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Home Pet Q&A Cat Questions Why Do Cats Suddenly Attack Their Owners?

Why Do Cats Suddenly Attack Their Owners?

There are many possible reasons why cats suddenly attack their owners including misguided play, a show of dominance, fear, or a medical issue. The good news is that, with time and patience, the issue can usually be corrected.

Dealing with an Aggressive Cat 

While a cat doesn't apply the same lethal force as a large dog, their attacks can be scary, painful, and leave their owners bloody. In other words: Cats attacking their owners isn't something that can be ignored. The first step in correcting the behavior is discovering the cause. Possible reasons include:

Misguided Play

Cats and kittens love to play, and they need to be taught what kind of play is acceptable and what kind is not. Make sure your cats have plenty of toys, and toss new toys into the mix on a regular basis so your cats won't get bored. 


When a cat is afraid or stressed out, they may attack just because they don't know what else to do. One way to help your cat deal with fear is to make sure they have access to a place that makes them feel safe. This may be a perch atop a kitty condo, an enclosed bed, or even access to a rarely used room. If their fear seems extreme, consult a vet for advice.

You're the Prey 

Cats are hunters. It's a natural instinct. This is similar to play, but look at it more like practice. They are honing their skills for when they are ready to chase their next insect or rodent. Encourage them to stalk other items, such as the dot from a laser pointer or a toy mouse tied to a string. Redirecting this behavior may help to turn their attention to their toys, rather than your legs, the next time they want to practice hunting.

Medical Issues 

If your typically docile cat is suddenly aggressive, there is a good chance that a medical issue is to blame. When cats are in pain, they often show signs of aggression. If you suspect this may be the cause, a visit to the vet should be a priority.

There Is Hope 

 If you can pinpoint the cause of a cat suddenly attacking their owner, a resolution can often be found either on your own or with the help of a vet or animal behaviorist. This isn't usually behavior that will go away on its own, so deal with the issue head on as soon as possible for the best results. 

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