aggressive cat attack

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We recently covered petting aggression and play aggression in cats. Today, I’d like to address one other form of feline aggression, and it’s one that can be very frightening, as well as damaging, for cat guardians. This form of aggression is called redirected aggression, and it happens when a cat is agitated by an animal, event, or person it can’t get at. Unable to lash out at the perceived threat, the cat turns to the nearest victim. This may be another cat or pet in the household, or it may be the cat’s humans. These attacks happen seemingly out of the blue, and they can be fairly damaging to the victim.

Redirected aggression is not unique to cats. The human equivalent is the man who gets so angry he wants to punch someone, and ends up punching a wall instead.

What causes redirected aggression?

Most commonly, redirected aggression is triggered when indoor cats see a strange cat outside the window. Since they consider their home their territory, the outside cat is perceived as an intruder. Other triggers can include smelling a strange cat on the guardian’s hands or clothing, being frightened by something or someone, coming back inside after accidentally getting outside if the cat is normally an indoor cat, or even watching birds and squirrels outside.

This kind of attack is often described by cat guardians as coming “out of nowhere.” However, from the cat’s perspective, there is always a trigger. It is important to understand that these attacks are not malicious, or even intentional on the cat’s part. The cat simply reacts to a perceived threat.

I’ve only experienced this once with one of my cats, and thankfully, it was an isolated incident. Feebee and I were standing by my sliding glass door looking out into the backyard. I even remember talking to him. All of a sudden, I felt his jaws clamp around my calf. I screamed – not because it was all that painful at that moment, but because I was so startled. A second ago he was sitting next to me, peacefully looking out the window. Now I saw a puffed up, hissing little grey monster next to me. I slowly walked away, and within about 30 seconds, he calmed down and acted normal again. He had left two deep puncture wounds in my calf. I don’t remember seeing anything we hadn’t seen before, but clearly, he had. And I now know how lucky I was that he recovered so quickly. For some cats, it can take days, weeks or even months to return to normal.

Of all the types of feline aggression, this is the most difficult form to deal with, because it may not always be possible to identify the trigger, and because, unlike with petting or play aggression, there’s usually no warning from the cat in terms of body language because these attacks happen so fast. It becomes especially difficult when the attack is directed at another cat in the household, because in most cases, the triggered cat will continue to be aggressive toward the victim.

What to do when you experience redirected aggression

The first order of business is to temporarily separate the cats. Ideally, put the aggressor cat into a darkened room with very few stimuli, and allow the cat to calm down. Never try to separate two fighting cats with your bare hands, and don’t yell at the cats to break up a fight – they are already in a heightened state, and will most likely react by attacking you. Use a thick towel, or a broom, to get between the cats.

Use the cats’ natural pheromones to remind them that they “know” each other. You can do this by rubbing a sock or washcloth against the side of one cat’s face, then leave the sock or cloth with the other cat, and vice versa. Use Jackson Galaxy Solutions Bully Remedy for the attacker, and Peacemaker and Stress Stopper for both cats. All three are available from Amazon. Pheromone plugins or sprays like Feliway may also help.

Slowly start reintroducing the two cats to each other. Follow the same steps you would follow with two cats that have never met. Depending on your cats, and how severely triggered the aggressor was, this can take weeks and sometimes months.

If you know what triggered the aggressive episode, remove the trigger. For example, if an outside cat continues to come near your windows and upsets your cats, close the blinds, or make your yard unattractive to other cats. Ultrasonic deterrent devices like the CatStop, or motion activated sprinklers like the ScareCrow keep other cats out of the yard without harming them. (The links in this paragraph are affiliate links*)

If you don’t know the trigger, and the episodes happen again, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Remain vigilant when you are at home, and in time, you may be able to identify the cause of redirected aggression.

The most unusual case I’ve seen was a client who lived in a small apartment with three cats who got along wonderfully, until a new mattress was delivered. One of the cats became very scared during the delivery and installation, and for reasons known only to the other two cats, they turned on the scared cat. It took a few weeks of separating the cats, along with the use of Feliway and flower essences, to return harmony to the household.

Feline aggression is a serious problem. If simple behavior modification doesn’t work, consult with a veterinarian to rule out medical or neurological issues, and/or consult with a feline behaviorist.

Photo: istockphoto

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. The Conscious Cat is an affiliate partner of Jackson Galaxy Solutions. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.  

437 Comments on Redirected Aggression: When Good Cats Attack

  1. Hi ingrid,
    We have a 3 year old male tabby who for 2+ Years has been perfect behaviour wise, he is an indoor cat and recently we have had issues with his aggression, it started about a month ago with an incident where my partner was in the yard and he was watching from behind a baby gate while another cat came into the garden my partner gestured the cat away and then approached our cat at the gate which resulted in a aggressive very uncharacteristic attack including hisses and swiping,
    We since went away for 6 days the longest we have left him and my mother stayed she has sat for him before for 3 days and she said no issues at all. Since we have returned he seems very territorial and has continued his aggressive behaviour attacking both me and my partner on a number of occasions and hissing many more around the house, as you can expect it’s extremely upsetting my partner especially as she has had cats all her life and not experienced this,
    He still allows us to hold and stroke alot and I have checked for any obvious reactions to me feeling around his body for any signs of pain which there doesn’t seem to be any.
    Any help or advice if possible would be great!

  2. I live in an apartment with three cats. Two one year old females from the same litter and one 2 year old male that was abandoned. I adopted all three last year and have had them in the apartment for over a year now. The male cat is harness trained and I often take him on walks around the complex. Yesterday, I decided I would bring one of the girls in a cat stroller and the male cat with his harness and leash to walk around a local park as it was a nice day. During the walk I noticed he was displaying signs of stress and kept hissing randomly throughout the walk. Once I arrived home, he began lashing out at both of the girl cats. I made the choice to separate them and put him in my bedroom with all the necessities (litter box, food, water, toys) to calm down for a bit. After about 2 hours I let him out and he started to attack my other cats again. At this point I put him into my spare bedroom with all the necessities and left him in there for the night. When I woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom he had managed to get the door open and was with the other cats in my living room. Everyone appeared to be calm so I left him alone til the morning. When I woke up this morning, he was purring slightly when I approached him then he jumped down and began attacking the same cat I took on a walk with him and I. I picked him up to put him back in the spare room since it was obvious he was upset still and he lashed out at me for the first time. He was extremely aggressive and growling and hissing at me. He sounded like a rabid animal. All of my cats are up to date with their vaccines so I’m not worried about rabies or anything like that. I just hate to see him being this big bully to my other two. He and I usually have a very great relationship, I got him before my other two cats and we have always been attached at the hip. I’m devastated that he is against me and my other cats and I just don’t know what to do. Is it possible the walk just stressed him out so much that he’s mad at all of us because of it?

    • I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Most likely, the cat you took on the walk with him smelled differently to him, and that’s probably what triggered the aggression. I would keep him separate from the other two cats and very slowly and gradually reintroduce him to the others. I’d avoid future walks to reduce the possibility of introducing new scents into the mix. Make sure you spend plenty of time with him and play with him to help him burn off energy.

    • I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. My guess is that the other cat you took on the walk with you in the stroller smelled different to him after being outside, and that’s what triggered the series of attacks. I would keep him in a separate room and very slowly and gradually re-introduce him to the other two as if they had never met. I would probably not walk him outside during that time to avoid the introduction of new and different scents.

  3. So I have 3 adult female cats in my home. We have the Mama cat and we kept a kitten from each litter she had ( she had 2 litters). The youngest kitty we have is about 14 months old, her sister is about 18 months old. They have always gotten along perfectly. Never had a problem ever. The other day a friend had came for dinner and accidentally stepped on mama cats tail. She immediately turned and aggressively attacked my other 2 cats ( her babies). It was so scary I couldn’t get her to calm down. She continued to be aggressive and combative and cornered Beatles (the 18 month old) under the bed. I had tried to stop Lola (mama cat) but there was no stopping her. I was finally able to get Beatles out from under the bed. At that time I separated all 3 of them. The next day my daughter allowed Lola into her room where she had Nelly (the 14 month old) and they got along for a sec then Lola attacked Nelly again. Also Lola had snuck into the room Beatles is in and Lola was going to jump on my lap like she always does and Beatles attacked her. I don’t know what to do. This is a nightmare, I never thought this could happen. They we’re just a sweet little kitty family 2 days ago. Now it’s like their enemies and want to hurt each other. I don’t know what to do. I just wish they could get along and love each other again.

  4. So we had a baby about 2 months ago, and I was terrified our 5 year old cat would not handle it well. Ever since home she has handled it great and been so happy around him. Yesterday we were loading the car to make a trip, I came through the door and our cat just snapped. Went to hissing and squalling at my wife, (right next to the baby in his swing), but fairly quickly we shooed her into the bathroom and shut the door. She continued to growl and moan from the bathroom, and as we got ready to leave on the trip (with wife and baby in the car) I released her from the bathroom. She pawed at me a few times but not nearly as aggressive as before. We went on our daily trip, about 8 hours and returned home to find her totally normal. She has never done this aside of one time when I was trying to find fleas on her and she was younger. She does play rough but NEVER hisses or actually attacks. I just fear for the baby so we are not allowing her to sleep with us anymore. Any idea what happened? Did I bring a smell in? Did I scare her coming in and out of the door? Just so weird because my wife found this cat as a kitten and I have never seen a cat so close to one human before.

    • I’m so sorry this happened. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to tell what sets off these episodes. It may have been triggered by a scent you brought in from the outside, or a noise that startled her. I completely understand being worried about your baby, and not trusting your cat anymore. I would recommend working with a feline behaviorist to help you work through this so you can regain rebuild the relationship with your cat. I can highly recommend Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski Both offer remote consultations.

  5. Thank you so much for this post!

    My cat had never intentionally hurt me, until yesterday he went psycho on my arm. I had scooped him up during our walk to try and take him away from a potential cat fight when we passed someone else walking their cat.

    It was clear he was agitated, but I didn’t want him getting into a fight. I got incredible used to being able to calm him down by holding him. I’ve had him for years, and he’s just never broken my skin even during baths. It was very shocking.

  6. At first I didn’t think this is what our cat has been experiencing. Especially when most of the comments talked about it happening when another cat or animal was in the house.

    Our cat, Flóki, has been with us a year now. He’s an indoor cat, fixed, and has always had a great temperament with us and all guests. Never experienced a problem… until about a month ago.

    He loves “watching cat tv” at the front window. He pats at the window when the birds and squirrels are eating at the neighbours feeders. His nail flips about. The odd little mew comes out but very innocent and he is never bothered with us sitting on the couch beside him when watching.

    However, later on in the evening, my boyfriend and I were in the kitchen making dinner. The cat normally likes to lie on the floor by us (he loves company). My boyfriend bent down to give Flóki’s belly a rub, which our cat loves and adores. The cat took it as a time to play. He started nipping and grabbing my boyfriend’s hand. Then he bit harder. My boyfriend said “NO!” sternly. Next thing we know, the cat is on all fours, mouth open baring his teeth and making these weird yowling noises. He kept moving forward towards my boyfriend. He tried to lunch at my boyfriend, but my boyfriend stomped the ground, leaning towards him with a very loud “NO” and the cat ran away. We found it odd and kind of shook it off.

    Later on, I was sitting on the ground with the cat walking around me, rubbing against me, etc… next thing I know he suddenly gets wide-eyed and instead of rubbing his face against my leg like before, he completely bit at me. He’s never bit me or even tried.

    My boyfriend experienced the yowling and circling thing again this morning. It was almost like an “alpha male” moment. My boyfriend yelled loud and banged his foot again. The cat ran away and almost immediately became docile again.

    While the redirected aggression thing makes sense, we’re wondering if our cat is suddenly experiencing a need to go “alpha” in the house. There’s nothing new in our routine or having the cat. He’s a year old now and never had a problem. He’s currently cuddling with my boyfriend, lol.

    Anyone else experience this?

    • Painful Medical Conditions

      Cats that are in pain or not feeling well often resort to aggression in an attempt to defend themselves. They don’t always understand that the source of their pain or discomfort is internal and will lash out at a pet or person near them when they feel it. They might also do so offensively as a way to keep someone from aggravating a painful condition they are enduring.

    • A sudden change in behavior may be caused by an underlying medical condition, so I would get your cat checked out by your vet as soon as possible. Based on what you’re describing, it’s also possible that your boyfriend’s loud “NO” triggered the initial attack. It may have startled your cat who was already in “attack” mode during the rough play session you describe. Once an attack like that happens, it can take hours or even days for the cat to settle, and even minor things can trigger a repeat attack. Once you’ve ruled out medical issues, I would recommend working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski Both offer remote consultations.

  7. Hello,
    I’m having a problem with my two—6 year old male. (Littermates). They have always been best of Friends. In December Beau got out by mistake for about 40 minutes. We realized and got him right in. My other cat Toby hissed at him and ran away. We wiped Beau down with baby fragrance free wipes.. the hissing went on and off for about 5 hours. We kept an eye on them. Then a fight ensued .. full cat fight. Me and my husband jumped up they ran to our basement we ran after. Separated them. Did the re-introduction for 3 weeks. They got back together some growling and Leary around each other. But seemed to be co-existing okay. 2 weeks later my husband played a video of a high pitched baby cry.. they both got so scared. They had saucer eyes and both nervous. About 20 minutes later my one cat attacked the other out of no where. We don’t have kids so are not use to baby cries. I’m thinking it might have been redirected aggression. Could it be from still getting acquainted. Anyway, we have been doing the re-introduction again for 5 weeks now. No negative reaction at week 3 tried to get them together and hissing and growling from the victim . Then my other cat got puffy then the other hissed and growled again and ran into the bathroom .. I shut the door and they have been separated again for a week now. Since that encounter Only did sight twice and no negative reaction from either.. is the victim Toby having fear aggression now .. we are going to redo everything again. If we can’t get them passed the baby gates again. Should I look into medication for both on a temporary Basis. To get them over the fear. I’m hoping the noise attack was an isolated incident .. nothing ever like that has ever happened. I feel like since both getting over a fight a few weeks before that which was non-
    recognition that still being uneasy may have caused the other to react like that.

    • Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for repeat incidences of redirected aggression once there was an incident. The baby noise probably sounded like another cat to them, and that’s why it triggered another attack. It sounds like you’re doing everything right by separating the cats after an incident and slowly re-introducing them. Medication may help, I would definitely discuss this with your vet. You may also want to consider consulting with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski Both offer remote consultations.

      • Thank you for your reply. I’m going to see if me and my husband can get them together with out any begitive signs once they are out from behind the baby gates. They are fine with the barrier. Once it was moved for the re-introduction that when we had a negitive response . No actual contact because I stepped in. My one cat Toby is very senseitive to smell. We had a case of non- recognition 2 years ago after beau came back from a vet visit. It never caused a fight. But, this time with him getting out by mistake for a short time caused the first fight ever with them. Toby was hissing from beau being out but he never went after him. We are not sure who started that one. Because hours later. Toby was just going about his business and Beau followed him and then it started. But Toby seemed scared of him after the fight which made me believe it was beau being tired of the hissing and some growling from Toby. We lucked out there and got them back together after 3 weeks like I said. however, the baby video really did sound like a cat your right and I also thought that myself. So sad when these things happen .. I believe it’s hard for the cats to regain trust.. they are both great cats .. if all else fails I will talk to my vet. I did find a feline behaviorist close to me. In case.
        Thank you!

  8. I have a 2 year old female diluted tortoise cat and she has been the most wonderful pet since we’ve had her. We relocated to a new state last year and decided to bring another kitten into the home. As mentioned before, Clawdia (our original cat) went completely insane on the kitten. We realized the error of our method and began slowly introducing them. For a few months, they were fine. A little over a week ago, we had a couple of stray cats spray outside of our back door. Whenever Clawdia catches a whiff, she begins attacking very viciously and it does not stop. We tried to deter the strays but the scent is still there. We haven’t been able to properly clean the area because we are afraid to be near our cat. (I actually stayed at my mother’s for a couple nights). We had no choice to be have animal control come pick her up and take her to our local Humane Society because it seemed like she could not relax being able to smell other cats. The Humane Society will hold her for us if we decide to change our mind. I believe that my smaller cat was reaching sexual maturity (we are having her spayed next week) and that fact, along with the outdoor cat smell that came in after going in and out, created a perfect storm of stimuli to put our cat in a rage. We are considering getting rid of the kitten and deep cleaning the front and back patios and trying again. My question is: how often does a really violent episode like this occur again after the initial one? I’ve heard that once a cat is completely fueled by rage, it is just a part of who they are after that. I can not go through this again, so images of her attacking us is what has kept me from picking her up and bringing her home.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve had to experience that, Toby. These situations can resolve, but, as the article explains, it can take time for a cat to settle down after an episode like this. I urge you to consider working with a feline behaviorist before you make any irreversible decisions. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski Both offer remote consultations. My heart goes out to you – these situations are devastating and challenging.

  9. So my husband and I got out first kitten going on two years ago. Everything was great, I worked mornings, he worked nights. Stark (neutered male) was a happy camper. About 8 months later we got a second kitten, (spayed female named Zelda) so he could have a friend since we both went to mornings. Took less than 12 hours to be friends, again, happy campers. She came from PetSmart and was a little traumatized and was recently diagnosed with anxiety ( just this last month). We moved two states over and everything went great. They were introduced to a Boston terrier and that went fine, we had the basement to ourselves ( bedroom, laundry room and living room) the dog left and everything was happy and they love my in laws. She started to exhibit some strange signs that we didn’t really notice until it was to late. She was slowly becoming less social ( she is more socailized than stark) but that was about it. About a month ago we were all eating dinner, normal night when out of nowhere she attacked full force on Stark. We didn’t know what happened and there was no damage but he was shaking because he was so frightened…. We separated them and would switch floors top and basement with the cats with no contact. Got them to eat around each other but not to close. Sadly it didn’t work, literally when they make eye contact it’s all over. Smells don’t matter just eyes. Went to the vet and literally ran every test available, had her teeth cleaned since she had gingivitis, literally everything. The vet ordered a month of pure separation. They meow to each other through the door, calling the other to play as if nothing had ever happened. My husband and I are sleeping in completely different rooms and I’m splitting my time between the cats. We have them both on anti anxiety meds and for the diffusers. Hopefully to make the transition smoother. His is temporary, hers is permanent.

    Here’s my questions:
    1.) How do I reintroduce them? How long should I take for each step?
    2.)this has been stressful for all ,my husband and now in laws, ( moved into their house but everyone was happy) how can I destress the home and our fears if possible more cat on cat attacks
    3.) The vet mentioned that they would probably never be friends again and we were praying that they just tolerate each other. That breaks my heart in two, they are my babies and I want a happy home again. They were the absolute best of friends and did EVERYTHING together. Is this true? Should I abandon all hope now before I get my hopes up?

    • I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, it’s so distressing for everyone involved. To answer your questions:

      1.) Go very very slowly, and if you see even a minor sign that something isn’t going well, back up a step and go even slower. This re-introduction may take weeks or even months.

      2.) The energy of the humans in the home is crucial to making this work, as you already are aware of. Use any and all techniques you know to manage your own stress, especially when you’re around the cats. If it’s something you’re open to, you may even want to consider seeing a therapist who specializes in post traumatic stress, because that’s exactly what you’re experiencing.

      3.) While these situations can be difficult to resolve, and while there’s no guarantee that it will resolve, there are also plenty of cats and humans who have been able to get past this. I would encourage you to not lose hope and not give up.

      And finally, I highly recommend working with a feline behaviorist to help you work through this situation. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Dr. Mikel Delgado and Dr. Marci Koski Both offer remote consultations.

      Best wishes to you, and keep us posted on how things are going!

    • Hi kayla, I am wondering if you ever resolved this? I realize years have passed. I am dealing with the exact same situation basically (eye contact is the problem more than smell… recent teeth cleaning after the incident) and we are heartbroken our 5 year old littermates aren’t getting along. Thank you so much for any help you might have

      • Sorry to say this is a long story but I will do my damndest to summarize. We went to a behavioral specialist and spent close to 10k (no regrets!) with that we did full separation (we live on a tri level. ) I slept upstairs In a spare room (we also live with my in-laws) so we had more “chaos” than we wanted. So the male and I lived upstairs, my husband and the female downstairs for two years. Since it wasn’t our home we couldn’t control the environment and couldn’t afford to move. The dog, kids and family would come 3 times a year. With that stated, we drew a diagram of our home, Had 2 automatic litter boxes that they grew up with and tried to make the living room the safe zone. The open area put her on edge. Also! Get unscented litter! That was a HUGE DEAL! Apparently she was holding it because she was sensitive to the smell and it made her more anxious!

        So for and hour or two a day we would swap the kitties, they would sleep and act normal. Gifted with treats. We fed on opposite sides of the door as far as three feet away. Every two days we would Scooch a little closer. They did great! This took a week or two if I remember right. Then we would do the food without the door, sadly we had to do it on the stairs we were about a foot and a half away before stark passed due to a urinary blockage.

        They didn’t like being in crates and pushed. We got the feliway multi cat (life saver!) we bought royal cabin calm diet (expensive but worth every bit In Gold) both kitties were on meds twice a day they never marked or fought over cat boxes since we had two. I was prepared to feed both kitties in a tiny kennel I built with a wall between and specialized cat doors that opened to each because the female was a fatty and would eat his food for when they got together

        So I’ll make bullet points

        1:) get blood work. Apparently they could have an underlying health issue

        2:) look into prescriptions (chewy was far cheaper than my vet)

        3:)feliway was so expensive when we got here. With all the moving expenses we had and lack of jobs in a new area cash got tight. Worth it but CHECK THE SQ. Footage that it covers!

        4:) the royal canin calm diet is a prescription. See if kitty needs it Also cheaper on chewy. Zelda still eats it afterwards and it’s so helpful!

        5:) give them safe spaces for them to separate in that doesn’t not get contaminated by the other kitty.

        I have so much more info but as always this is my experience, if I can save you the cash I will try Please talk to a vet before any actions. If you need clarification or have more questions please ask! This is a thin line of what we did

  10. I have two male cats & 2 dogs 15 years ago when i introduced my rescued dog to the house hold my male cat lunged at the new dog as if he thought we needed to be protected it took 3 of us to get the dog behind the bedroom door with the cat lunging all the way down the hallway. We introduced them slowly again and all has been fine the male cat even excepting our new doberman puppy 3 years ago. I never forgot that terrible day so i had thankfully a huge respect for what a cat can do when it goes mountain lion…the dog only able to fend the cat off and the cat continuing to lunge. Fast forward 15 years later i’m fostering a little springer spaniel 1 year old puppy we only have had 2 weeks. The only concern was will she be okay with cats. I should of noticed the signs when my cat twice came in the bathroom to bite me on the arm…not hard enough to be concerned but i should have noticed the tension building, he didn’t like the new puppy. Today out of no where the cat lunged on the puppy and all three dogs were pulled into a fight with this mt lion cat. I got in the middle to be the buffer and got pretty torn up bites and punctures wounds up and down my legs, arms and hands ugh. I was on my way in my mind to the vet to put the cat down, i’m so upset over this…my son got bit pretty good holding the cat down. We love our cat, i’m thankful for this article, the springer puppy will be leaving asap…hopefully this will resolve the issue. Couple months ago my cat bit my calf, during that time the other cat was sneaking outside more since we fixed the screen so the friendlier cat stays in. Now thinking back on that incident it was probably due to the other cat getting outside. The scar on my leg just now is healing…it will take several months for all these bite wounds and scratches to heal this go around…

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you, Cheryl. It may take more than just removing the puppy to get your cat to settle down and behave normally again. Please consider working with your vet and/or a feline behaviorist to help you manage this situation. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

  11. My problem with redirected agression isn’t actually with a cat of mine, but with my neighbor’s cat.
    I’m taking care of her while my neighbor is away.
    She’s very territorial and I smell of my own 3 cats. It’s a very awkward situation the twice a day I come to check on her.
    She instantly hisses and growls when I arrive but allows me to give her food.
    She doesn’t show real agression when I play with her. I can even lightly touch her then, but the moment I stop she stalks me while mewing, hissing and growling and will even lunge at me out of the blue. I’m not sure how to treat this situation so any advice would be welcome.

    • The only suggestion I have is that you change your clothes and thoroughly wash your hands before you go visit your neighbor’s cat. You can also try spraying yourself with Feliway.

      • That’s what I’ve been doing. I wash my hands and arms up until my elbows and wear freshly washed clothing, making sure not to touch my own cats before going there, but apparently my boys’ scent is just too imbued within me.

        I’ll check to see if my local petstore has the Feliway spray and will try that. Thanks for the advice, I hadn’t thought of that!

        It’s been rather heartbreaking to see her struggle. I can tell she doesn’t hate me personally, but she just can’t get over my cats’ scent.

  12. Feral Momma cat gave us her sons July of 2017. We kept them as outdoor. October 4th, “Friendly” disappeared, and fearing predators, we took “Rascal” indoors. In November, Momma cat had another matured litter, and we took all 4 kittens. Rascal took to them very well and is a great older brother.
    This was life until May 19th 2018 when Friendly showed back up on our back porch. He was 4.5# less weight than Rascal, and was tough and sinewy.
    I was elated to get him home, so we had him go through all vet procedures, including neutering. Kept him in two merged cages in an open back room.
    From the get-go, Friendly (despite his nearly 8 month absence at only 6 months old at the time) and Rascal remembered each other, but the dynamic of the relationship shifted nearly 360 degrees.
    Friendly had become highly aggressive; not passive like Rascal, and he has attacked Rascal many times, jumping on his back and grabbing the nape of Rascal’s neck.
    Each time, I was able to pull Friendly off and Rascal showed no signs of injury.
    Then one Saturday, I placed all cats in our outdoor cat enclosure. Friendly was in a cat-restrictive bag/device that discourages movement. All went well. On Sunday, I repeated the scenario, but didn’t check for a little over an hour. To my horror, I found that Friendly had squeezed out of his bib and had attacked Rascal again, things were turned over, Friendly injured eye and Rascal’s paws were injured.
    One month after neutering, he is still very aggressive toward the others, but does focus on Rascal.
    So, we have two cat camps: Indoors freely moving about for 5, and Indoor Friendly in the cage, which at this point his vet procedures & injury is healed, so I need him out of the cage.
    I have considered returning him to a feral state and having him as a backyard cat again, but I have that fear of another disappearance. I’d have to re-open the underside of the porch and close off entrance to under the rest of the house (pier & beam). I still want to protect him. I thought of enclosing the small 12×10 back porch. I’d have to figure how to keep him cool in the Texas heat, so that concerns me.
    I’ve tried the separations, pheromone’s, sprayer, talks, but Friendly is so focused to duke it out with his brother. The other cats are stressed out after being around him, and then they are hissy toward each other. I don’t want discourse in our home.
    I need your suggestions and thank you!

    • Short of completely separating the cats and starting slow and gradual introductions again, I don’t really have any other suggestions. As you well know, every time one of these episodes happens, things are getting worse, and it’s affecting everyone. I think your best bet is working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

      • Thank you, Ingrid, for your wonderful suggestions and very quick response! Have to do something, as I love ALL of my cats! Thanks again!

  13. Hi Everyone,

    I have an indoor cat whom is normally very loving and super sweet. She has sadly had a few issue with redirected aggression toward me. It scares me to no end when it happens. It sadly takes me awhile to trust her again. She has never bitten me but the snarling, hissing, and she traps me into a location normally on the couch can last hours.

    When it happens she seems confused….one min she is hissing and snarling at me and a few moments later it is like she realizes it is me and starts rubbing her head on my leg or foot, smelling me, or trying to play with me. Though when I think everything is okay, I try to get up and she goes back to snarling. It takes a few times of her going through this before she becomes normal. I want to place her in a dark room so she can calm down but I am so afraid of her attacking me that I just stay still.

    This last incident I saw what the trigger was. It was a Feral cat right outside the window. The feral cat was even trying to jump up in the window sill to get to my beloved. So I understand why this last incident lasted so long.

    My fear is someday she may bite me. I love her so much and can’t imagine having to giver her away. She is the most loving baby most of the time, but I also can’t live with her if I am afraid of her.

    My heart breaks to take away the one place she has claimed as hers….(The window sill). Though for what I am reading in these post. That is what is recommended. So I took away her access yesterday….she seems so sad and depressed looking up at the window sill. It truly breaks my heart. I also placed some granulates and spray around the area which claims to deter cats. Am I doing the right thing by taking away a place she loves…..Is there anything I can do?

    I want to keep the family together….please any advise is welcomed. Thank you for your time in reading and answering.

    • You definitely need to remove the trigger, so you did the right thing by blocking access to the window sill for your cat. Here are some tips to deter outside cats from coming near your home: I’d also try to create an alternate area for her to soften the loss of her window sill – maybe a small cat tree with an elevated bed? If you can deter the outside cat from coming near your window, blocking the window sill for your cat may only need to be temporary.

  14. Hi everyone,

    I’m having a pretty bad case of redirected aggression with my 3 year old male Siamese (fixed). The first episode was in the beginning of April – he was perched by the window looking out. I walked into the room and called his name but he didn’t react. I took a step into the room, stumbled on some stuff, and made a large noise which he completely flipped out on, falling from the window sill. When I ran over to see if he was okay, he went completely feral on me screaming, yowling, and hissing. I was able to shut him in the room, but he got multiple deep gashes across my body and I was pretty traumatized by the experience. Luckily, he calmed down after 40min or so and was completely normal after that. I took him to the vet the next day and did a full work-up to be safe, and he didn’t have any problems. We learned then that this was a case of redirected aggression as well as pent up stress. I live at my apartment with my girlfriend but the two of us are students so he spends a lot of time by himself during the day. On top of that, we have loud upstairs neighbors that stomp around when they move and repiping construction going on. I’m guessing all the noise is stressing him out, but it’s hard to say. Our vet wanted to to wait on prescribing medication for him and instead suggested that we try enriching his environment and consider getting him a playmate.

    After looking for a while, finally decided on getting a kitten a couple weeks back – we’re actually picking him up this weekend. But yesterday morning, it happened again. Recently, our cat has taken a liking to sleeping/hanging out underneath my bed. As I always do, I went to the bedroom and peeked underneath to say bye to him. Then as before, he jumped our shrieking and yowling and tried to attack me. I tried to be calm and offered him his favorite treats without changing the tone of my voice. Luckily, he did manage to calm down from that and even took a nap on my lap afterwards.

    A few hours later, I took a study break and laid across my bed. He came shooting out from underneath and attacked again. This time, I panicked because I was lying down and couldn’t react in time. He got deep gashes on my arm once again, and I had to shut him in his room. But this time, even after an hour, he didn’t calm down. I cracked open the door to talk to him calmly and he kept yowling and letting out ear-splitting screams. I managed to slide in his litter box, food, and water but I was pretty shaken up so I decided to leave him there overnight. My girlfriend is out of town for the weekend so I stayed over at my parents’ house.

    We went to check up on him today again and he started making his usual meowing sounds when he complains. But once I cracked the door and tried talking to him his meowing got more agitated and he hissed. Not quite to the point of yowling and whatnot, so I like to think he’s getting better? I was able to put down more water and food for him and I’ll be checking back on him tomorrow.

    I read all the comments above and noticed people saying that it might take several days for him to calm down but any reassurance that he actually will would be very comforting. I also purchased a couple Feliway diffusers and a calming pheromone collar I hope to try with him once he’s calmed down. We even have the kitten coming in on Saturday, so I really hope that can help.

    If anyone has any suggestions or similar experiences I’d really appreciate it.

    • I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, Kevin – these experiences are so distressing, and yours is pretty extreme. It is true that it can take days for a cat to calm down after these episodes, and you’re doing the right thing by keeping him in a separate room until he does. I am concerned about introducing a kitten into this situation. It is possible that it will help, but you’re going to have to be very careful about introducing the kitten slowly and gradually. I would recommend working with a feline behaviorist for both the overall situation and the new kitten introduction. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

      All my best to you, and let us know how things are going.

  15. I have an indoor year old intact male cat that I have had since he was only weeks old. Judo has always had the most amazing temperment, he was gentle, never scratched or bit or even hissed. That is, until tonight and recently. But after reading this what has happened makes a lot more sense. I wish I would have known about this type of aggression wirh indoor cats before. Now I know that all of the changes in my cats behaviour might not have ever became a problem had I not started taking my cat outside. I thought it would be a good thing for him to experience, but it has turned my once easy-going gentle docile perfect cat into an unpredictable maniac cat that will attack forcefully if startled and who rarely uses his litter box anymore.

    I had the perfect cat. He is an intact male and yet I had no problem with him spraying, and he never EVER was violent or aggressive to me or anyone else even when frightened, I never heard him hiss until just recently. That’s why I never had him neutered, his behaviour was so good, he never dissplaying any of the behaviours attributed to intact males and used as reasons to neuter. And he was an indoor cat so there wasn’t any need for the procedure in my opinion.
    But it was my bright idea to start taking him outside in a harness on a leash.

    Just right out front of our apartment for a while. I thought it would add some excitement he would enjoy to his daily routine

    When he started using our whole place as a litter box I didn’t put two and two together. I am kind of ocd asbout cleabing thr litter box, I cleabed it two tunes a day minimum and replaced the litter entirely twice a week. But I had a really bad flu and so for the first time ever I neglected his box for a day so I attributed his peeing or poopimg outside of it to being accustimed to s much cleaner litter box.
    Tonight I had a friend over and Judo was the star of the show with those love-y squinty eyes and kneaded on the both of us.

    As my friend was leaving and I opened the door, Judo went beside me and was passing the threshold of the door so I put my foot out to stop him.
    Without any warning Judo lunged at my foot and latched on with his teeth and his claws. I knew that he drew blood but thankfully he didn’t continue attacking, and I somehow refrained from a knee jerk violent kick or other move to get him off me. My cat backed away and took cover behind a chair, all the fur on his body standing out to the fullest. I had never even seen my cats fur like that. This just happened. My foot has a couple pretty deep gashes that hurt but I have put antibacterial ointment on them, I don’t think I need stiches. I am sad that my cat has changed this way and bummed that I have to be cautious around him now. Hee was a good cat! I could do antthing to him and he never was bothered. I never would expect him to react like that because I raised my foot in his direct. Raised my socked foot slowly and gently too btw. Bit menacingly or aggressively. I think I ruined my cat by incorporating some outdoor time into his life. I really think that if I had not, this would never EVER happen. He would have remained gentle docile and tolerant. And the litter box problem was never a problem before I started taking him outside.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you, Lauren. First of all, I urge you to seek medical care for yourself. Cat bites can lead to dangerous infections if not treated. I would also recommend having Judo neutered as soon as possible. Additionally, you may want to consider working with your vet and a feline behaviorist to help you understand how you can regain Judo’s trust and recover from this episode.

  16. Thank you very much for this very informative article. It helped to make me understand what happened today with my cat, which, frankly, was pretty traumatising. I adopted my 5-year-old cat 1.5 years ago from a shelter and had to keep him indoors, because I was living in Japan in an apartment. He is quite a peaceful and cuddly cat, although a bit fearful. I moved back to my country about 3 months ago and took him on the plane which went surprisingly well. I moved into my grandpa’s house with him and he seemed to settle in fine (he kept using his litter boxes properly, which he had problems with in Japan). I kept him indoors. Then about 2 months ago, I went to the vet with him for a checkup and then to my parents’ house briefly to do some chores and took him inside with me. My parents have a cat, too, and he saw her but completely ignored her. I left after a few minutes, but after this incident he started spraying around the house and using his litter box less and less. I then tried taking him outside on a leash, because he needs to lose weight (he’s almost 7kg/15.5pounds) and the vet suggested this. We do have quite a few indoor/outdoor cats in our neighbourhood. He seemed to enjoy his walk outside, but after his first walk out he kept meowing to be let out and completely stopped using his litter box. So I made it a habit to take him outside everyday for around 20-30 minutes. When he sees other cats, he sometimes becomes agitated and starts meowing and he has hissed at me a couple of times, but nothing more. But today, I carried him back from our walk and we came across another cat (that lives in our neighbourhood and that he knows) and he started meowing. We got inside and I tried to take the collar of him. Out of nowhere, he suddenly jumps at my face and starts scratching it. He is really big and strong and he almost got his claws into my eye. I managed to get him away from me and he seemed to have calmed down, but my face was bleeding all over and I was in shock. This was a few hours ago and he appears calm now again and is sleeping peacefully. I hope this will remain an isolated incident, but I am not sure if I should stop with the walks. If I don’t take him outside he keeps spraying all over the house.

    • Since other cats appear to be the trigger for the attack on you, I would definitely stop the walks, at least for now. You may also want to block visual access to any outside cats. I would recommend working with a feline behaviorist and/or your vet to help you address the issue of spraying. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can highly recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

  17. My older cat (she’s around 11 or so) started having some blood in her urine last night (or she was bleeding her in her nether regions… I’m not sure). Our younger cat, who is 2, started sniffing at the older one and sniffing at the spots where the older one was laying (the spots had some light pink blood spots there)… and suddenly turned hostile towards our older cat whenever she was near. She will hiss and growl at her until the older one would move away. Do you think this will subside over time?
    To add to the stress for our younger cat, she also experienced our older dog (to whom she is extremely close with) having one of his seizures last night.
    She is not hostile towards him or any of us… just our older cat.
    She is not a new cat. We have had Lexi (the older cat) since she was 5 and we have had Elsa (the young cat) since she was freshly weaned from her mom. Elsa and Lexi have a sibling type relationship. They clean each other and snuggle, and then Elsa likes to randomly attack Lexi (playfully) every now and then. She has never been hostile towards her.
    ** I have already scheduled an appointment for Lexi to be seen at the vet and I have already collected the urine sample as well. Lexi is no longer bleeding or showing signs of having blood in her urine. She has an appointment tomorrow morning… along with our dog**

    • It sounds like whatever is going on with Lexi changed how she smells to your younger cat. You may want to separate the two until after your vet visit. Since Elsa seems to be very sensitive to changes in scent, she may display non-recognition aggression toward Lexi when she returns from the vet: It might make sense to just separate the two now, and then deal with a slow reintroduction after the vet visit. However, DO NOT use the recommended scent swap routine prior to the vet visit. Since Elsa is already reacting to Lexi’s altered scent, that would probably make things worse. I hope this helps.

  18. Hi I have a cat who we adopted at about 7 weeks old and have had him for 2 years. Normally he’s very sweet and gentle with me and my husband maybe the occasional playful bite but never scratching on purpose. Yes with strangers he can be a bit hissy or sometimes more aggressive but other times he’s fine. I’m still in a bit of a traumatised state from what happened today. We live in a high level flat so my cat is fully kept indoors. Today my husband decided to bring a cat he saw on the street inside to meet my cat just to see how they’d get on. Within seconds my cat turned completely insane and jumped to my leg leaving me with a dozen deep scratches. He proceeded to attack my husband and was loudly hissing and meowing at the foreign cat. Obviously my husband then immediately took the foreign cat out back to the street but my cat seems to be ok now I hope. I’m just concerned now if he’ll be like this when we have kids as we’re planning to start a family. I’m really concerned about the idea of having to give him a way but after today I just don’t know.
    Do you have any advice for me? Thank you

    • I know this had to be traumatic, and I’m sorry this happened to you, Nora, but it’s not a surprising reaction on your cat’s part at all. Anytime you bring a new cat into your home, you need to do slow and gradual introductions. When your husband brought the strange cat into your home, your cat felt threatened, that’s why he attacked. It may take some time for him to settle down and feel comfortable with you and your husband again after this episode. Be cautious around him, and confine him to a separate room for a day or two if necessary until he has completely calmed down.

      You did mention that he’s sometimes aggressive with strangers – that’s something I’d recommend discussing with your vet and/or a feline behaviorist.

      • Hi, you didn’t mention whether or not the cat is safe to have around children? My 2 1/2 yo cat attacked me last night after I jumped on my boyfriend, (1. We play fight all the time, so she’d be used to all the movement 2. It’s just me and boyfriend in the house so there’s not a lot going on! 3. She’s known us both since she was a kitten 4. She’s not easy to startle if she’s watching you! And if she is, she’ll run and hide!) When I jumped on my boyfriend, playfully, arms around neck and legs around his waist, my cat attacked my back and butt (She was sitting on the arm of the chair) and when I yelled and jumped away (my boyfriend went left, I went right) she went after my boyfriend. My cat and I spend a lot of time together and cuddle every night, I bathe her and she will struggle but never attacks, when she’s feeling aggressive towards other cats/strangers and they come near her she will hiss and hide and bat her paw (but rarely does her paw actually have her claws out) so for her to attack me in such a full on way, I have gauge marks on my back and scratches on my butt, now whenever she hisses I get this surge of fear and I’m also scared that she’ll attack my young nieces like that one day (and as comment above mentioned, were planning on having kids one day, so how do I go about to ensure this NEVER happens again – I won’t care why it happened if my children have been attacked and scarred)

        • Sadly, there is no way to predict how a cat will behave around children. In the scenario you’re describing, your cat probably felt like she was getting involved in your playful interaction with your boyfriend. When you yelled, she felt threatened and redirected against your boyfriend. It’s impossible to guarantee that this will never happen again, but understanding how and why these attacks happen with your cat can go a long way toward prevention. I recommended discussing this with your vet and/or a feline behaviorist.

  19. Hi, This article and comments with answers is really great, thanks! I’m hoping you are still answering comment questions and/or giving guidance. My cat is almost 9 years old and I’ve had him since he was 7 weeks old. He has only been aggressive outside on a leash when smelling other cats and since then I have stopped letting him outside at all. That agression was years ago now. He had a terrible experience at the vet last year where he was blocked and had to have multiple catheters and stay at the vet for almost a week. Since that he has attacked me twice. The first time was bad, he scarred my leg but I figured out there was another cat under our house at that point and I assumed that was the cause. He seems on edge all the time now. His diet has changed because of the blockage to only one type of food and he is angry about that because he was already a picky eater and grew tired of food quickly so we would just change it and now we can’t do that because he restricted to one type of food only. Just the other day, my dogs started barking out the window at another cat because there is an increase of feral cats at my house lately, and my cat started hissing and lunging at my dog while I was trying to pull the dog away from the window. He wouldn’t calm down and tried to attack. My boyfriend threw a blanket over him but that just riled him up more and he still trying to attack. Finally we were able to get the dog out of the room and shut the door. He was raging in the room for a while but we spoke calmly to him and he calmed down. We opened the door cautiously and he was till hissing so I though he may be hurt from something that happened while he was under the blanket. He started to come out of the room and rub up against things and even came to me and rubbed up against my leg. I gave him a little while to calm down and wanted to check on him and make sure he was okay. I picked him up carefully, something he usually wants me to do. He was fine, I checked his back to make sure I didn’t feel anything strange to indicate he was hurt and then went to gently set him down. As soon as his feet were almost back on the floor, he hissed and lunged at my face. I tried to grab the nap of his neck and he turned and ripped my arm apart! Claws and teeth sank in and I couldn’t get him off of me. My boyfriend ran over and then he freaked out so much that the heater next to him fell on top of both of us and he let go of me. There was blood everywhere and deep puncture wounds in my arm. He was still hissing and going crazy so much that we could barely get him in another room and shut the door quickly. My boyfriend was able to calm him down again and put him in his cat carrier. He meowed quite a bit and acted very sweet while he in there and then started chewing on the bars. I did let him back out and he eventually calmed down. I am on edge now because he injured me severely. How should I stop him when he is hissing and I can’t get the dogs away from him. When he is all claws and teeth; what should I do?? He did it again last night. The dogs came into the room and didn’t pay him any attention by stepping almost on top of him and he became angry and started to hiss at them. I tried to get the dogs out of the room, but he attacked my dog’s face and finally my boyfriend grabbed him and had to quickly shove him in the bathroom to not get attacked himself. My cat ferociously tried to claw from inside the bathroom from a crack in the door while we all fled the room. We closed the door and he continued to go crazy and howl in there, until I told my boyfriend to talk calmly to him. He then meowed all cutesy and sounded normal again. We slowly opened the door and he seemed fine as long as we didn’t get too close. He just thinks he is the boss of the house now because we keep acting scared of him, but after feeling what he can do so easily I am scared of him, so I just don’t know what to do anymore. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Shelley, I’m so sorry – what you’re dealing with is a really extreme case of redirected aggression. Off the top of my head, I think you need to give him much more time to calm down after one of these episodes. Put him in a room by himself (if you can do so safely without getting injured). Keep the blinds drawn so there is very little stimulation. Don’t interact with him for at least several hours. It may take a couple of days for him to calm down completely. Obviously, you’ll need to bring him food and water, but try to limit interacting with him until he’s completely settled down.

      I really think you need to consider working with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

      You may also want to discuss this with your vet if you haven’t already done so. Your kitty may need to be on medication, at least temporarily.

      All my best to you, and please keep us posted on how things are going.

      All my best,

    • Shelley,

      I completely understand what you are going through. My sweet boy has attacked me twice in the last two months after never having done so before. It’s a horrible feeling to be afraid of your own cat. I was finally feeling confident in the house alone with him after a month and then he attacked me again. This time I’m just terrified of being alone with him. If my husband is home I’m ok. I figure if he attacks he’ll get him off of me but when I’m alone I worry how I’ll get him off of me if he violently attacks again.

  20. For the past two nights, immediately after our puppy has come back inside from going to the bathroom in the backyard, our cat has meowed really deeply and attacked her. She’s pinned her in corners and under the bed. We’ve had the puppy for three months and they’ve gotten along PERFECTLY- always playful fighting and sleeping near each other. After we give the cat space alone, they are fine again. This has only happened two times so far, but very out of the ordinary. Any thoughts on why she’s acting so aggressively suddenly?

  21. I am so glad I found this blog and read a lot of your comments that have given me a little hope. I have got four cats, Three of the cats have been in my household for at least 2 to 3 years and they are indoor outdoor cats. I recently took the 4th cat in the last two months To help out a family member with their cat. This new cat has been an indoor cat until he came to live with us and now is an indoor and some outdoor cat. All the cats seemed to get along wonderfully until last week when one of the cats brought in a bird and the new cat was screaming at the other cats and hissing acting in extreme duress… I got the bird out safely and the cat calm down. No other problems until tonight out of the blue with no other trigger that I could identify the cat starts to scream again at the cats particularly at one of the 3… it got so bad I grabbed up the new cat and separated him in a dark room. The new cat is about five years old and has been through a lot on transitioning with all of my family members issues and then coming to this house… It’s just difficult to identify what is setting him off or how do we control this in the future. I am going to call my bed tomorrow and talk to him about this and see if maybe there is a type of calmer like Prozac for call that might be helpful. I appreciate any comments or insides anyone might have to share. Thanks so much

    • You may need to re-introduce the new cat to the others very slowly as if they had never met once he calms down. Medication can be helpful in these situations, so see what your vet says.

  22. I have a cat that sometimes bites when we pet him. Sometimes, he isn’t triggered at all and other times, we will barely pet him and he goes into attack mode jumping at our arms and hands and trying to bite us while making loud, angry meows.

    Yesterday was the worst I’ve seen of it. He loves his cheeks and chin rubbed so I was petting him a lot and he was purring and showing no signs of aggression. However, after I stopped, he jumped onto my leg and bit me and then blocked my path and jumped 5 feet in the air and tried to bite my face.

    We thought maybe he is just extremely playful and has a lot of pent up energy since he is an indoor cat and is really energetic. We thought of getting another cat for him to play with and maybe get some of that energy out. Would that be a good idea?

  23. I recently had an interesting interaction with my male cat. One day he was sitting in the window as he often does and I’m assuming another cat came near the window. This has never happened before but when the cat came close to the window I attempted to grab my cat, as I often would when I wanted him away from the window. But this time was different he actually urinated and defecated where he was and as I went to go pick him up he became very aggressive very angry and basically attacked me . This is a cat for all of its life has been the sweetest companion I could ask for . But that night for the whole night he laid in his scratcher bed and if I went near him he would growl and hiss . It has been three days since that incident and he seems to be doing a little better . On day two I accidentally stepped on his paw while I was trying to feed him and he went back onto his scratching bed and repeated the same actions . I unfortunately am a little frightened of him . Is this type of behavior going to be a permanent worry ? I just want him to go back to normal . Please help .. any input would be greatly appreciated!

    • I know this is distressing, Daniel. It can take quite a bit of time for some cats to settle down after an episode like that. I would try to not approach him until you can be sure he’s calmed down completely. Let him come to you when he’s ready.

      • Hi all,
        My fiancé rescued a sick, stray kitten and have had him for about two years now. He’s always been loving and sweet until about six months ago. He’s an indoor cat and was laying at the screen door staring outside. When an outdoor cat pounced at the screen and tried to attack. He immediately started hissing and snarling only to turn on my fiancé and attack her. After a while he calmed down. But yesterday the same thing happened only 10x worse. He backed her down onto the couch and would not let her leave. We recently got another kitten and he was very hesitant of her at first but came to love her. He then turned onto our female kitten and attacked her then when my fiancé stood up he jumped and attacked my fiancé scratching and biting her arm. (Which made her bleed severely) for two hours while I was at work he would not let her leave the couch. When I came home he acted like nothing had ever happened. He ran up and greeted me. (Rubbing his head on my legs and purring) then as soon as my fiancé or the kitten made a move, he went back into attack mode. Any suggestions?

        • I’m sorry this happened to you, I know it’s very distressing. You need to give your cat a chance to calm down, which can take several hours to several days. Put him in a separate room. Initially, you should probably be the only person who interacts with him. Eventually, see how he reacts to your fiancee. Have her bring him his food or a favorite treat while you’re also there, since your cat seems to not associate you with the incident, but makes sure that she uses a pillow or piece of cardboard so she can put something between herself and the cat so she doesn’t get hurt again, just in case. You may need to re-introduce him and the kitten slowly and gradually, as if the two had never met. I would also make sure the outside cat can’t come up to the screen door anymore, or alternately, block visual access to the outside. Be patient and go slow with this process.

  24. Hi All
    I have experienced this with my Abyssinian cat and its HORRIFYING. After the third attack (at one point my family of 4 were all locked up in different rooms for protection while he went on a rampage) we put our Cat on Prozac.
    Mind you, 99 percent of the time, you have never seen a more loving friendly cat who would just take any torture my little ones would put on him without so much as a hiss. BUT at 2 years of age and in hunting mode- he would stare out the window and the redirected aggression would come out.

    After 4 months on Prozac- not one episode until last night. My 13 year old and I were stretching on the floor, our cat came up and nuzzled playfully then came back a minute later and attacked my child out of the blue. I’m wondering if he thought we were suddenly fighting? Something perhaps to do with being on the floor.
    So not sure what to do at this point. This is a top bred cat (Love how the breeder never warned us of this). I LOVE Abyssinans but I stress to people do your research before you buy one. My old cat was also an Abby and we NEVER had this problem, but not as well breed as this one. A co- worked, also has one from a top breeder and same thing.
    Any Advice?

      • thank you for your advice
        We are working with our vet but maybe call on these people if need be.
        I know de-clawing maybe cruel and have other side effects but he still has his teeth.
        Using his dose of prozac maybe the next step for now.
        thanks again

  25. I adopted a male cat seven years ago. He’s kept indoors at all times and for the most part, he is an incredibly loving cat who loves to cuddle up and be wherever I am. He hisses at strangers (mostly men) but does not go on the attack. He does, however, attack me, the person he is most attached to. These aren’t triggered by pats or by play. Usually he goes for my arms but just recently I was lying under an blanket and he went for my face, narrowly missing my eye. These attacks are quite severe and often result in bleeding and even scarring. No hissing or indications of aggression and after the attack he seems completely normal. He never attacks anyone else and I don’t know why he would go after me considering what a close bond we have.

    • I’m assuming you’ve taken him to your vet to get him checked out to rule out any medical issues? I wonder whether there’s something he smells on you, Alexis? Did you recently change shampoos, or perfume?

  26. Hello, I have a male cat who lives outdoors. He’s always meowing and never shuts up, always begging to be pet, but we’ve been having an issue with him being aggressive and attacking whenever you touch his sides or his stomach ever since he was younger. He was begging for me to hold him, so I picked him up. However when I went to put him down, my hands were around his sides, so he made an angry meow and scratched me made my finger bleed. He will sometimes attack people’s legs out of nowhere. He’s certainly not playing because he always makes an angry meow when he’s upset. We don’t think he has worms or anything, but we can’t afford to see a vet. Is there anything that can be done about this?

    • It’s possible that it’s play or petting aggression, but that level of sensitivity leads me to believe it’s a pain reaction. You need to take your cat to a vet.

  27. I rescued my kitten at about two and a half months from a farm where she was found with four siblings but no mother. My friend started taking care of them, but she didn’t want to keep them, as she has a house cat, who was getting very upset, angry and hissing at them every time she saw them. So they were kept outside. She is a very sweet gentle cat, follows me everywhere, enjoys our company, when we leave the house she immediately goes to sleep somewhere in the bedroom or the basement. She never accepted any cat beds or places that I would have chosen for her. Sometimes though she stays in our bed always around my head purring always when touched. Lately she started this aggression when she seems like only waiting for me to get ready for bed and she hides under the bed. Then she jumps on it and literally attacks me bitting my body parts either thru my blanket or slides under it, goes after my nose, cheeks, bites my hands when I’m trying to stop her, none of my actions work, so finally I have to grab her and throw her out the door and close it. Again, out of the bedroom she is the sweetest playful kitten following my every step and calling for attention, purring when carried.
    She is about five months old now and I need to find the way to change this behaviour.
    Please, if you had any suggestion for us, we will really appreciate it.
    Thank you

  28. I really need some advice regarding redirected aggression. I have two cats who have always gotten along well. They are indoors only and I have bird feeders on my patio to attract birds, rabbits and squirrels and my cats love watching them. Unfortunately, all the wildlife also attracts other cats. Last week there was a strange cat on the patio, right up by the door looking in. My six year old cat started hissing at my two year old cat and then the two year old was stalking her, cornering her and keeping her from the litter box. I have them separated now and am trying to reintroduce them by site swapping and feeding by the door. It is not going well. I keep reading that when I feed them there should be a person with each cat, offering praise and encouragement. I am having several problems. My six year old does not eat much when stressed, so she is not guaranteed to come to the door and eat. I live by myself and there is no one who can help so I can only be with one of them at a time. This also means that one cat or the other is left by their self. The two year old meows non stop when she is the one left alone. This makes it very difficult to get any sleep which is causing me to feel very stressed out. They both used to sleep in my bedroom with me and now I am taking turns with which one has to be shut out at night. So all three of us are very unhappy right now. How can I make this work when there is only one of me? I will not even consider re-homing either of them, but any other suggestions are appreciated. Thank you in advance for any help!

    • You may need to slow your introduction process down a bit, Carol. I know it’s very stressful to do this when it’s just you. If the feeding step doesn’t work for you, then skip that step. use some high value treats instead if that works, but otherwise keep going with the site swapping, scent swapping, and spending time with each cat as much as you can.

      • It’s been about six weeks now. There has been progress but I’m starting to feel very hopeless about the two of them ever being able to co-exist. I was able to get them to a point where they would eat treats by the door and the food dishes were kept by the door while I have been continuing site swapping. I tried a baby gate with a towel draped over it, exposing only an inch or so at the bottom, but even though I bought the tallest gate I could find, 31 inches, my cat Ellie had jumped over it within about 10 seconds. So I started holding the door open about an inch. This past week I have tried having them supervised in the same room for short periods of time and there have been no fights but Sookie does hiss when Ellie gets close. Ellie does back down, which is progress, but she keeps coming back and stalking Sookie. Ellie guards the stairs, blocking access to the upper floor, but this is nothing new. Sookie used to just step over her but is now afraid of her. I have been playing with both of them several times per day in an attempt to drain their energy. Ellie never does wear out and I’m not able to spend 24 hours per day trying to distract her with toys. I have been on vacation this week and thought it would be a good time to try more time together, up to about 12 hours. There were no fights and still some hissing from Sookie but I saw her grooming Ellie three different times, they ate treats together and there we no fights for food. The problem now is that Ellie is blocking Sookie’s access to the litter boxes. I now have them in four different parts of the house, both downstairs and upstairs, and she goes as far as laying in them to keep Sookie out. Sookie seems to prefer the upstairs litter boxes but as soon as she tries to head upstairs Ellie chases her. I have found that Sookie will not use the downstairs litter box at all and will not use the upstairs litter box either unless there is a closed door separating her from Ellie. The rest of the time she is holding it and I am concerned that she is going to develop bladder and bowel problems. She is already starting to have constipation issues. I’ve been avoiding taking her to the vet, because that will add to her stress. I understand that Ellie is territorial and insecure about it but am at a loss for what else I can do. I have 4 cat trees, 1 scratcher and 4 wall perches on my first floor which is a great room. The office has two trees. There is a scratcher in the upstairs hall. The bedroom has 3 trees and a scratcher. I feel like I have no choice but to keep them separated all the time. I still do not want to re-home either of them. I love both of them but it is hard to avoid feeling like Ellie is the problem. I don’t want to feel this resentment towards her but it is getting very hard not to. Can you offer any other advice on how I can get Ellie to feel secure so that she will leave Sookie alone? They used to get along just fine so I’m sure she does not understand why Sookie wants nothing to do with her now. As you can probably tell, I am reaching the limit of what I can handle. I know the cats will pick up on my distress, but it’s become very hard to deal with this on my own. Any advice or encouragement is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

        • I’m so sorry, Carol – I had hoped for better news. It’s incredibly stressful to deal with this, and you’re absolutely right, it’s hard to not let the cats feel your distress. It sounds like you’re doing everything right. I would consider bringing in a cat behaviorist at this point. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can highly recommend Mikel Delgado and Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations. Please keep us updated.

          • Finally some good news! It took another week or so but I have finally been able to leave the bedroom door open and everything is back to normal except for the extra litter boxes around the house, but I can live with that. Thank you for your support and encouragement through this difficult processes.

          • Carol, I’m so pleased to read this update on your cats. I have been dealing with this for a week with two of my cats who previously got along very well. It’s so heartbreaking but your last post gives me hope. It may take a lot of time, but there is hope.

          • Hi Ashley. I understand how distressing it is when this happens. It took my cats a little over two months, but they are now back to being friends. Don’t give up hope

  29. We have one cat with this aggressive behavior, we adopted her not knowing her behavior,almost 5 years ago. A while after that we brought her to our Vet, who had us do pheromones, and we tried chemical medication also. She has gotten better, but not like a normal kitty,unable to pick up,limited petting. We both have been on antibiotics a couple of times. We found physical activity helps , play ball she runs and catches the ball, loves to walk outside on harness and leash ,we have worked very hard with her. We also take her up to our cottage at the beach and on other trips which she loves.This year a feral cat has been around, up at the cottage , she has started this angry snorting, which she never did. All the other hissing, making like dragon noises etc she has done. But this angry snorting , nasty acting cat who is again actively attacking us especially me , is new .I think we will have to start the pheromone again. Any suggestions would be helpful.

  30. Hi again – we are now going into week 5 of our 2 best friend kitties, who were rescued together 2 years ago, having to be separated. Apparently due to a case of redirected aggression. My question is this: has ANYONE ever gotten through a situation like this successfully, such that the kitties resume their close friendship? I could really use some hope with this, as its heartbreaking. Thanks.

    • Hi Sue,
      I am so sorry you are going through this – I went through the same thing about a year ago this month and unfortunately, my two cats who were brother and sister, have had to be kept separated this whole time! It’s now just become a lifestyle we are used to and I am not sure they will ever get along again. I have tried the plug ins that are supposed to calm cats and those didn’t do much. I haven’t tried the calming food yet because it’s so much more expensive.
      I really hope that when we move, I can reintroduce them again in a new environment and maybe that will be the thing that brings them back together!
      I wish you all the luck – I know how hard this is! <3

  31. A turtle wandered into our yard, the next day my cat saw it from outside the window. She was watching it intrested on what it was…I go outside to feed the turtle and I showed her that the turtle is a friend…she hissed at it. Told her no that it was ok, she continued to his. I came back in the house and washed my hand petted her and she was gine. I picked her up…she was still ok. 20 minutes go by and she sits there as I pass, I decided to pet her little head and she starts hissing and growling at me. I told her no its ok it’s just me. She attacked me! I have 2 holes in my thumb now. As the night went on I tried to see if she was ok…nope she continued to hiss and growl at me like I’m a threat to her. The next day I came home from work and she was fine, let me put on her collar, licked my hand and let me pet her…I let her out of my room and she went back to hissing at me if I got near. I’m just heart broken because she thinks I’m going to hurt her. I just don’t know what to do. Should I have not showed her the reptile or what…please any advice would help

    • I would give her a couple of extra days to calm down, Alicia. Keep her in a separate room and minimize interaction with her. Sometimes it can take several days for cats to settle down after an incident of redirected aggression.

  32. We are currently on Day 10 of dealing with an apparent case of redirected aggression between our 2 rescued females. They were rescued together 2 years ago, and have always gotten along great, slept snuggled up to each other, etc. We are guessing a stray cat was in our yard, and that created the redirected aggression. We’ve kept the girls separated ever since, been using Feliway, rotate the space they occupy, etc. We try to feed them on both sides of a closed door. However, as soon as the smaller (and victim?) kitty sniffs or sees the other kitty’s paw under the (closed) door, she immediately hisses, which then causes the other kitty to start deep growling and hissing as well. Is there anything else I can do to help my girls get along? This is just so heartbreaking. Thanks for any advice.

    • I know it’s heartbreaking, Sue. Unfortunately, the only advice I can offer is to give this more time. If you haven’t talked to your vet already, you may want to discuss medication with him or her. It may help temporarily and facilitate the re-introduction process.

  33. I have a 3 year old male indoor cat, since he was 3 months old. We live in a third floor apartment, with a balcony, which is his space. Yesterday we were hanging out in the morning, I was making breakfast and he had just finished drinking his little bit of milk, when he suddenly saw something out the window and climbed the table. That has happened before. I went to take him off, as I do probably every day, when he just went completely nuts and managed to hook his nail to the inside of my nose!! Long story short, I ended up doing a quick trip to the hospital. My cat sent me to the hospital. I still can’t believe it!! I also have a very large cut on my arm, that happened when I was trying to get his claw out of my nose.
    I’m still surprised by this. He hasn’t come in since the incident, but now that I see it from this perspective, it all makes sense.

  34. Hi, I appreciate the comments noted. I have a 6 yr old, male cat who is an indoor cat and has always been inside. Had him since he was 6-7 weeks old. He has his own room where the litter box and food are. He is the only animal in the house. Yesterday, he was spooked when a box fell from a shelf, full of some papers I was going to discard. Box toppled over and bumped his food bowl a bit, but didn’t empty it. He came running into the room to see what happened. It scared him, I’m sure. Then, in an instant, he started attacking me, bit and scratched me very badly. Got bruises and some wounds on legs and arms. He didn’t stop so I had to rush out of the room and shut the door to keep him from hurting me more. After several hours, I went to the door of the closed room he is in to check on him. I talked through the door and slowly started to open it. He was hissing and snarling again at me and acted like he was going to attack again. So I shut the door and left him alone for another several hours, giving him time to calm down. He cannot see outside since blinds are barely open, so that isn’t the issue. He just needs to calm down. I can’t get into the room to remove the papers on the floor that spooked him, or to refresh his food yet. Today, after he has been in the room overnight, I tried to open door again to talk to him and feed him. He seemed okay for a moment, but when I started to open the door slowly, he started his growling again. Now, I’m afraid to try and go in, thinking he will attack again. I understand there can be stress for cats at times, with different things going on, but there are no loud voices, etc., taking place in the house so not sure what to do. As others stated, their cats were calm and all of a sudden they attack when something scares them or whatever.
    Is there something I can do to help calm him down since I cannot get into the room yet? I’ll wait until later in the day to check again. I don’t want him to hurt me again, or others if they are here. I feel there is still food in the room, but not sure how or when I can get in to refresh it.
    I also called my vet and left word to call me back, before sending this. But after reading several of these comments, it helped me see the same thing happens to others also. Thanks for any feedback.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you, Susan. There probably isn’t much you can do except wait for him to calm down. It can sometimes take a couple of days for a cat to calm down after an episode like that, and of course, the fact that the trigger (the box and the papers) is still in the room makes things more complicated. If your vet can’t offer any suggestions, you may want to consider consulting with a feline behaviorist. If you can’t find anyone local to you, I can recommend Mikel Delgado, Daniel Quagliozzi Both offer remote consultations.

      • Hello again. Wanted to send an update on my male, indoor cat who attacked me recently when some papers fell on floor. It took several days for him to calm down in his room. He has been much better now. I’m very careful though, so nothing spooks him again. The wounds he caused are just now getting healed. I’ll see how things go. Thanks to your reply, along with our vet’s info, hopefully he will be ok.

  35. A while ago I had left a comment re redirected aggression by my cat. Well yesterday, there were 2 street cats fighting on the street in front of our house and as can well imagine, cats literally scream and screech. Well my cat got stressed out after a few seconds and started screaming (the same when she used to attack me) and started hissing at my other cat. The poor thing was terrified and I was even more scared. Thank goodness I was not next to my cat when she got in a state of rage as she would have viciously attacked me. I stood still till she calmed down and then I went out of the house and slept at my sister’s. The thing is that she’s on calming food but after last night the episodes are becoming unpredictable. I cannot be scared in my own home just because there’s another cat outside my door.

    i have consulted different vets and all said that my cat is healthy. I won’t give her up for adoption since I would not wish that she attacks another owner. Moreover, there is no option of putting her down since as I said, she’s a healthy cat.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.


    • If your two cats are fighting as a result of this episode, separate them and slowly and gradually re-introduce them to each other. If it’s just the one cat that’s getting worked up, you may need to confine her in a quiet room for a few days to give her a chance to completely settle down. You’re also going to want to deter the outside cats from coming near your house. You may also want to work with a feline behaviorist.

      • Thank you for the reply.

        The cats are not fighting as a result. The cat that’s getting worked up starts hissing at my other cat but after she realizes that he’s a friend and not a foe she ignores him. What worries me is that if I’m the one next to her and not the other cat, she attacks me, as had happened before. One time it took around a month for her to settle down.

        Moreover, I do not have any control on preventing other cats from coming near my house as I have an open driveway. Whenever I’m alone at home I’m constantly worrying that I might frighten the cat and as a result attacks me. Certain noises trigger her behavior.

        • I think you should consider working with a feline behaviorist or a vet well-versed in feline behavior, Steph. I totally understand that you can’t continue to live in fear of your cat!

  36. Hi! I have a one year old inside cat who has recently been attcking my family members. He has started to bite people when they are petting him. The most recent attack was tonight. He attacked my sister’s face and left her right cheek with deep punctures and on her left side he scratched her ear and her scalp. He’s always been a well-behaved cat since we got him as a kitten. My mom was saying it might be because I’ve been keeping him inside the house and not letting him out as much as I used to. Could that be the reason? Also does being pregnant have any affect of him?

  37. I have three cats, I’ve had all three since they were babies and they are all 4 years old. My husband woke me up in the middle of the night yelling two of the cats are ripping each other up. I ran downstairs with him. The aggressor (4 year old female) ran back upstairs. I went to the basement where the defensive cat (4 year old male) was hiding in the rafters. He was growling and screaming at me, so I left him alone. I asked my husband what happened and he said the female saw a tom cat on the front porch so he ran the tom cat off and then the male meowed in the basement and she ran down there and started fighting him (from what my husband said it was horrible, he thought she was going to kill him *she’s 3 lbs heavier than he is and naturally more aggressive). Now my male cat is hiding in the basement and growls when you come near. It breaks my heart that he’s so scared. I know I should leave him alone, but its so hard, I just want to comfort him. Do you think we will have peace in our home again or is this going to be a problem now?

    • I know this is extremely distressing, Carissa. The good news is that you know what caused the episode, so you can prevent it from happening again. You’re going to have to leave your male alone. Keep him confined and away from your female for at least a few hours or longer in a quiet, darkened space to give him a chance to calm down. Don’t interact with him except to give him food and water. You may need to reintroduce the two cats slowly and gradually as if they had never met once he calms down. In the meantime, take precautions to prevent the stray cat from coming near your porch again and/or block off view of the porch.

  38. Hello!!! I really need help! My cat is 3 years old. And yesterday we neutered him. A year ago he attack me with injury bcz of his kitten. I had male and femal cat. Female one got pregnant. When we were givin away the last kitten. He was meowing all the time so my male car thought we r harming him and he attacked me. Then somehow everything was ok. So 3 days ago, my husband while coming home stepped on a urin of a stray cat beside out home. When he entered my male cat (we only now have one cat) start to go crazy sniffing everywhere and then run behind my husband and try to attack him. We were locked in a room for a day bcz everytime we try to open and look at him he was hissing and giving crazy sound!!! So next day we took him to vet (it was so not easy to catch him) i was rrally afraid he will hurt me again like last year. But we got him. At the vet they neutered him and got him collar that keeps him calm. A day pass he was fine and recovering from the surgery. Where again this morning he shout that crazy sound and hissing at my husband again!!! The vet said it will take few weeks till the testesterone to lower down. He is ok with me but not ok with my husband. I love my cat and there is no way i want to give him away!! I just need guide of what to do!

    • It can sometimes take days for a cat to calm down after an episode of redirected aggression. Since you know the trigger (the cat urine your husband stepped in) I would keep your cat in a separate room for a day or two. Interact very little with him during that time. When you do, just leave food, maybe speak quietly if he seems calm, and then leave the room. In the meantime, thoroughly clean any areas in your home where your husband might have tracked the scent of the outside cat’s urine in your home. Use an enzyme based product to get rid of all traces of scent. Once you feel that your cat has calmed down, allow him access to the rest of your house again. I hope this helps.

      • I am keeping him closed in one room. And all what he needs is available food, cold water, his litter box, toys to play. With me he is ok. I pet him and he cuddles. When i close the room he starts to cry and burning my heart bcz he feels jailed (( he scratch the door trying to come out.

  39. My female cat Pumpkin will be 2 at the end of this month. She’s never acted aggressively towards me, but today was entirely different.
    I was at my computer desk, and she jumped up on top like normal, but a minute or two later, she seemed to be startled by something. I went to pick her up and put her back on the floor, but she clamped down on my hand with all of her nails and left a good sized gash in the palm of my hand.
    I immediately started sobbing because she scared me so much and my hand really hurt. She hid while I cleaned myself up, but tried to nuzzle me later when I was sitting on the floor. I told her ‘no’ and pushed her away because I was still upset. A few hours after that, I was ready to forgive her, but she ran away when I tried to pet her. I think she knows that I was mad at her.
    Does anyone know what could have caused her earlier reaction in the first place? I don’t have another cat and she couldn’t see out of a window where she was? Any comments would be great.

    • Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to tell what caused these incidents. It could have been an unusual noise or scent that set her off. Give her time to settle down. In addition to the incident, she may have been confused by you pushing her away when she tried to nuzzle you. I’m hoping that by the time you read this, this will have blown over. If not, give her more time to cool off, possibly by putting her in a room by herself for a few hours if you can do so safely, or by leaving the house for a few hours. I wouldn’t try to pick her up until you can be sure she’s completely back to normal.

  40. I’m sure you’ve probably covered this, but I have to ask anyway! My Francis is almost 3 and he’s neutered. I got him when he was 6-8 weeks old, he was feral with no mother identified. He was living under a trailer in a local towns trailer park. We’ve lived in the same house ever since we’ve been together. I adore him, to a point that my daughter gets jealous lol. The people who moved across the street from us have an outdoor cat, and she’s so sweet and friendly! Francis hasn’t been outside since I’ve had him, and while I was out checking the mail, I left only the storm door open. He likes to look outside. That’s never been a problem before, except for today. The little cat came over, and tried to go into my house. Francis was on the other side of the door, and they started hissing. Francis then reared up on his back legs, and charged at the little cat. He almost opened the heavy storm door. I backed the other cat away, and went inside. He obviously started becoming aggressive towards me. At the time I had no idea why, and I was petrified and so hurt emotionally. This is my baby cat who I love so much. I googled it, and thankfully figured out it was redirected aggression. I left him alone for awhile, and went to give him treats. He was being all lovely and affectionate, when all of a sudden he got super aggressive again. He started howling at me. I made sure he wasn’t able to see out the doors and windows before the second attack happened. I just want to know if my cat will ever be my same Doodle again, or if he’ll keep associating me with the other cat and keep attacking me. I truly love him. He’s my best boy.

    • Since I posted this 2 hours ago, he’s tried to attack me 5 more times. He doesn’t do anything to my husband, or my daughter. Every time he sees me, he starts howling. It’s breaking my heart. My husband shut him in my daughter’s room, hoping it will help. I’m the only one who’s lap he’ll sit on, I’m the only one who he lets brush him. I hope he will love me again soon.

      • I know this is extremely distressing, Nikki. The best approach is to try to safely get Doodle into a room where he can calm down. Darken the room so there’s very little stimulation, don’t interact with him for at least a few hours and preferably overnight. It can take hours or even days for cats to settle down after an episode like this.

  41. I have a kitten that knows when I am frustrated. I frequently get frustrated with my mom because she can’t hear and when I am talking on the phone to her and I have to raise my voice repeating over and over to her what I have just said. This really frustrates me, and when the kitten knows I am frustrated (depending on how badly) he comes up to my face and starts boxing me in the face. He never uses his claws but I have never seen a cat respond to frustration like that. If I am talking to my mom and trying to keep my voice low even though I am still frustrated, he can tell and comes up to my face an lightly nips my cheek. Has anyone else had this happen. I think it’s really cool because it seems as if he is getting on to me for raising my voice or getting short tempered with my mom.

    • It sounds like your kitten is very much in tune with your energy and mood, Kimberly – you two must be sharing a very special bond.

  42. I have 2 males cats. One of the cats is 12 and one is 9. I got the 9year old when he was 8 weeks old. We live in a studio apt. He has had redirected anger before when he sees other cats outside. This usually goes away after about 30 mins. Last night he freaked out when I closed the front door. I assumed that because it is finally getting warm out, he must have seen another cat. However, when I woke up this morning he was laying in his bed and hissed and howled at me when I walked by. He ran into our large back storage room. All day long, I have been going back there once every hour or two to try and give him food but he would freak out again so I just left the food on the ground. Finally, I found a vet that was open and could take him on a Sunday. I tried to get him into his kitty carrier and he viciously attacked me. I am at a loss. I don’t know what to do. My husband is out of town for work and I am scared to death. I know something is wrong with him. It’s like he’s been possessed. Any suggestions please???

    • It can take hours, and sometimes several days, for cats to calm down after an incident. The best thing you can do is keep him a separate room with food and water, and minimize interaction with him. I would also block off any windows where he can see the outside cats. Once he’s calmed down, you may want to try to take him to a vet again to rule out medical issues. You may also want to consider working with a feline behaviorist. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I know it’s terribly distressing.

    • Hi,

      I can feel your frustration and pain and it happened to me 3 times. I have tried royal canin calming food which can be bought from a vet clinic or animal pharmacy. after my cat attacked me I have fed her this calming food and it seemed to work… Once I stopped, she attacked me again after a few months. so I decided to continue with this type of food. I guess some cats are really sensitive to noise and feelings and can get stressed especially when they see you stressed out, sad or angry.

  43. Hello! I currently have two female cats, not yet fixed, that are both a little less than a year old. My older cat by a few months has always been a bit skittish because of my 7 year old sister, but the younger one has always been the sweetest thing. Lately I’ve noticed that my younger one, Leia, has been shedding a TON but still acting fine. However, being a child of a divorce, I had to take both cats to my dads house yesterday and leave them there while I was at school and then brought them back to my moms today. The older one, Rey, was fine, but Leia attacked my father which she has never done to anyone before. Then she kept acting very aggressive towards my dog as well as Rey, hissing, growling, and trying to attack them. She seemed to calm down, but after she was brought back to my moms, the aggression got even worse, to the point where my younger brother and I had to throw a towel over her to catch and seperate her from attacking the other animals and ourselves. I keep squirting her with water every time she goes to attack but I don’t know what else to do. She went from constantly purring and wanting everyone to pick her up and love on her, to an evil thing that my family if scared to be around in the span of 24 hours. Is she just stressed from moving around while being in heat or something else?

    • Most likely, being moved to your dad’s house and then bringing them back to your mom’s caused Leia to be super stressed, and unfortunately, that stress took the form of aggression. You need to keep her in a separate room and give her a chance to calm down. This may take several hours to several days. Once she’s calm, you may have to very slowly introduce her to Rev and to your dog. I urge you to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible for more help and to get both cats spayed as soon as possible.

  44. I adopted a cat that belonged to my friend who recently passed. She was spayed less than a month ago but has been so friendly and was getting along with my 2 other male cats I felt we would live happily ever after. Until 1 week ago, when we had a little tiff between 2 of my cats, I yelled , and she attacked me. This moment was short lived and everything went back to normal until today. Again playing got a little out of hand, i went to look and not yell and was attacked again and spent most of 3 hours locked behind closed doors because her attacks. I finally got her into a cage, my family wants me to take her to the pound but it is breaking my heart. Any thoughts, I want to give her a chance at a good life and I fear even with adoption she will never get one.

    • I’m so sorry this happened to you, Dottie. I would recommend working with your vet and/or a feline behaviorist. In the meantime, keep her in a room separate from your two male cats, and keep interactions with her to a minimum until she has calmed down.

    • I felt heartbroken too and still do. I made mine an outdoor cat instead of taking him to the pound and handing him a death sentence. Some say that outdoor life is horrible but cats are designed to hunt. He sleeps on my porch and I feed him. My attack was brutal and it was the second time. I’ll do my best for him while he resides outdoors but he cannot come in again, just can’t take the chance of that being my face or one of my small dogs faces

  45. Ok so my house is like this… My room on one end of the house then i have to walk through the living room to get anywhere. Its small and my cat hides by the table and always waits for me to walk by to try and attack. She usually stops before the attack as long as i make it known that ive seen her as shes running at me but tonight the light was off and when she jumped at me she started biting and scratching a lot and not hissing but like when a cat is in a fight the way they meow or if you accendently step on their tail or something she started doing that like she was really trying to hurt me? Whats that about she doesnt go outside i cant see how she would be sick, there have been no changes at all around my house, i play with her in the correct ways, no loud noises nothing that doesnt happen and hasnt happened literally everyday.. So whats up with this?

    • It’s possible that the fact that the light was off caused the stronger attack reaction as it was different from the usual pattern. Since you know the table seems to trigger the behavior, you may want to consider removing it, even if it’s only for a while. Alternately, toss a toy into the room before you walk in to distract her before she can get ready to attack.

  46. my cat first attacked me when we moved to our new house a year ago. a month after we moved, I started noticing that she was stressing out as she was shedding a lot of fur. She attacked me twice and both attacks happened with triggers like switching on the tap or closing the garbage lid. the attacks were traumatic since the cat didn’t stop running after me until I found the closest door and got out. she tore my clothes and my body was scratched all over. we consulted 3 different vets and we introduced calming food and sprays and after a few weeks we also got a kitten which also helped a lot. she was back to normal, loving and relaxed.

    Now a year after, just yesterday in fact, I was at home and accidentally stepped on the other cat’s paw (the kitten), my senior cat got scared and attacked my legs and feet! and again it was traumatizing. from the first 2 attacks it took me a month to learn to trust her again and now exactly a year after she did again for no reason! i consulted different vets, and putting her down is not an option. also I don’t wish to put her up for adoption as she might attack others. Any help please?

    • I’m so sorry, Stephanie, it’s so distressing when this happens. It sounds like she’s triggered by unusual (to her) noises, and in yesterday’s incident, it was probably your kitten yelping that triggered the attack. You may want to consider working with a feline behaviorist, and you may also want to discuss medication with your vet. It can make a big difference for highly reactive cats like yours. Also, keep in mind that it can take a few days for her to completely settle again after this attack. The good news for you, and I know it’s probably hard to see it that way, is that she did settle down after the initial incident, so there’s no reason to believe she can’t recover from this one.

      • Thank you for the reply. The problem is that my younger cat didn’t even yelp, he just moved out of the way. the cat’s attacks are so unpredictable. one day she’s sleeping next to me and constantly rubbing against my feet and the next day she just attacked me for stepping on the other cat’s paw. I’m afraid I cannot trust her again after the last attack. we are considering the option of leaving her outside in the garden and refurbish the shed to a more comfortable room. Now I am to threatened to be alone with her in the house. even the younger cat go scared and went to hide.

        • I definitely feel for you. I also have a cat that attacks unpredictably… one time she bit me hard on the leg simply because my dog was whining to get out of his kennel and it stressed her out. When my husband tried to help me by removing the cat from the room, she bit him too. We both ended up having to go to the hospital because the bite wounds became infected. One time she attacked me because I tripped and fell and it stressed her out. I had to go to the hospital after that attack as well because the bite wound became infected. We don’t know what to do with her. Like you, we don’t find putting her down to be an option. Right now, she lives in a spare bedroom in our house and my husband spends a little bit of time with her each day. It’s not an ideal solution, but I’m afraid she’ll bite us again or that she’ll attack our dog.

  47. Hello, I have just recently adopted a new cat (male) 3 days ago, I also have another male cat. they accidentally met yesterday and were not happy but were immediately separated. I will also mention that the new cat has a lovely affectionate personality but today has lashed out for no reason at all and has attacked 2 members of my family right after being affectionate. Could the worry of another cat in the house of caused this? Thanks.

    • I suspect that the new cat’s attacks were a delayed reaction to the accidental meeting yesterday, although it’s not always possible to identify the trigger in these situations.

  48. I recently moved into a apartment with my boyfriend and his two kids 6 and 4 come over on the weekends. My cat was being fostered with some close friends for the last 6 months and she was just reunited with me. This last month she seems content, plays
    with kids, gets a ton of love and purring all the time. The other day she lashed out at the kids (they were not paying any attention to her at the time). The 6 year old was brushing his teeth in the bathroom where we keep the litter box. She was meowing at the door and my boyfriend opened the door thinking she needed to go to the bathroom to instead start hissing at the child. He scolded her and she ran out and then aggressively attacked the 4 years and scratched her pretty good in her arm and butt. It was a traumatizing situation for all of us. I put a calming collar on the kitty and we finally got her in our room and closed the door. Not sure what triggered the attack but I have a big concern since the kids are feeling threatened and scarred of her now. Advice welcome! Thank you

    • Unfortunately, it’s often not possible to identify the trigger when it comes to redirected aggression. It’s possible that she felt threatened by the closed door or a scent. It’s also possible that she saw something outside a window that had nothing to do with the child or your boyfriend. I suspect that stress played a part, too. She’s probably still getting used to the new apartment, and having the kids over may have been too much change all at once.

  49. I was petting my cat when he, a indoor cat maybe a year or two old, attacked me and when i put him outside of my room jumped at my hand by the light switch. Then he hissed at me and reared back. whats going on?

      • I will not live anymore with a 12 year old cat that attacks me and my grandchildren! I came very close to shooting her after an attack this morning. She has to go!

        • I understand how distressing this is, Amy. If you are really at the end of your rope, and if working with your vet and/or a behaviorist has not improved the situation, please take your cat to a veterinarian or shelter for a humane euthanasia.

  50. Hi! I am currently trial fostering two male cats that are unrelated but best pals. The older 4.5 Year old has not been successful in finding a home because of his biting problem. I’m his 7th home. What seems to be the issue is that if he is startled, he will come and chomp down on you. I’ve seen a picture of the injury of one previous owner and it was pretty terrible. It caused the shelter to have his canines removed I guess to lessen the damage on flesh when he attacks. I just dropped a pair of scissors on my wooden floor and he ran over to give me my first bite. What I did immediately was to firmly grab his scruff, not too hard and not lifting him or anything. He loosened his jaws on my arm and I held his scruff for a little bit until I felt he was ok. I also said a firm NO at the same time. After I let go he was fine, I told him he was ok and he was back to his love bug self, purring and rubbing on me. Was my response appropriate? Do I need to be worried that the attacks may be more severe in the future? I’m just concerned about running a blow dryer or something like that. I don’t really often use loud appliances like that, but I’m wondering if there is a way to do like an exposure therapy with him to help reassure him? If this is what I have to deal with, even though it is quite painful, I don’t feel it’s a reason to give up on him. Thanks!

    • With some cats, desensitization therapy will work. For loud noises, you’d start by recording the noise, then playing it at a very low volume and for a very short period of time. If he’s okay with it, reward him with a treat. Gradually increase the volume and length of time, but back up if you notice signs of stress.

      Be very careful about handling him when he’s in attack mode. While scruffing him may work, I don’t recommend it as you’re risking additional injury to yourself if you can’t manage to grab him on the first try.

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