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Why is my cat aggressive?

Charlie ShortTail1273 views

Why does my cat bite me and behave aggressively?

There are so many different reasons why your cat may be behaving in an aggressive way – hissing, biting, growling or swiping and scratching.

It is important to understand why your cat is behaving in this way – it could be that your cat is in pain, or is fearful of something, it could be stress  – caused by changes to his or her environment or routine. Sometimes a change in behaviour can be due to changes to the family set up – a new person in the home or an additional new pet. Alternatively, it could be that your cat does not like something, such as being picked up or petted for a long time. In play, a cat can become easily overstimulated resulting in aggressive type behaviour.

If you try to understand why your cat is displaying aggressive behaviour then you can try to solve the problem and both you and your cat will be happier.

11 reasons why your cat may be aggressive:

Fear – your cat may be frightened (you can recognise fear by observing if the ears are held back, if the pupils are dilated, the body may be crouched with the tail tucked underneath).


Pain – your cat may be in pain (liver or kidney disorders, hormonal problems, arthritis, dental decay, abscesses, bite wounds, infections and high blood pressure can all be medical causes of aggressive behaviour).

Older cats especially can be in pain and will mask any problems quite well, you may just think they are slowing down.

Urinary infections are common in cats and this will be very painful for your cat.

egyptian mau cat

Possessive – of food or toys or even of a family member.

cat playing with toy mouse

Territorial – cats are territorial and will defend their territory and you! If you have a new partner your cat may display hissing, staring and growling to show his or her ownership.

Competitive – if you have more than one cat or your cat is in competition with a family member.

Felix sleeping with baby Felix

Maternal – mothers with kittens will be on guard and display aggressive behaviour if they feel threatened or sense danger.

cat with kittens feeding

Dominance – one cat may behave aggressively to show dominance over other family cats or intruders (or visiting pets of friends).

Older black and white cat

Play – your cat may get over stimulated when playing and revert to aggressive hunting behaviour.

Predatory – if your cats is in hunting mode he or she may show aggressive tendencies to others.


Pathophysiological – due to an injury or undiagnosed cause or in older cats dementia can cause aggression as the cat becomes disorientated.

Redirected aggression – when your cat is frustrated or agitated then turns on you.

Checklist to help identify causes of aggression in your cat

If your cat is behaving out of character a trip to your vet can help allay any fear that your cat is unwell or in pain.

  • Any recent changes to your home (building works or re-decoration) may upset your cat.
  • Has a family member been absent – cats miss people and may become anxious?
  • A tomcat will benefit from castration to solve any aggressive tendencies.
  • Do you have a new pet? Bringing a new cat or dog into your home could trigger aggressive behaviour as your cat tries to make sure the new arrival understands the pecking order.
  • If your cat is getting agitated by watching another cat or dog outside try blocking the view (closing the curtains or blinds) and allowing the cat to calm down. They may be frustrated as they cannot get to this other animal.

Why is my cat aggressive towards my new partner?

If your cat is displaying attacking behaviour towards your new girl or boyfriend it is probably because your cat is fearful, anxious or confused by the new addition to the household.

Strategies to help to build a bond between your cat and your new partner

cat stepping down the stairs

  • Ask your partner not to force their attention on the cat
  • Tell your partner not to stare at the cat (this can be perceived by your cat as aggressive and challenging behaviour)
  • Suggest to your partner that they feed the cat and give any treats (positive reinforcement of good associations each time the cat is fed)
  • Go slowly and at the cat’s pace with all interactions and gradually encourage your partner to play with the cat to help with the bonding process
  • Patience usually pays off – if your partner is kind the cat will usually start to accept him or her
  • Keep to the usual routines to reassure your cat that everything else in their world is stable

Charlie says:

ginger cat meows welcome to Lovecats

Never punish your cat; look for ways to help your cat become happy, relaxed and at ease with everyone in your household.


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