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Why Does My Cat Attack Me & No One Else? 7 Reasons for This Behavior

There are several reasons why your cat may choose to attack you and no one else. Usually, these have to do with fear or anxiety that your cat only feels towards you for whatever reason. Even if you don’t think you’ve done anything to upset your cat specifically, felines can interpret many of our normal behaviors as threatening.

Cats that are otherwise affectionate can be suddenly scared by something, which can cause them to lash out due to fear. It isn’t that the cat is being aggressive; they’re simply trying to protect themselves from something they are scared of.

Luckily, cat scratches and bites aren’t particularly dangerous. They can be quite painful, however, which is why most pet owners would like to avoid it. With the right approach, you can eliminate this problematic behavior.


Reasons Your Cat Only Attacks You

There are many potential reasons why your cat may decide to attack you and no one else. Often, this doesn’t have anything to do with your cat simply being aggressive. Instead, they’re usually fearful or have some sort of neurological problem. We’ll take a look at all the possible reasons in this section.

1. You Spend the Most Time with the Cat

If you spend the most time with the feline and do most of the care, you’ll likely find yourself being attacked more often than other people. While your cat scratching you is never okay, if your cat does attack someone, it’s more likely to be you if you’re spending all your time with them.

This is particularly true if you commonly do things your cat doesn’t like, such as grooming. If you always do the grooming, and your cat always becomes aggressive while grooming, you’re probably going to get attacked more than anyone else in your household.

cat sleeping in owner's arms
Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock
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2. Attention

Some cats may lash out for attention. This is like the age-old saying that “any attention is good attention.” If you show your cat any sort of attention when they attack you – even bad attention -, then they may keep attacking you when they want attention.

Of course, this tends to be counter-productive, since it may make you spend less time with your feline. However, your cat doesn’t understand this. They get attention at the moment and that’s all that matters.

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3. Odors

Some odors in particular may make your cat aggressive and scared. If you smell different from the rest of your family, this could be the reason why your cat seems to single you out. For instance, if you work with animals, your cat is likely to smell them on you when you come home, which may prompt them to become fearful.

This can also happen if you work with things that smell strongly, even if it isn’t necessarily animals. If you work with perfumes, cleaning products, paints, or other building materials, the smell can overwhelm your cat’s sense and cause them to become aggressive.

owner petting a hissing angry tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock
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4. You May Pet Her Wrong

We know it sounds strange, but your cat may simply not like the way you pet her. Some cats are very particular about how they are pet. This is especially true if they have old injuries or anything like that, which may be painful when you touch them a certain way.

If you pet your cat differently from anyone else in your home, take note. Your feline may just not like the way you pet them.

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5. Overstimulation

Sometimes, when we pet our felines, we may overstimulate them. This can cause them to become defensive and strikeout. This is especially true if you pet your feline from the top of their head to the bottom of their tail. The full-body motion can be overstimulating to some felines.

a tabby cat biting owner's hand
Image Credit: Alie04, Shutterstock
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6. You’re Invading Her Space

Instead of feeling loved, your feline may feel threatened if you commonly invade her space. If your cat seems to attack you most often when you approach her, then this is a likely cause. Be sure you approach your cat correctly. Or, you may want to avoid her altogether unless she approaches you first.

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7. Fear

Sometimes, your cat may interpret something you do as scary. From that point on, they may be a bit uneasy around you until you rebuild that trust. It may even not be something particularly scary in your book. You may have simply dropped something near your kitty and the loud noise may have scared them. Or, you may have walked into a room unexpectedly and startled your feline.

Either way, your cat doesn’t put “accidental scares” in a different category from any other scares.

angry cat hissing
Image Credit: Fang_Y_M, Pixabay


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How to Prevent Cat Attacks

The first step to preventing cat attacks is to determine the cause. Different causes will have different preventative steps. We’ll go over all of these preventative steps in this article, as that you can hopefully get scratched by your cat less often.

1. Ensure Your Home is Secure & Comfortable

Any problem is likely to become worse with stress. If you work with animals, your cat is more likely to negatively react to the smell if they’re stressed out, for instance. For this reason, you should ensure that your home is as calm and secure as possible. Things we don’t find stressful can be very stressful to our felines.

Obviously, other cats in the home can stress out your feline, as can a change in routine or space. Often, you can’t get around these changes. However, you can ensure that your cat has plenty of places to hide and plenty of downtime.

a tabby cat lying on a woman's chest
Image Credit: Alek B, Pixabay
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2. Bring Down Your Energy

If you’re usually a pretty high-energy person, bring things down a few notches when you’re interacting with your cats. Don’t be unnecessarily loud or make lots of big hand movements. This can scare your cat. A scared cat is likely to act out by scratching or biting. It isn’t that you’re feline is being aggressive. They’re just trying to protect themselves from what they perceive as threats from you.

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3. Increase Playtime

Often, a worn-out cat is much happier than one bounding with energy. Ensure that your feline has plenty of time to exercise. This means leaving plenty of toys around the house, which can help ensure that your feline plays throughout the day, as well as playing with your feline directly.

The best time to play with your cat is right before bedtime, as this ensure that your feline is worn out before bed. If you don’t want your cat running around after bedtime, wearing them out can help them settle down for the night.

This is also great stress relief, so playtime is important for anxious cats as well.

One of our preferred scratchers, the Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher, is a surefire way to keep your kitty out of trouble (or at least away from scratching the things they should not!). It's not only stylish, but it's functional as well. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a durable plywood and metal frame and can be set up in three different ways – high, low, or lower. The different positions encourage maximum engagement, exercise and stretching, and of course, intense scratching (they can throw their whole body into it). 

cat in living room playing with hepper hi-lo cat scratcher while in highest position

With the Hepper Hi-Lo, your cat gets to have a blast scratching like a maniac, and you don't have to worry about them causing so much chaos or scratching your stuff. There are even replacement cardboard pieces available, so you really can let your cat go to town on this, and know that it will be long lasting. Click here to learn more about this awesome scratcher.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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4. Don’t Punish Your Cats

Punishing your cats can make them even more fearful of you, which can cause them to scratch and bit even more. Often, punishment doesn’t fix the source of the problem and can actually make everything worse. For this reason, we don’t recommend punishment under any circumstances.

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5. Visit the Vet

You may want to consider taking your cat to the vet if they suddenly become aggressive. Often, sudden behavior changes can be a sign that your feline is sick. Cats are usually fairly good at hiding their illnesses. Therefore, you usually won’t have too many hints that your cat isn’t feeling right. If you notice anything off about your feline, as you may not get many signs that your cat is sick.

The vet can rule-out any possible illnesses that may be causing your cat’s sudden defensiveness.

vet holding burma cat
Image Credit: Elpisterra, Shutterstock
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6. Take a Shower

If you work with other animals or smelly things, take a shower before you interact with your cat. She may just not like the smell, and likely doesn’t appreciate you rubbing it on her when you pet her. Even if you don’t think you work with anything smelly, your cat may not like the overwhelming smell of your workplace, which may cause her to lash out and attack you.

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7. Let Them Come to You

Some cats are fairly sensitive about you coming into her space. This is especially true if they’re currently anxious and trying to hide. If you interrupt your cat while they’re trying to calm down, then they may lash out by scratching you.

Instead, let your cat come to you. If you want to pet them, call them and see if they come, instead of invading their personal space.

young man rubbing cats ears
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Being scratched by your cat is never fun. There are several reasons why your cat may attack you in particular. Usually, this is the result of anxiety or fear, which causes your cat to attempt to defend themselves – even if that means scratching you.

Luckily, there are several ways you can counteract this problem. Helping your cat stay calm and avoiding unnecessary stress can prevent future attacks from occurring.

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Featured Image: Anatoliy Cherkas, Shutterstock