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Why Does My Cat Attack My Friends? (Avoid This Shame…)

If you have witnessed your cat attacking your friends you may be worried about this and wondering if there is a solution…

Why does my cat attack my friends?

Your cat may attack your friends out of fear. This can stem from a bad experience with people it doesn’t know. This is even worse if it is an adopted cat that was abused before. Initially, these cats may warn your friends with growling or hissing. But, they will follow up with a bite or attack if that doesn’t work.

So, now you know. But, how can you stop this aggressive behavior? How can you establish domiance around your cat? Are there any obvious signs that your cat is feeling uncomfortable around your houseguests? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

How do you stop aggressive behavior in cats?

Why does my cat attack my friends?

A cat biting a hand.

To avoid aggressive behavior in your cat you need to steer clear of the triggers of aggression. So, for example, playing rough with your cat needs to be avoided, etc. Also, start to use positive reinforcement for good behavior, such as handing out treats (Click here to see the price, on Amazon #Ad) when it is good.

It’s amazing how these simple positive reinforcements can improve your cat’s temperament. But, it’s a slow and gradual process, not an overnight trick

How do I establish dominance over my cat?

To establish dominance over your cat you need to be firm but kind. There is a fine balance. If you are too soft your cat will claim the dominance and walk all over you, metaphorically speaking. However, if you go too far it will resent you and may put up hostile resistance.

Regarding going too far, some of the consequences might include your cat lashing out with aggression which will be as bad as it attacking your friends. Which is a worse position than you started with.

Should I avoid letting my friends visit with my cat there?

You should not avoid letting your friends visit as a way to avoid your cat playing up. Its your house so you do as you please. But, it is worth being honest with your friends, before they arrive, so they understand what your cat might do.

This way, if they agree to still come round they will not be shocked and feel betrayed. Also, thsi will allow you to work on improving your cats responses to them. And, hopefully, in time it will stop behaving in this manner.

Should your friends stare back at your cat?

If your cat is acting hostile (what about dirty looks? click here) to your friends and staring ask your friends to ignore it and avoid direct eye contact. Thsi is because it could be misinterpreted, by your cat, as a hostile response. Which could lead to it lashing out.

What can I do if my cat attacks houseguests?

You can try getting your guest to help (more on this later),  redirect their aggression by offering them a treat, Or you can try using a pheromone collar (or toy) to try and alter her mood to stop this aggression.

Now that you know a few ways to stop this, let me go on to explain why your cat might have switched behavior, why your guests can stress them out, how to prevent it from happening, and much more. Keep reading…

Why has my cat become aggressive?

Older cat biting new kitten belly.

A hostile-looking cat.

Now that you understand why this has happened you may be intrigued to understand why this happened in the first place.

The reality is there are several different reasons that could have triggered this behavior. And, for that reason, I’m going to summarise a few of them for you.

  • Overexcited by stimulus
  • Afraid of new people
  • Overstimulated while she is marking
  • Feeling she has been ambushed

Overexcited by stimuli

Simple things like big sounds can overexcite your cat. The reality is, different cats have different ways of dealing with situations.

Therefore, you may find that your cat may redirect that aggression towards you or your guest.

Afraid of new people

There is a chance that your cat is genuinely scared of new people. This could be because of an issue with a stranger they may have had in their past, that you do not know about. This can be hard to see at first, because it may only manifest when you have a new guest that comes to your house.

Overstimulated during marking

Cats have a natural tendency to mark their territory. And, this involves actual people, not just objects. Therefore, if you have a new guest your cat may have a tendency to rub against them, which is normal, right?

Your guest then may think your cat is being friendly, but to your cat, she is marking her territory by placing her scent on him.

During this process, if your guest is unaware of what’s going on, and interrupts her by overly petting her (what if she rolls over? click here), she may get overstimulated and lash out. Unfortunately, this could end with her attacking and biting her guest.

Feeling like an ambush

There are some cases where your cat is not generally scared of people but they may misinterpret your guest as an ambush.

Because they are not aware of your new guest or their scent, they may interpret them as a predator trying to challenge their territory (but more on this later).

Why are cats stressed out over visitors?

Cats are creatures of habit. They view your house as their territory, this is why they tend to mark their territory, such scratching as your treasured leather couch (Click here to see why I rate this solution to deal with this). They like things done the same way every day, are you with me?

When your visitor enters their territory, cats respond in different ways. Some cats feel uncomfortable with this entry because it invades their space and changes their routine.

As much as this seems like quite a minor thing to us, it means a lot to your cat. Cats focus on any small thing as a potential violation.

How can you prevent this from happening in the future?

Understanding why they are stressed or why they have had a sudden change in behavior is one thing. But, you may be wondering how you can prevent this from happening so you don’t have the embarrassment.

For that reason, I’m going to summarise a few different ways that you can do this…

Avoiding new guests in your home

one straightforward tactic that you can use is not to allow the guest to enter your property. And, no, I do not mean creating a scene at the front door. I mean subtly suggesting that you meet in a cafe or a neutral spot instead. This is not always ideal but it is a suggestion nevertheless.

Safe Zone for your cat

Another suggestion is creating a safe zone for your cat within your house. The idea here is that your cat can be in the same house as the guests. But, they do not meet your guests because they have their own sectioned-off safe area.

This will keep your cat happy and stop her from getting anxious at the sight of new guests.

Understanding the root cause of the issue

Take some time to understand the root cause of the problem. For example, if your cat is freaked out by kids running around the house. Then do not suggest that you will host your toddler nephew’s next birthday party, are you with me?

Preparing for the inevitable.

If you have plans of having a new lodger, a friend coming over for an extended stay, etc. Rather than waiting for him to come and freaking your cat out. Instead, proactively prepare your cat.

Therefore, if this is happening, you can start by gently introducing new people into your home so that your cat slowly gets used to it.

For example, you could start introducing new people months before, to get her cat used to people coming in and out of the house.

People Training

Effectively this is is getting guests to help you with everyday activities that involve your cat. For example, you could get your neighbor to help out with feeding.

You could offer some treats to your cat. But, have your new guest in the same room while the treats are being offered.

Avoiding eye contact

Another thing that you can do to prevent this from happening is asking your guests to purposely avoid eye contact. It may seem strange to you, but, cats have an issue with direct eye contact (more on this later).

Signs that your cat is unhappy with house guests

Sometimes it is blatantly obvious that your cat is unhappy with your guests coming over. The obvious signs are your cat hissing (Click here to see why your cat is hissing at your dad), charging at your guests, or in extreme cases she may even want to bite them.

However, other subtle behaviors may go undetected…

For example,

  • Hiding
  • Defecating outside her litter tray
  • Fur standing up

All of these things are subtle indications that your cat is unhappy with the new guests in their environment. Meaning you need to take action.

The rude awakening sign.

Another tactic that cats use is to purposely wake up your guests while they are trying to sleep in one of your guest beds (Click here to learn how to train your cat not to jump on the bed). If you have a new guest, that is staying over, you may witness them sneaking into the guest room to deliberately disturbed their sleep.

You may think this is just an unexpected accident. But, cats are clever sometimes, it is a calculated attack to try and get them out.

How can you get your visitors to help you?

So far I’ve talked about clever techniques that you can use to try and prevent this from happening. However, there are some things that you can do, in collaboration with your visitors, which can help your cat from feeling stressed.

01. Avoiding eye contact

Earlier I briefly explained that avoiding eye contact is a good tactic. But, you may be wondering why this is?

Simple, cats associate direct eye contact as a challenge to their territory. Therefore, if your guest enters the door ad looks at your cat directly and smiles, this simple eye contact can freak him out. To us humans it’s nothing, in fact, it’s deemed as a friendly thing to do, right? But for your cat, she may interpret it as an attack.

Therefore, asking your guests to kindly refuse to give your cat direct eye contact can help your cat feel more comfortable. To be perfectly honest it’s even better if they completely ignore the cat instead.

02. Waiting for your the cat to come to them

Alongside avoiding eye contact. It is a good technique to allow cats to come to them instead of them proactively going to the cat to force unwanted petting.

This can easily be achieved by arming your guests with treats that your cats love. What they can do is cunningly drop treats around the house periodically. The idea is, it will arouse the curiosity of your cat.

Hopefully, in time, your cat get will pluck up enough courage to approach your guests and start to feel more comfortable with them.

Clever positioning

In addition to these techniques, you can ask your guests to be clever about where they sit or how they position themselves in your house. I know it’s a big ask, but it helps immensely.

But, what do I mean by this?

Well, it is a good idea that your cat does not feel cornered by your guest. So, ask your guest to carefully choose where they sit carefully. Ask them to position themselves in a room so that your cat has a clear escape route if they are uncomfortable with the guest.

Remember, if they are cornering the cat in a room she may have no alternative in her mind but to attack (Click here if your cat seems to go after your wife).

Lindsey Browlingdon