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Why Does My Cat Ambush Me? (Am I Its Prey?)

If your cat is randomly ambushing you it can be difficult to accept. But, more importantly, you may be wondering why on earth this is happening…

Why does my cat ambush me?

The most common reasons why your cat will ambush you is to play hunting games, release some pent-up energy, or just to bond with you. If it is the former, hunting, this is common in younger cats honing their skills. If it’s due to energy, you will have to help them work it off to stop this.

So, now you know? What is the point of this ambushing? How can you calm down your cat? Should you encourage rough play? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 reasons why your cat may ambush you:

Why does my cat ambush me?

A sinister/scary-looking cat hiding behind two wooden slats.

Earlier I briefly mentioned some reasons why your cat may ambush you. In this section I will expand on each reason to give you more detail:

01. Play hunting

Young cats, especially if they are a few years old, or less are notorious for play hunting. This is when they will run around and hunt anything moving. Unfortunately, this will include ambushing you from time to time.

02. Releasing energy

If cats have a lot of stored-up energy they are likely to get over-excited and launch random attacks like this. If this is the case you may need to play with them more to make them burn this excess energy without abusing you.

It is especially worth getting them to release this energy before you go to bed so they do not wake you in the night or start acting hyper (click here if it’s just been neutered) in the morning.

03. Bond with you

Believe it or not, your cat may just want to bond with you when it ambushes you in this way. I know it sounds a bit far-fetched, but cats, especially younger ones, will have the urge to do weird things like this to show love.

What is ambushing?

Ambushing is an action used to catch the opponent off-guard. According to Wikipedia, it is a tactic used by the military to conceal and cath their enemy unaware. So, when your cat does this they lay in wait, out of sight. Then, when they have you in their sight, they will pounce.

If you have not seen this happen you will be more surprised and if you may be quite scared in the first instance.

What is the point of your cat ambushing you?

The point of your cat ambushing you is to simulate hunting. Effectively your leg or foot is their make-believe prey, for example, a mouse. It will hide, stalk and then pounce on you like it would a vulnerable animal of prey. 

Unfortunately for you, at this point, you are the pretend prey and will be inflicted with the pain of this attack. So, it’s just a game, no serious intent is planned. The annoying thing is your leg or foot could be hurt during these games.

What should you do if your cat’s ambush is too rough?

If your cat is acting too rough when it ambushes you then you need to give it some feedback. This can be done by playfully pretending to be wounded and make a high-pitched whining sound. The theory is your cat will feel mercy on you and hold back on further attacks.

I will openly admit that it is not foolproof. Some aggressive cats may seek relish in this response and proceed with their game. So, you will need to test it to see how your cat responds.

Why do some cats respond differently?

Some cats respond differently because this is the way cats are, unfortunately. Each cat has a unique personality. So, like most behavioral strategies, you will need to test and see, then try something else. And, when you find that winning formula, then you just keep using that, are you with me?

Why does my cat attack me out of nowhere?

Why does my cat hiss at everyone but me?

An angry-looking/scary cat with its teeth exposed and mouth open.

A cat may attack you from nowhere when for several reasons. However, the most common issue is redirected aggression. This is when the cat is either fearful, overexcited, or angry with another animal, or pet, for example, and may redirect that energy to you.

This is common in indoor cats that may have an issue with something outside, and yes they can still detect or be affected by outside activity indoors, and push this onto you.

How do you calm down an aggressive cat?

The best way to calm an aggressive cat in the heat of the moment is to give it space. Remove yourself from the situation, and if possible give the cat some space and isolate it until it’s calm. Keep kids away from it and consult your vet for further advice.

The instinctive thing to do may feel like shouting or physically handling the cat, but this rarely works. And, could even make matters worse. So, it’s best to avoid that. When I say matters worse, this could include your cat getting more aggressive and out of control.

Is my cat playing or being aggressive?

To tell if your cat is just playing or is being aggressive you need to look at their body language. For example, look at their ears, stance, and even their fur. Is its ears pinned back? Or fur puffed up? Or crawling low? These are signs of aggression.

But, it is nuanced, because sometimes these signs are misleading. But, with experience, you will easily see the difference. But, trust me, the ears are always a giveaway. And, when you study their movement you will see what I mean.

Is it OK to play rough with your cat?

It is not a good idea to play rough with your cat. This is because it encourages rough play for all people, and some cannot tolerate it. Also, you can easily get scratched or bitten badly, which can lead to infection in some cases.

Once cats get used to ambushing and scratching you in this way, and you condone it, they may just keep upping the ante. Meaning, a small nip today, then a massive bite tomorrow, are you with me?

What do you do when your cat plays too rough?

If your cat is playing too rough for you stop the game immediately. Do not hope it will stop. Take yourself into another room and give the cat space to calm itself down. Failing that you can try to distract it. This can be done using a toy ball (Click here to see the reviews, on Amazon #Ad), or something similar.

Can you startle your cat to stop them from ambushing you?

You can startle your cat to break them out of ambush mode. This can be done using a distracting sound, for example, an electronic sound effect from a toy (Click here to see the price, on Amazon #Ad), squeezy toy, etc.

This is just another method to try if the other methods fail to give you the response you were expecting. Some cats may respond well, others may just continue the ambush, so you will need to see what it does.

Lindsey Browlingdon