close up of a tabby cat aggressively gnawing at owners hand

Why Does My Cat Attack Me And No One Else?

Why does my cat attack me and no one else? Could be due to a variety of reasons including play, pain, dominance display, or some other communication. Read on to learn more…

Cats are familiar to most people as some of the most lovable (and beloved) animals on the entire earth. Any cat owner will tell you that their cats are just the cutest thing in the world – and usually, they’ll have pictures to show anyone who asks just to prove their point!

But sometimes, cats can display weird behaviors that don’t make a lot of sense to their owners.

One of these behaviors is when cats attack their owners. It might be something they do only to their owners – and the very same cats might start purring and rubbing against guests in your space as if nothing has happened. Owners end up asking why does my cat attack me and no one else?

Cats might attack their owners for play-fighting but might also display angrier attacking behavior when play fighting turns into something else.

Cats might also attack their owners at random, almost like naughty children with a sudden impulse to do something they are not supposed to.

Sometimes, cats might also display attacking behavior that’s far more aggressive than this. This can necessitate taking your cat to a vet, especially if your pet has never shown an inclination to bite or scratch before. In this case, it might indicate a physical condition – and could be a sign that your cat is in pain.

close up of a badass tabby cat snarling at an unseen foe

Have you noticed that your cat scratches, bites at, or attacks you – but the same cat is fine with everyone else? Do you have any other attacking-related questions about your cats? 

Here’s what cat owners should know about why their cats might be displaying attacking behavior – and what they can do to stop it before it becomes a problem.

Cats And Attacking Behaviors

Domestic Cats (And What They Do) 

Domestic cats were wild animals for a long time before they decided to match up with people and live together with them as their pets. Cat owners should always remember this fact first and foremost when they are trying to decode something new (or something strange) that their felines might be doing. 

Attacking their owners at random is just one strange behavior that pet owners might notice in their cats.

Cats might also attack inanimate objects, or attack things that belong to their owner. Then, cats might also attack other cats (usually as part of a small disagreement over territory).

How do you know what on earth your cat is really doing? 

Watch other signs, symptoms, and behaviors that your cat might be displaying at the same time. Cats might attack things as part of their simple play-fighting routine which all kittens and cats go through, but cats might also be trying to display dominance or be in pain.

Unless an owner is able to identify several behaviors from their cat or see the behavior in the proper context, why your cat is attacking you (or doing anything else) might be hard for an owner to decode.

Always assess your cat’s overall behavior if they are doing something new or strange.

Why Does My Cat Attack Me (And No One Else)?

angry looking cat staring at a bare foot

There are several reasons why cats might choose to attack their owners. Sometimes, the cause of the attacking behavior is more serious than others – and as already mentioned, you’ll have to look at any general things your cat might be doing to figure out why or what.

#1: Your Cat Is Playing

Cats could be attacking their owners as a form of play fighting or hunting. This is a type of behavior that cats in the wild will display, too, and it usually means no harm to anyone else in the group.

Play-fighting happens as a form of teaching within nature (and between cats and their kittens). When cats do this, it’s a form of endearment, but can also go too far when cats “forget” their strength.

Discourage rough forms of playing, especially in new cats and smaller kittens who are still adapting to the rest of the household. When cats play, they might push the game too far in the midst of the excitement.

#2: Your Cat Is Indicating Something

Cats can be very deliberate in their actions. Any cat owner will immediately know what this means in the context of their cat.

Sometimes, a displeased or annoyed cat will engage in behavior that deliberately irritates its owner. This is something they do to get your attention. They might gently bite you when you pet them to indicate they have had enough attention.

If your cat swipes at you when they have never done anything like this before, try to figure out if there is anything your cat might be trying to tell you.

It might be anything from distaste for their food to anger at the smell of your shampoo. Yes, it can happen.

cat crouching with paw raised about to attack an incoming hand

#3: Your Cat Is In Pain

Cats cannot talk about their feelings, symptoms, or emotions the same way that humans can – especially when they are feeling sick or ill. When cats experience pain, they might show it in ways that are not obvious to their owners at first (and the same is often true for bigger cats in the wild or captivity).

If your cat seems angry, irritated, or growls/bites when they are touched, it might be their way of indicating that they are in pain.

Cats who are in intense pain might also purr to themselves. This is a self-soothing mechanism – and usually has nothing to do with the reasons cats might normally choose to purr around their humans.

Sometimes, unusual behavior like biting their owner is the only sign that anything is wrong. Owners should always pay attention when they notice their cat seems in any way different. For this, you should see a vet as soon as possible.

#4: Your Cat Is Competing For Your Attention

Even though cats are not pack animals by nature, there are many cat breeds that require more individual attention from their owners – and these cat breeds will usually display displeasing behavior when they feel like they aren’t getting enough of it. 

If your house is home to several cats and you notice that they attack you at times, it’s another way of getting your attention. 

Much like a naughty child, your cat might be saying, “Hey! Look at me!” Random attacks that take the form of soft paw swats or gentle bites and nips are about playfulness, attention-seeking, and even affection rather than nasty aggression.

Show more attention to your cat if you suspect this is the cause. Give them treats, attention, catnip, and toys to occupy their attention.

#5: Your Cat Is Displaying Old Habits

Older cats might also bite, hiss, or attack their owners just as much as kittens might. The reasons already given in this article so far (like play-fighting) might also apply to older cats in the household and kittens.

If a cat is older but has only recently been added to your household, attacking behavior might be something they have previously learned.

For example, if their last owner played too rough, they might transfer this habit into their new home (thinking that it’s okay to do it). 

Cats can be slowly retrained to replace bad habits with new ones. All it takes is patience and time from the owner, and the slow introduction of newer, better things.

#6: Your Cat Is Trying To Dominate

Wild cats have an inherent need to show dominance over the other cats in their social group. The same behavior has been carried over to the domesticated cat – and it’s likely that you’ll see this happen in your house, especially if you have more than one in the same space.

Cats can display dominance by attacking, biting, or growling at others who frequent their space. This might include other cats, but might sometimes include their owners or visitors. 

This is common for new cats that have just been introduced into an unfamiliar space. 

Avoid rough play-fighting, and discourage any aggression that cats might display. Eventually, they are likely to settle into a more relaxed routine.

a crouched alert cat in a doorway staring at feet readying to pounce

Why Did My Cat Bite Me When I Touch Them? 

Cats might do this as part of play-fighting with their owners, as earlier explained in the article. There are other reasons why a cat might suddenly softly bite their owner when touched.

Pain is a possible reason, but sometimes the reason is much simpler. Sometimes cats just don’t feel like being touched, or the owner accidentally touched a sensitive part of their body like their stomach.

Touching the more vulnerable parts of a cat’s body can make them more inclined to show their displeasure by biting or walking away.

Yes, sometimes cats can just be in a bad mood for a day.

Why Does My Cat Seem Aggressive Or Irritated Lately? 

Cats can have bad days. But a cat that seems more irritated than usual or in a bad mood more often might need to be seen by a vet.

Stress, circumstances, or sudden changes could alter a cat’s general mood and cause them to act out in aggressive or unusual ways. Physical conditions or pain can also cause reactions outside of a cat’s normal behavior.

Have you noticed irritation or aggression from your usually normal cat?

See a vet. It could be an important indication that there is something wrong with your cat’s health.

Is My Cat Aggressive? 

What’s the difference between playing and aggression? 

Well, when cats are doing it, you’ll know.

Aggression means a cat might spit, hiss, or arch their back. Hair will stand on end, and they might bare their teeth. Some cats run away, and other cats might charge ahead instead.

If your cat is playing, they might roll over on their backs, kick, bite, or scratch – but no baring of teeth, hissing, or spitting.

Discourage rough types of playing between cats. This way, they know that “games” are appropriate (and which actions are not).

a close up of a hand with a cat scratch and a white cats paw

Can I Reduce Aggression In Kittens Or Cats? 

If your kittens or cats display signs of aggression as their general temperament (and you are sure that there is no physical or mental issue causing the behavior), distraction could be one of the most important things you can do for your cat.

Distract an aggressive cat with things like catnip, individual attention, and their own toys or blankets. Sometimes an aggressive cat might prefer to spend time on their own until they have calmed down or gotten used to their environment. If you see this, let them have their space and give them time to warm up to you. Eventually, they will.

Cats And Dominance

As part of their pack nature, cats can try to dominate things in the wild – but domesticated cats might also try to do the same when they are at home. 

Is your cat trying to find their position in the larger pack, or attacking things around them to try establish their place? 

Here are answers to the most common cats and dominance questions owners often ask.

Why Does My Cat Attack Other People? 

Cats who attack visitors, partners, or other inhabitants of the house might imagine they are competing for their owner’s attention. Giving more attention to your cat in situations where they feel the need could stop them from continuing to attack other people.

Other factors (such as perfume they just do not like) might also make them act out against others.

Why Does My Cat Attack Other Cats? 

~Cats will display aggression towards other cats who enter their territory, especially if these cats enter from the outside (e.g. the neighborhood).This is a normal part of gaining their territory, and new cats usually just take a while to find their place when they have been first introduced.

If cats attack each other within the same household, it’s a simple and normal attempt at dominance. Usually, with some changes to attention or routine, cats will adapt and settle.

When Should I See A Vet?

Any time when a cat displays behavior that an owner can’t find a reason for, can’t identify, or can’t explain as something their cat would normally do should consider making an appointment with a vet.

Biting, scratching, or other potentially unusual or aggressive behaviors could indicate many things for feline health (and they are too many to list in one article.) 

Have you ever had experiences with your cats and their biting habits?