Why an Older Cat Starts Biting One Person Only

Even your older kitty can bare her teeth and bite someone.
i Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Your sweet older feline rubs up against you and other family members, purring and loving the attention she gets. When that one family member tries it, he gets bitten for all his troubles. He may be feeling targeted when the cat’s natural instincts are to blame.

Cat Aggression

Cat personalities are as varied as human personalities. Add to this your fur baby's natural instinct for self-protection, which makes her just like every other cat in the world—even though she’s an older cat. She still wants to protect herself.

She can’t tell you verbally when to back off, so she resorts to one of the best weapons she has—her sharp little teeth. Even when you and the family member who is always being bitten can’t figure out why it’s happening, a little bit of detective work can help you figure out where your family feline is coming from.

Pain or Illness

Your older fur baby can get sick or develop painful conditions, just as you can. When that one person tries to touch her on a part of her body that hurts—she’s going to reach out and bite because she can’t say, “Ouch!” If she’s a previously friendly kitty, this could signal a medical problem. Call your vet and get your older cat in for a physical.

Fear Aggressiveness

Kitty aggressiveness toward one human that is caused by fear is going to be harder to correct, especially if you’ve recently adopted an older kitty. The unhappy target will need to pull back and allow your kitty to get to know him on her own terms—meaning you’ll need to take it slow and easy.

Use treats and your feline baby’s own hunger to help her get over her fear of your family member. Ask him to hold your kitty’s treats and allow your fur baby to approach him. Be patient, because it may take several weeks for trust to develop.

Petting Overstimulation

Maybe your kitty does allow that one family member to approach and pet her. Unfortunately, he may be missing her nonverbal communications to get his hands off her because she’s had too much stimulation—because of which she whirls and sinks her teeth into him. Poor guy. He may feel horrible and picked on.

However, the solution for this kind of kitty aggression is simple. Tell your family member to look for tail-twitching, growling, changing position, skin rippling and ear-flicking, which are your kitty’s ways of saying, “Hands off!” Your family member may also want to stroke only your kitty’s head for the time being.

Neurological Issues/Dementia

Your beloved kitty can develop dementia, just like an older human. Yes, it’s scary. Some kind of neurological condition or senile dementia, which is also called cognitive dysfunction syndrome, can cause your cat to go through a personality change.

From a formerly friendly, loving little girl, you now have an aggressive kitty that bites only one member of your family. This happens because she is forgetting who that person is and what role he played throughout her life. Sadly, feline dementia is not curable, but its symptoms can be controlled. Once you and your vet have determined that this is the cause of your companion's strange new behavior, work with the vet (and your cat!) to make life easier. Medication may help; so may making food and water and the litter box easier to find for a forgetful kitty. Maybe she needs your help to keep herself properly groomed. If you make her more comfortable, life may improve for everyone in your household.

the nest