Why Do Tame Cats Turn Violent?

Even though he's small, he has an armory of sharp teeth and claws at his disposal.
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Your furry friend is normally sweet and adores his cuddles. But now and then, he turns into a ball of terror, taking full advantage of his arsenal of sharp teeth and claws. Kitty isn't possessed, there are several reasons why your normally tame pal may attack.

Other Cats

It's possible that another cat in your home is bullying your little pal. Sometimes the signs of aggression between cats is subtle and you may not notice until they break out into a full-on fight. If you have a larger cat in the house, he may puff up and assert his dominance over the little guy. If you don't get them neutered, two males could begin to fight over their territory or a potential lady love. Your cats are more likely to tangle for rank when they're around 2 to 4, when they reach full maturity. Bringing a new kitty into the fold can also trigger Kitty's anger if he sees the newcomer as invading his territory.


When Kitty gets scared, his first response will usually be to run away. When running away isn't an option, he may attack. If you're holding him trying to trim his nails for the first time, he may become frightened and flip out. He'll become angry, frantically trying to scratch or bite you just to get away. This doesn't mean he doesn't love you, it just means he's frightened. Once he calms down, he should go back to his friendly self. As soon as you hear growling, see pinned back ears or hear a hiss, put him down and give him some space.

Redirected Anger

Sometimes Kitty seems to lash out for no apparent reason at all. This is because Kitty may be experiencing a delayed reaction to something that upset him earlier. Perhaps he saw a dog while bird watching and it made him really angry. You go to pet him and he hisses and bites you, leaving you victim to Kitty's wrath. The reaction could be immediate, or as long as hours after the aggravating incident occurred. Again, this doesn't mean Kitty is evil or he's decided he doesn't like you. The reaction is just a reflex without any forethought on Kitty's part.


Kitty's fur and skin are sensitive to touch, which is usually why he enjoys being petted so much. However, from time to time the attention may become too much, and he'll get upset. He may be happily purring, when he turns and bites or scratches you. He could be hypersensitive, and can only stand so mach petting before it becomes painful for him. Static electricity can also build up during a petting session, leading the poor little guy to get a jolt.

Pain and Illness

If Kitty is in pain, this could make him grumpy. Arthritis or a bad toothache could cause Kitty to lash out when you try to handle him. Some diseases can also lead to behavioral changes, making Kitty suddenly aggressive. Rabies, hyperthyroidism and kidney disease are just some of the illnesses that can make Kitty become aggressive. Treating the disease can help Kitty return to his old self. If Kitty's behavior has suddenly become aggressive when he was mild-mannered before, he should visit his vet for a checkup.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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