Why Has My Cat Become Mean?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, offers some reasons for the change in behavior.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: Jan. 23, 2009, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My cat has always been very sweet to me and others. Lately though, he has become been nasty to other people. Any thoughts on why?

A: There could be all sorts of reasons for this type of behavior. The first thing I would suggest is to visit your vet. If you cat is OK physically, than you may want to query a feline behaviorist.

Meanwhile, I can share a story that shows just how sensitive our feline friends can be to changes in their routine. I used to cat sit for a very sweet kitty named Roscoe. His owner was a student and spent most of her day home with Roscoe, so they developed a cozy routine. Roscoe was always friendly to me when I would care for him until, all of a sudden, there was a huge change in his personality.

One visit I opened the door to find a true Halloween cat complete with growls and hisses. I could not believe it was the same calm, loving Roscoe. I literally had to dodge around him, in fear of getting bitten, to tend to his food and litter. On my way out, I managed to coax him into the bedroom where I left the door open a crack. This was so I could make my escape out the front door without a wild cat snarling behind me, and he could get his paw into the crack in the bedroom door to get out

After I left I started to worry if Roscoe had been able to nudge the bedroom door open. I turned around, went back to the building, climbed the stairs and quietly put the key in the front door. I needn’t have worried, I was “greeted” by a hissing Roscoe right at the front door. I quickly closed it before he got out and I got bitten!

When I told his owner about the behavior, she was stunned. Roscoe was just as nice as always with her. However, I learned that her home routine had changed dramatically. She now had a boyfriend and was spending lots of time at his house. We could not say for sure if this caused Roscoe’s anti-social outbursts, but it is good to remember to give special thought to our kitties throughout major changes in our lives.

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Why Has My Cat Become Mean?

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Reader Comments

A.J.    Wasilla, AK

8/6/2015 9:39:28 AM

Something that worked for me on aggressive cats is to more or less force my love on them, for example holding them and petting them despite them being pissed. Sure, they would claw me a bit and bite me a bit but now they will at least tolerate my presence if not jump on my lap purring. My theory for this is if the cat is mad at you, and then you hug it out despite the punishment they dish out they will eventually get over whatever they were upset about, or if they are dealing with some psychological issues the hugging may help comfort them and help them deal with whatever problem theyre dealing with.

Ryan    Boston, MT

12/13/2014 4:09:52 PM

OK - so I genuinely think my cat may be rabid or something. Hear me out:
Several years ago my mother got two kittens a month apart from each other. Sophie and Libby. Both became attached to one another almost instantly. They were both affectionate kittens and loved their masters; including me.
One day, Sophie was laying on my lap as I was watching a movie in the family room. She has laid on me numerous times so this was no different. For whatever reason she decides to bite my knee cap and then take off running. She must have been no more than a year old but after that day forth she hated me and everyone else that looks at her. The only exception would be my mother and father.
This cat has become so insane for no reason at all. Seriously. She was never abused, neglected, or hurt. She has it out for me and my brother. When I come for a visit she will hiss at me and run off. Some instances would be walking passed her down the hallway and she will come out of the spare room hissing as she runs away. She has frequently tried to swipe at me if I come close to petting her. It's become so bad that I hate going over to their house for dinner because I feel so unwelcome.

Can anyone explain why she has this terrible behaviour? I don't believe the "knee biting" incident is what had started this aggressive-stance to her once-beloved master but it just seems like such a coincidence to be ignored. Can anyone shed some light on this?

Kayla    Jackson, GA

2/9/2014 9:29:30 AM

My cat got mean when we got a new puppy AND we moved... I try to get close to her but she will hiss and growl until I left. What is worse is that she is my cat and I'm afraid that I will lose her and the memories of the sweet kitty she was. ;(

PJ    Spring branch, TX

1/17/2014 6:43:19 PM

Our cat turned violent when our dog died. Drew blood every day. My husband was ready to get rid of him.
We got another dog and all was right again.

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