Unprovoked, without warning Vicious attacks while petting.

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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The snuggler
Purred: Tue Feb 5, '13 11:21am PST 
I've tried looking on line for answers for this problem, and although I have noticed others attempting to explain the same type of problem with their cats, the people giving advice do not seem to understand the extent of the situation, so there doesn't seem to be any real answers anywhere that I looked

I had my cat since she was a month to two months old. She is now 8.

She is neutered, and is up to date with all of her shots.

She appears to be healthy and normal and is very affectionate and is always close by me.

I can touch her anywhere, without concern.

The Problem:

Recently, on three separate occasions she has VICOUSLY attacked me without obvious reason. This is NOT playful attacks, or a mere quick bite. It is NOT the friendly swipe while walking past her as many cats, including mine sometimes tend to do.

Prior to these attacks everything seems to be quite normal. She will cuddle up next to me, and I will start to pet her. She reacts as she always does by purring, squinting the eyes, and rubbing her face against my hand. She doesn't show any signs or symptoms of discomfort on any part of her body as I touch her.

Then all of a sudden she will get this “crazy” look in her eyes. He pupils will dialate and I can feel her slightly tensing up.
From past experience I know what is coming and I also know that for some reason we have gone from everything normal, to an imminent VISCOUS attack. At this point if I try to gently push her off she will not leave, but gets into to an attack position. If I move my hand away, she will not leave, but will gaze at me with her body tensed up, and a very pissed off look on her face.

The last time (this morning that it happened) in order to avoid being scratched up I firmly grabbed her skin on the back of her neck in order to try to put her down from the sofa. I know that a gentler move would have been futile. Although in this position she was not able to attack, she was acting insane, meowing and hissing at me, YET, she kept her claws in the sofa and my shirt and was fighting to stay where she was. I finally managed to get her away from me, and put her on the floor, although not without getting two scratches that were deep enough to draw blood.

Once on the floor she continued to look insane and appeared ready to jump back up and inflict more damage. Before she was able to do so I took off my slipper and whacked her butt. It should be noted that I do not believe in hitting my cat or punishing her in such a way, but I do not feel that I had any choice. When I hit her she ran away a few feet, that walked back and glared at me from a bout three feet away with the same intensity.

I finally threw the slipper at her (It's a very soft slipper) and she ran into the next room, only to come back out a few seconds later. At this point she appeared to have calmed down a notch or two and she laid down about five feet away from me still appearing upset but with some control to her behavior.

I just want to point out again that I am not talking about the usual playful or even rough type of play or dominant type of attack. This is a violent, vicous and UNPROVEKED attack that looks more on par of a Kill or be Killed type of attack.

Each time this happens, it seems that about an hour or so later she is completely her loving and friendly self as if nothing has happened.

After the last few incidents I would pet her, and firmly yet gently massage her all over
in order to see if there are any sore spots on her body to make sure that her behavior is not a pain issue (I'm a nurse so I have some experience in this), yet she seems perfectly fine without any signs of discomfort anywhere.

So, anyone know what is going on?

Thank you.


I'm awesome? I- know! ^w^
Purred: Tue Feb 5, '13 11:37am PST 
Over Stimulation and Excitement Aggression

"An often perplexing case history involves a cat that one moment lies peacefully purring on the owner's lap, happily accepting affection; and the next moment, erupts into a rage of claws and teeth. The owner is shocked by the sudden attack. It's actually normal behavior for cats to have quick reversals of mood and behavior. There's a fine line between enjoyable petting and irritating handling. Once the petting reaches a certain threshold, the cat will reject any further touching. The cat says, "Stop it!" by biting or scratching. Perhaps a sensitive or painful area was unknowingly touched. Continuous pleasurable stimulation can overexcite the cat causing aggressive behavior. The cat becomes sexually excited and the resulting aggression is a part of normal sexual behavior." (Taken from http://www.perfectpaws.com/agg.html )

I wonder if you stopped petting her, just get up and walk away from her, before she attacked if she would eventually stop this behavior? What you describe sounds a lot like she is being overstimulated though if she is spayed I'm not sure if the 'sexually excited' portion would apply or not.
It would be beneficial to have her in to the vet for blood tests just to check that there isn't anything else going on. I'm assuming also that this is a recent problem and that she has been good over the last 8 years. Has anything in your household changed lately? Have you or other house members been stressed out at all?
I would keep a blanket handy so when she starts to go into attack mode you can safely pick her up and get her off the couch, though the slipper seemed to work OK lol, quick thinking!

Hope that helped some, keep us posted! I'm curious to see what other members suggest as well.

~Simon and Hunter

Edited by author Tue Feb 5, '13 11:43am PST



The snuggler
Purred: Tue Feb 5, '13 12:06pm PST 
Thank you for the response.

Over stimulation? That's kind of hard to pin point, because she is the one who comes over, and snuggles up to me. Even if I stop petting her when I sense that things are very quickly changing it seems to be too late.

You asked if she has done this previously during the past few years. She has on rare occasions. I would say that it used to be maybe once every few months. These last few attacks have taken place about two to three weeks apart.

Searching this site, unfortunately the closest that I've seen to a similar situation was from a lady who eventually found out that her cat had a brain tumor and had to put it down.

I did take her to the vet about three and a half months ago for intense scratching, which turned out to be a flea problem, which was quickly resolved. At that time the vet brought her up to date with shots and did a quick exam on her. She got a clean bill of health, but no blood work was done because there didn't seem to be any need for it.

There are two major reasons that I haven't made another vet appointment at this point. The main one being that I'm unemployed right now, and I can't afford extensive testing on her. The second, which is a less of an issue but it still bothers me, is that the last time that I took her to the vet was the first time in about seven years. She is an indoor cat and I'm pretty much her only companion, which made the trip quite a bit traumatic for her. As we came back into the building where I live, she somehow managed to unzip her carrying case from the inside, and sprint up to my apartment and almost clawed her way through the door.

However, if the attacks continue or especially if they become more frequent, I guess I will have to figure something out. I should be back to work in a few weeks so money might not be such a big issue by then.


I'm awesome? I- know! ^w^
Purred: Tue Feb 5, '13 7:10pm PST 
It may still be over stimulation. She comes up and initially wants contact, you stop when you notice she puts on her crazy face, which by then may be too late. Try stopping the affection while she is still in lovely dovey mode and see what happens. Sometimes it only takes one pet too many for a cat to decide they've had enough so by stopping before you've reached that point and leaving her wanting more it should (hopefully) just eradicate that behavior all together.

I know what it's like to be unemployed and worried about fur-baby health so I feel your pain! Vet bills are never cheap!! Hang in there, I'd try the "I'll only touch you a little bit" method and see if that works at all, if not then I would put it down to medical issues and have her tested. I hope it's not a brain tumor!


Tia the- Terrific!
Purred: Wed Feb 6, '13 2:52pm PST 
Tia has been doing that! I didn't think about it being over-stimulation. Please keep us updated on how this goes.


Purred: Wed Feb 6, '13 3:04pm PST 
You might want to also get her checked by a vet. A change in behavior could mean something's wrong. Better to be safe than sorry I think.

There may be some clinics in the area that can work with you about cost. Mine are good about that.

Edlt: Never Mind, I missed the part about the vet.. My apologies.

Edited by author Wed Feb 6, '13 3:05pm PST


Member Since
Purred: Fri Oct 11, '13 4:44pm PST 
Hi I note that u became unemployed is that when she turned on u? It could simply be that she usually snoozes where u sit while you'r at work & now she has to share the seat 24 7? you assume(as would I0 that she jumps on u for fuss when she just wants to curl up. Try changing where you sit in the day? Regards Carolyn

Member Since
Purred: Fri Oct 11, '13 4:54pm PST 
I meant to say I find the best deterrant that stops attacks instantly is an air duster, the cans of air used to clean cmputers. Sounds more like cat speak for =pack it in=


Purred: Fri Oct 25, '13 7:31pm PST 
Hello! I am having a very similar problem. My cat is 7 months old, neutered, up to date with shots and in good health. He is a siberian, from a breeder. He is able to be picked up, petted everywhere, very affectionate and social as most siberians tend to be.

His attacks are completely without warning. Sometimes he attacks us while we are trying to fall asleep; sometimes while we are watching TV; sometimes while playing with a toy mouse.

He does get the crazy look in his eye, and when he does, there's nothing we can do to prevent the attack, he's set on attacking us no matter what we use to distract him. We are also against hitting, yelling, or punishing the cat, but there is very little we can do to prevent it once he gets set on attacking us. Spray bottles work a little bit.

His attacks are VERY violent, leave us bloody and scared. My husband and I are frightened to bring children into this environment, but we love this cat!

He does frequently have a lot of alone time, as we both work busy schedules, but we play with him as much as we can and buy him lots of toys, but I do acknowledge this could be an issue.

Thanks in advance for help!


Stella- Felinis--Queen- of All Kitties!
Purred: Sat Oct 26, '13 11:58am PST 
It's Stella. It's unusual for an adult cat to develop the overstimulation response late in life. We would guess either something on her is painful and when you touch her it sets the pain off. The other would be some kind of seizure, which sounds more likely given that you say she has a "look" before she attacks. That will mean she would have to be seen by a vet and get some meds for it. Have you tried Feliway and the other OTC things that help to calm kitties? So sad for both of you that you cannot enjoy each other's company.

PS Could it be some kind of delayed reaction to the flea meds she was given? Some of them affect cats in strange ways.

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