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Why Does My Cat Attack My Wife But Not Me?

If your cat appears to be attacking your wife, but not you, you may be left scratching your head wondering why and what you can do to stop it.

Why Does my Cat Attack my Wife but Not Me?

Cats seldom do anything without provocation. That being said, what you think is an aggressive act may not be the same as what your cat considers threatening. Assuming your wife is the primary caregiver, your cat could be trying to communicate to her that they require immediate assistance at the food bowl, or the litter box has one too many poops in it.

So, now you know why your cat may be doing this. But, do cats really have favorites? Are they territorial? What happens if your cat is not correctly socialized? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…

Is your cat attacking your wife, or asking for her attention?

Why does my cat attack my wife but not me?

Why does my cat attack my wife but not me?

It is important to distinguish between whether your cat is actually attacking your wife or just trying to get her attention. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your cat hungry?
  • Is the litterbox dirty?
  • Have there been any changes in household composition? Did you recently move or did anyone move in or out?
  • Are there any new pets in the home?

If the answer to these questions is no then figuring out what is wrong with your temperamental tabby and how to fix it could be a bit more complicated.

Do Cats Have Favorites?

Ironically enough, not only do cats have favorites but 9 times out of 10, they are more likely to scratch and bite their favorite humans over the ones who completely ignore their existence. Why is this the case? Because cats see eye contact as a threat and people see eye contact as affection and respect.

Think about two cats that are about to throw down, they will hard stare at one another while emitting a high pitched melody of meows mixed with spitting and hissing. What are they saying to the other cat? I see you and you better stay put right there.

How to Stop Your Cat From Attacking Your Wife?

Cats use scratching as a form of social play, meaning they will come up and bat their paws at you in an attempt to get you to follow them or engage in playtime with them. They also use their claws as a way to lash out when they are feeling stressed out, anxious, or threatened.

Simple Body Language cues to avoid

Avoiding direct eye contact and abstaining from using verbal cues even when the scratch takes you by surprise is going to be key in getting your kitty to stop the assaults on your wife.

Is your cat feeling sick?

Something to consider besides the aforementioned questions is whether or not your cat is sick. Have there been any other signs that your cat is not feeling themselves i.e. diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, runny eyes, and nose or trouble urinating? Perhaps your wife has been using a new fragrance or began working at a particularly smelly job (Click here to see if your cat is worried, while you are away) and your cat does not understand why their mom smells so bad.

Finding the source of the problem

Whatever the case may be the only way you will be able to get your cat to stop attacking your wife is to find the source of their anxiety and resolve it by taking the following actions.

  • Make sure your cat feels safe and secure with plenty of places to perch and hide out when they are feeling nervous.
  • Wear your cat out. Playing helps prevent overstimulation that causes unresolved anxiety.
  • Respect your cats’ personal space. When a cat wants to interact they will come to you to get attention. Avoid following or chasing your cat when they are playing independently.
  • Never physically punish your cat for aggression. The cat will only see this as a challenge and the level of aggression will increase.

Taking cues from your cat about when to give attention and what type of attention they are seeking and when is key to stopping your cat from going on the attack.

Positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is when you reward your cat for doing what you like it to do. This gives it an incentive to keep doing it. On the opposite side, if it does something negative, you do not offer the treat.

This is known to get better results than shouting, spraying water at it or getting physical. These tactics usually just end up with the cat feeling confused and losing trust in you.

Ignoring them

If you ignore your cat it will make it feel that its actions are not getting your attention. This is helpful, in some cases, because your cat is likely keen to get your attention.

So, for example, some cat owners have opted to ignore their cat if it tries to attack them in the hope that it will stop if you do not respond.

Admittedly, this is a risk because it may or may not work, depending on your cat’s personality. So, it’s one of those tactics that you can try and see how it works with your cat.

Are Cats Territorial?

Both sexes of cats are territorial, though male cats tend to defend larger territories in the wild. Territorial aggression can be directed towards people or other animals but is most often directed within the feline species.

Cats in the wild use 3 ways to mark their territory:

  1. Patrolling-Cats are enigmatic creatures in that they will patrol the exact same path nightly, checking and rechecking for new smells of possible intruders
  2. Chin Rubbing-Cats have a pheromone producing gland on their chins and can often be seen almost kissing each other as they aggressively chin rub one another.
  3. Urine Spraying-Cats will mark an entire city block by urinating along their patrol path as a warning for invaders to stay away.

What is Cat Aggression?

Cat aggression is any behavior that is harmful to another cat, a person, or other animals. All wild animals show aggression to guard, defend, and protect in one form or another.

Aggression is comprised of a wide variety of very complex behaviors that occur over an even bigger variety of circumstances. Aggression can come in the form of audible noise or a full-on stare down attack.

What is the Difference Between Aggressive and Play Biting?

Yes, there is a huge difference between aggressive biting and play biting. When your cat is play-biting they will not draw blood with their teeth but be aware that play biting can turn into aggressive biting if your cat is easily overstimulated.

Aggressive biting is almost always accompanied by stiff posture, hard-staring, and the use of their claws and their mouths to clamp down and hold the offending party. Aggressive biting should never be acceptable nor should you ever use aggression to try to correct the biting.

Why Would Your Cat Attack You While Playing?

The number one reason your cat is trying to “attack” during playtime is overstimulation. Cats and especially teenage kittens need to have at least 20 minutes of playtime a day and that is just a minimum as some cats will require more and some less.

Watch how you are playing with your cat to be sure that you are not initiating the “rough play”. If your cat is pouncing and aggressively attacking your hand during play then take a time out or use a teaser toy that has a long stick or string. Don’t reinforce rough play and you will begin to see rough play subside.

What Happens if a Cat is Not Socialized?

The common name for a cat that has not been socialized is a feral cat. Feral cats are not dangerous in the wild and actually serve a huge purpose by providing rodent control without the use of poison or unnecessary suffering.

When a cat that is not socialized is brought into the home there can be a multitude of issues including inappropriate elimination and risk to the people and other animals in the home. Not all cats want to be social and the socialization of feral cats should be left to the experts.

Could Your Cat Be Love Biting Your Wife?

Your cat may be merely giving your wife what some refer to as love bites. While it is a cute name I caution you to not permit this even when your cat is still a cuddly kitten. Love biting is usually something that stems from a build-up of too much energy.

As a kitten, the mother cat will bite her kittens to get them to settle down and start nursing instead of rolling around with their siblings.

Love biting is most common in cats that were removed from or orphaned by their mothers at a fairly young age. They never learn the proper way to use their mouths and as a result instead of just rubbing with their people, they will go the extra step of introducing teeth.

Why is Cat Body Language so Important?

Cat body language is important because you want your cat to thrive in the home environment. Cats reveal so much about how they are feeling through their body language. Every part of your cat’s body tells a story about their feelings. By watching your cat’s eyes, ears, tail, back, and head you should be able to anticipate a bite before it happens and thwart your cat’s attempts to bite your wife.

What causes a cat to bite you?

If you are wondering what sort of things can trigger your cat to to bite you here are some common triggers for this:


If your cat is hungry they can get angry and irritated, much like us humans. So, some cats may opt to lash out and bite. This could be a tiny bite (a nip), or a full on chomp of a bite.

In this context, if you have noticed this only happens to your wife, it could be because she is one that often feeds it. Therefore, it’s demanding that she gets the food ready.

They want to play

When younger cats want to play some get persistent and want to demand that you play with them. When this happens they may bite you.

Similar to food, it’s their way of getting your attention. It is not limited to younger cats by the way. This can happen with an older cat, but younger ones are more likely to be playful and full of energy.

Its in pain

If your cat is in pain, there is a chance that it can lash out. This is often an instinctual thing. Amd, for this reason it should not be taken personally.

Why does my cat attack my wife when she strokes it?

If your cat attacks your wife while she strokes it this may be because it either does not appreciate the way she is doing it, or she has overstimulated it.

An example of an incorrect stroking technique is pushing its fur backwards, against the grain. This is when you stroke from the tail towards the head. This will annoy any cat.

However, if it’s attacking because of overstimulation, then this could be because it’s just had enough and maybe your wife has done it for too long.

Why does my cat attack my wife when she approaches it?

If your wife has been attacked by your cat while she approached it before this could be because it has encroached on its personal space.

For example, your cat may be feeling sick, or anxious and is hiding away. During this time, even a usually friendly cat could act aggressive to tell you to back off.

Will my cat forgive my wife for accidentally hurting it?

IF your wife accidentally hurt your cat, for example, she stepped on its paw, the chances are, with time, your cat will forgive her. However, if she has been hurting or abusing the cat consistently over time, there is no chance.

I remember accidentally stepping on my cat’s tail, as a child. I was leaving the kitchen with a full tray of food and didn’t even see it. My cat made a sound that I won’t forget.

Luckily, after hours of begging for forgiveness, my cat was willing to forgive me.

Why does my kitten bite my wife?

A kitten will often bite while being playful. In most cases they will bite, or nip, but it won’t hurt much at all. It may seem annoying at first, but play fighting is important for them.

This is because it is how they build relationships, practice hunting and learn boundaries with us humans. So for example, if it bites too hard, while play fighting, it will learn from your reaction to not be as rough next time.

Lindsey Browlingdon