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Why Does My Cat Hit Me When I Walk By? (Stealthy?)

If your cat has just hit you as you walked by you may be shocked and annoyed. But, more importantly, you are likely to want to understand why…

Why does my cat hit me when I walk by?

Your cat may hit you when you walk by for several reasons such as wanting your attention, testing your authority for dominance, or claiming territory. The response after the initial hit will determine your cat’s intention.

So, now you know. But, is it normal for a cat to hit you? What should you do if it swipes at you? Should you be worried if it goes further with a scratch or bites? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 top reasons why your cat hits you when you walk by:

A white cat gyrating, dancing & jumping.

A white cat gyrating, dancing & jumping.

Earlier I briefly mentioned three main reasons why your cat may hit you as you walk by. Therefore, in this section, I will provide more detail about each one of these:

01. Fighting for dominance

Some cats, especially male cat that is not neutered (click here to see how they may react after being neutered), will be more inclined to be pushing to be dominant. Cats are keen on social hierarchy, hence the reason this may happen with you.

02. Claiming territory

Cats are strict when it comes to marking territory. This is why they spray on furniture, or scratch walls, etc. They may use these tactics to mark their territory. When you see your cat headbutting you, or hitting you gently, it could be a prelude to claiming its territory.

03. Wants your attention

Sometimes this hitting is plain and simple, your cat just wants to get your attention. If this is the case it is likely to be a light tap rather than a savage attack, or bite. So, look out for this one.

Is it normal for a cat to hit you?

If your cat gently hits you with its tail, this would be classed as normal and not a big deal. But if your cat is getting aggressive and following up with open claws, or biting, then this is not normal or acceptable. If it’s the latter you will look into this with some urgency.

If it’s the former, a light tap with its tail, then it may just be trying to get your attention. Think of it as comparable to being tapped on the shoulder, gently, are you with me?

What should you do if your cat hits with its tail:

If your cat hits you with its tail, gently, then there is no real need to take action. Why? Well, it is not a big deal and simply a way to communicate that it needs your attention. It should not be taken as a serious issue at all.

As discussed earlier, being hit with a tail is like being called, or tapped on the shoulder. No big deal, right?

What should you do if it claws out and bites?

Why does my cat grab my hand and bite me?

Cat biting a hand.

If your cat claws out and bites you here are some steps you should take:

01. Remain calm

Before anything, you need to remain calm. It may be tempting to react in the heat of the moment, but this may just make things worse. Your cat could react even worse if you try and stare it down or even worse, try to approach it.

02. Give the cat space

The cat will need some space so, if possible, leave the room and isolate it there to calm down. Make sure as you leave, you avoid approaching it for the door, this may be misinterpreted as a challenge.

03. Monitor

Your cat will need some time to calm down. So, you should be giving your cat adequate time to recover. It could be minutes or in some cases hours. It really depends on your cat.

What should you do if it swipes at you as you walk by?

If your cat takes a gentle swipe at you it may just be seeking your attention. When this happens you should not be alarmed or concerned. You may just need to show it some attention. This could be as simple as reaching down and petting it.

You should know right away if your cat did this for that reason or if it was more of an ill intention.

Could your cat hit you because of redirected aggression?

Your cat could hit you due to redirected aggression. This is when your cat is annoyed or anxious about another problem and redirects this frustration with you.

For example, your cat could have been chased by a local cat, escaped through its cat flap, and safely returned home. Then it may be freaked out and anxious by its ordeal. Then, you try and pick it up, as you usually do, and it suddenly hits you, this is redirected aggression.

Could your cat hit you because of play aggression?

A cat could hit, or bite, because of play aggression. This is often seen when a cat does not understand the boundaries of playfighting and goes too far. These cats have often been taken from their mother and littermates too early to get this.

When this happens they may happily initiate playing with you, light biting, slapping you with their paws, etc. But, within a short while, it can escalate into an aggressive rough playfighting session. Which, for most owners, is way out of their comfort zone.

Should you be worried if your cat bites or scratches you?

If your cat has bitten or scratched you you should get it checked out because these wounds can get infected. Especially if your cat is continually getting aggressive with you. If you have seen blood drawn make this your priority.

In some cases, if it’s a light nip or scratch, it could be OK. But, it’s not worth taking the risk of assuming and then finding out later that it is an issue.

Why does some cat hit you in the face?

A cat could hit you in the face for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons are getting your attention, being too close to it, and wants you to back off, or it wants some food and you are just sleeping.

To us this may seem harsh and unacceptable, and if you feel that way you are right. The reason being, you set the rules, and if it’s not OK with you then you have to address it, especially if it’s happening regularly.

Could your cat hit you to move out of its way?

There are some occasions when your cat will hit you, gently, with its tail just to ask you to move. Maybe you are bent overlooking in the opposite direction and did not see it coming, and this could be its way of alerting you.

If this is the case it’s just a gentle tap to politely ask you to move, nothing major. Think of this like the cat is saying “excuse me please”, are you with me?

Lindsey Browlingdon