of predatory behavior through high-frequency sounds. Also, it could be due to becoming surprised or being caught off-guard because of the sudden noises that could trigger a cat to attack you.
7. It may be due to pain-induced aggression.
Sometimes, your pet cat may be utterly aggressive because she’s not feeling well deep inside. A cat experiencing chronic pain such as arthritis can be very irritable and aggressive. Also, she may be experiencing discomfort due to a painful procedure and slight nuisances could trigger an attack from your cat.
Signs of aggression to look out for
If you suddenly notice this type of body language on your pet cat then beware and try to keep a safe distance while you still can:
- if your pet directly stares and steps forward
- if her tail is directed straight down and not curved downward
- if the cat’s stance is in a confronting manner, instead of slinking or leaning in an opposite direction
- if your cat is growling and hissing
- if her ears are pointing in an upright manner with the back rotated slightly forward
- when your pet’s fur is standing up with raised hairs on the shoulders, back, and tail also commonly called piloerection
What to do when your cat attacks you
In some instances, your pet cat may attack or bite you but can be easily pacified by a verbal reprimand. However, if the attack was rather deliberate and took quite a while before your pet was subdued then it could be a sign of something more serious. Here are some of the things that you can do should your cat attack you:
Consult your vet right away.
Should your cat attack you be sure to consult your veterinarian right away. Your vet has the expertise to identify the probable causes and triggers of your pet’s aggression. He may also have to assess if your cat may be having a medical problem by doing some laboratory tests on your cat. Your vet may recommend a cat behaviorist, prescribe certain medication, or may formulate a diet plan for your pet, for whatever may deem necessary and applicable.
Keep your cool and be patient.
At some point, you need to accept the truth that your furry baby may tend to become unpredictable and aggressive. This may frustrate and even make you feel desolate especially if you’re so used to having an affectionate and cuddly pet cat around you. However, the best thing that you can do is to be calm and be sensible. Don’t harbor bad feelings toward your pet and avoid punishing her as it may further put a strain on your relationship. Stay in control and be patient, in no time at all your pet cat will be back to her normal elements, soon as the cause and triggers are properly identified and corrected.
Be extra cautious and watch out for signs and clues.
Having a clear understanding and awareness of the possible causes of your cat’s unlikely behavior can help a lot to resolve the problem promptly. You have to be cautious and should also protect yourself should your pet manifest warning signs again in the future. Watch out for signs and clues like the probable triggers of the aggression. Observe your pet cat’s body language and learn to familiarize her usual behavior. By having a clear understanding of your pet and her innate behavior, you can easily pinpoint should there be any mood changes and in turn will serve as some kind of early warning signals.
Other preventive measures you can do to avoid cat attacks
Aside from seeking professional help through your vet and gaining a clear understanding and knowledge of the causes and triggers for your cat’s aggression, here are other measures that you can do to stop your cat from attacking you.
Have regular and interactive play sessions with your pet cat.
Always put aside at least 10 minutes of your time each day to engage and play with your cat. You could schedule a minimum of at least two sessions of this 10-minute interactive playtime with your pet daily. The more you spend playtime with her, the more unlikely that she’ll attack or bite you as she becomes increasingly familiar to your presence. Examples of interactive toys that you can play with your pet include stuffed animal toys and pole-type toys or toys that dangle from sticks.
Give your furry pet lots of environmental stimulation.
A busy cat will most likely not have enough energy left to mount attacks. Provide your pet with environmental stimulation to keep her occupied and mentally challenged as well. Some of the things that you can install include cat perches, climbing posts, and empty cardboard boxes. Puzzle feeders pique her interest and keep her mentally stimulated as well. If your pet loves the outdoors, you can have outdoor enclosures installed so she can safely venture and explore outside your home.
Place a deterrent device in her stalking spots.
If you’ve observed that she suddenly attacks you from a particular stalking spot then the best thing to do is to place a deterrent device in that specific area. This device could be an upside-down mousetrap or a motion-activated device that sprays compressed air. These devices can startle your cat but will not injure her and will deter and stop her from lurking in those stalking spots.
Stop her from attacking your ankles.
If your pet cat tends to attack your ankles which is an easy target don’t try to pull or run away as this resembles prey behavior and will encourage your cat to bite harder. Instead, stand your ground and gently push toward her. This will make your cat realize that you’re not acting like prey and will likely let go. Once she lets go, remain still for a few moments and don’t pay her any attention. This will eventually stop her because so to speak, you have taken away the “thrill of the catch”.
If your cat is playing with you roughly give her a time-out.
If at any point during your playtime session with your pet she starts playing roughly and resorts to biting and scratching you, give her a time-out, and leave the room without paying her any attention. Since cats avoid doing things that may have negative outcomes, taking the fun from playtime by walking away will teach your pet not to play roughly. Make sure to walk away and leave the room instead of picking her up and moving her to another area of your home as your pet may interpret the physical contact as a form of reward which should not be the case since rough play should never be rewarded.
Reward her if she manifests good behavior.
Cats are inquisitive and smart pets and will repeat behavior that has positive consequences. Give her a reward like food treats each time that she’s doing the right thing and behaving well like playing gently with you and snuggling instead of manifesting aggressive behavior like biting and scratching you. Giving her positive reinforcement for her good behavior allows your cat to form an association between her behavior and reward.
Keep a record of her attacks.
Keeping track of each time she manifests aggressive behavior will give you a clear understanding of the situations and times when these attacks most likely occur. Does she usually attack your ankles in the morning or during mid-day? Does she tend to bite and scratch you during your playtime sessions? Identifying a particular cycle or pattern will help you do some pre-planning and be able to prevent future attacks by distracting her with toys and redirecting her attention.
You are the easiest type of target for your pet cat when she displays aggression because you\re her constant companion. Your easy access to her and your tendency to easily fuss over her when she starts acting weird makes you more prone to be attacked and no one else. Should your pet attack you, it’s always best to consult your vet, especially if it happens more than once. Keep your cool, never punish your pet, and gain a good understanding of your cat’s body language and behavior.