Why Your Cat Suddenly Attacks You, Plus 4 More Interesting Cat Behaviors

cats look at each other before a fight

Cats do many interesting things that often make us wonder what’s going on inside that little mind of theirs. We’ve uncovered why cats do some of the interesting things that they do in a previous article, and now we’ll uncover even more interesting cat behaviors for you here!

If you’ve ever wondered why your cat likes some cats and not others, why they arch their backs and puff their tails, why they knock things off counters, why it is that they suddenly attack you, or why it is that they stare at you, well, we will tell you! Just keep reading, cat lover. Understanding the feline mind doesn’t have to be tricky. We’ll help you become a true master of feline ways. Let’s dive in!

Why does my cat like some cats and not others?

We know for sure that cats are very picky and finicky little beings. But this is just one of their many charms, right? There are some cats that are naturally receptive to other cats. Cats are territorial beings by nature, and there are some cats that simply refuse to give peace a chance. For cats, their personality and exposure to other cats—or lack thereof—often predicts how receptive they will be to other cats as they are introduced to them past kittenhood. In addition to this, if your cat has undergone a traumatic experience with another cat, this can leave a lasting impression on them as well.

I’ve seen my usually friendly cat be extremely friendly to some cats, and downright rude to others. And my other ginger cat is pretty much hated by and vice versa with any cat he meets aside from our family circle of cats.

Cat aggression is a very serious matter, and sadly a reason that many cats are given away or surrendered to shelters. Some cats are simply fine with overlapping their territorial space with other cats, while others will not go down without a fight, literally.

According to ASPCA.com, if one cat reaches the age of one to three years old and then trouble brews, social maturation may be a factor. There are ways to keep the peace, but do not force the issue should your feline not be so friendly.

If you’d like to read more on the 5 distinct cat personalities, check out my article on it: Research Claims Cats Have 5 Specific Personality Types

Why does my cat arch their back and puff their tail?

Most of the time when we think of this cat stance, we instantly imagine the quintessential Halloween black cat. Cats do this as a means to make themselves appear larger to whatever is making them feel threatened at the moment, and kittens who are learning the ways of the world are much more likely to do this as opposed to mature cats.

But when your cat puffs up their tail, this isn’t always a bad thing or should be seen as if your cat is scared. Cats can puff up their tails as a sign that they want to play! Pay close attention to your cat’s body language, specifically the direction of their ears. A classic sign that a cat is angry or threatened is when their ears are pointed down and backwards.

And what about when your cat is strictly arching its back, like after they’ve awoken from an extended cat nap? Well, your cat arches its back as a way to get in a good stretch! Your cat’s back is VERY flexible, so although it seems like one heck of a yoga move to you, remember that their flexibility is superb. While humans have nearly 34 vertebrae in their backs, cats have nearly 60 so this allows them to really hit that arch shape.

Why does my cat knock things off counters?

Oh, we definitely know how this one goes don’t we? Your cats do not care how expensive or important that thing is that they’re about to knock clean off your counter. Cats are going to be cats and they simply do as they please, right? Well, as it turns out, your cats do this for a couple of highly hypothetical reasons—aside from driving you mad.

Author and certified animal behavior consultant (CABC) Amy Shojai tells PetMD.com that cats do this because of the way their prey-driven brains are hardwired:

“Cats are hardwired to hunt for their food, so knocking things over may be a manifestation of this instinct…Cats use their paws to test and explore objects, and the movement, sound, and touch or feel of the object helps them understand what might be safe or not.” 

Remember, your cats paws are very sensitive regions of their body, and they often use them as a means to explore the world around them: “A moving paw-patted object combines all of the best aspects of stalking and prey chase with the movement and tactile feel of the patted object, and the final escape rush of the falling item,” says Shojai.

Not only this, but as we know, cats are masters of manipulation—especially on the humans that adore them. So your cat might knock things off the counter because A: they want to get a rise out of you and B: they want to captivate your undivided attention. Adi Hovav, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, says: “Humans make great audiences. Who doesn’t jump up when that glass starts to go over the edge of the table?” 

Touché, kitty. 👏🏽


Why does my cat suddenly attack me?

You’re sitting there, minding your own business, when all of a sudden your cat sinks their teeth or claws (or both!) right into you. OUCH! If you’ve ever wondered why the heck your cat does this, remember, although your cat knows exactly where their next meal is coming from, they are still wild at heart. Your cat is driven by their desire to hunt and explore things that trigger their curiosity. And if it just so happens to be your feet nice and cozy under the covers, well, you better hope those blankets are thick my friend. And if you entice your cat to attack you, well, you just might be asking for it. Cats are going to avoid conflict whenever they can because it’s not in their nature to be that way. But if you think provoking your cat is a good idea, you won’t after those angry cats have left their marks on you.

Whatever you do should your cat attack you, try not to take it personal. Sometimes your cat is simply playing with you and has chosen you as their prey—like those cute times when they jump out and latch onto your leg as you come around the corner. Your cat’s mind is intended to stay in attack mode, and they’re constantly in search of ways to satisfy their hardwired prey drive and natural instincts.

If you feel as if these attacks are simply unprovoked and are becoming an issue, closely examine your cat’s living situation and look for any red flags which may be causing them to feel on edge. Remember, your cat is not a spiteful of grudgeful being. They are highly sensitive mammals that will react when they feel even the slightest bit threatened, so please, whatever you do, don’t take it personal. Respect them and give them space, and no matter what, do not punish them.

Is your cat biting you when you pet them? Read exactly why this happens here in our article: Does Your Cat Bite You When You Pet Them? Find Out Why

Why does my cat stare at me?

It goes without saying that cats have really amazing eyes. And we know that cats have some pretty intense stares, too. I know I’d lose in a staring competition with my cats, because it seems like their eyes can go forever without blinking! But what about when your cat has fixated their peepers on you? Well, they do this for a few reasons, actually. Your cat is always on the lookout for potential threats and dangers, and they look to you as their human because they trust you.

Another reason why you cat stares at you? Well, because you’re likely the center of their universe! I have one cat who simply loves to gaze at me, and knowing this makes me feel even more special. And you should, too, if you’ve got a feline who loves to stare at you. 😻

Dr. Kathryn Primm with Applebrook Animal Hospital explains you should ultimately take it as a compliment that your cat has found a direct interest in you: “Cats are notoriously nosy, so when your cat watches you, it might be just to see what you will do for entertainment.”

Learn anything new and interesting about cat behavior here? Share this article with your feline friends so they can learn some fun facts about cat behavior, too!


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