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Aggressive Cat Behavior Problems

Growling, Hissing and Scratching

These cat questions are all about aggressive cat behavior, growling, hissing or scratching. See if the advice here helps you with your cat aggression behavior problem.

Here are our questions and answers related to aggression, growling, biting or scratching. Just scroll down to read more about:

  • "Grumpy cat syndrome?"
  • "My girlfriends Maine Coon hates me"
  • "My Maine Coon kitten has started growling"
  • "Buddy growls @ 18 weeks old"
  • "Overly Aggressive Cat Behavior in 2 year old female Maine Coon "
  • "Aggressive protective male"

Grumpy cat syndrome? - Growling and Hissing

by: Marti
(Marquette MI)

My daughter's cat is never very affectionate and he usually hisses at strangers when they arrive, then later ignores them. When I go to her house he comes running up to me and rubs against my legs until I reach down and pet him.

At this point he either hisses or growls but keeps coming back to rub on me. He will play with me if he's in the mood, but if I scratch his neck or pet him, he hisses half-heartedly.

Its apparent he's not afraid of me and he always comes to greet me. He still ignores or hisses at her in laws and other family members. Why does he run to greet me but won't accept even a casual scratch? Is this some sort of grumpy cat syndrome? A weird way of saying hi?

I am a cat person and have had cats throughout my entire life. My mom's cat acted similarly. It was an odd game we played. I'd pick him up and snuggle him, he'd hiss or growl at me then he'd get his string and bring it to me to play.

I think its odd but kind of funny, so we do our little dance. Why does he act this way? His mom is a domesticated, but feral born cat as, I suspect, is his father. Is this some sort of wild behavior?

Reply:

Hi Marti,

Grumpy cat syndrome could be a very real thing! But it's more than mood or him not liking certain people.

It sounds like a combination of two things. First, he's not a particularly affectionate boy by nature. He'd prefer to be near his people but not on them. Second, it sounds like he's not well-socialized. This happens.

This reminds me of a feral cat my Grandmother took in when I was young. She was pretty well domesticated for my Grandma, but fled to the basement as soon as I or anyone arrived.

Over the course of years, I would venture down there to give her treats, call her, and try to let her pet me. Nope! That cat hid as if her life was in danger. She never once let me come near her. She had a good life, though.

If the mom was feral born but then found a home, that's great. Hopefully she had some social skills to show her kittens. But, did her litter of kittens end up at a shelter for a while?

Even if he came from someones home, he & his siblings would have needed to stay in that home till about 12 weeks of age, all the while being carefully "people trained."

The time between 6-12 weeks of age is important for human bonding. Even more so if the mom was feral.

Beyond that, it could just be his personality. The interesting part is, he clearly likes you! He's showing it the best he can!

All in all, I would say he's always going to be a standoffish type, (but still a good cat of course!)

Given more time with you and your understanding and patience he may one day be able to accept your pets and maybe even sit on or next to your lap.

~Carrie


three maine coons

Comments:

Also grumpy cat
by: Donna

My beautiful, female Maine Coon was picked up as a stray and is estimated to be about 2 years old. How long she lived on her own is unknown.

We have had her for several months now and she is only just beginning to tolerate us. My two other cats..loving cats...give her a wide birth and it makes me sad that she shows no sign of curiosity or desire to join the family.

We are seeing slight signs of improvement.....Does anyone think she will ever integrate with us?

Right now, my only consolation after looking forward to owning a Maine Coon for so long, is that at least we are providing a safe environment for her. We are not forcing her..letting her make her adjustments in her own time. 




My Girlfriends Maine Coon Hates Me

by: Steve Schwartz
(Canton Ohio)

I have always been nice to my gfs Maine Coon. I have only disciplined him with a spray bottle of water a few times when he would get on curtains.

Then all of a sudden a week after the last spraying of water he now hisses at me when he sees me and runs and hides like his life is in danger he has even made bowel movements and urinated when I tried to hold him or bathe him.

So I now leave him alone but he doesn't come around and hates me still. What should I do and will he ever like me. He likes everyone else. He is now 6 to 7 months old please help.

Steve Schwartz

Reply:
Hi Steve,

As I read this along, the pieces came right together. This one is pretty clear.

OK. First, cats don't "hate" people the way we sometimes think. That's a human emotion. But, they do have preferences and they do have foods or even people they don't care for. In your case, this boy's feelings are much different from dislike. But, it's not too late.

So what's going on with him? Pure and simple fear. A kind of innocent fear. Self preservation (hissing) and then utter terror (losing bodily control in your arms).

The first clue I have is in his age. As a kitten, he was still becoming adjusted to his new home and new people when you began training him. He had not yet built trust. Maine Coon kittens arrive in their new homes as friendly, happy kittens but they don't have a trust-based bond yet.

Kittens will be naughty. Usually a "psst!" or just removing them from whatever they are doing is enough. The water bottle was overboard, and too soon.

Spraying the water bottle is more of a dog training technique. It can be used on secure cats when nothing else works. The water bottle is a no-holds-barred, full-on cat training method.

Then, he began to grow. He realized he is his own being, and now shows signs of defending himself from his perceived attacker!

So, on to the next. At this point, to hold him against his will and try to bathe him! induces sheer panic in him. He doesn't know what horrible fate awaits him!

Definitely, do not bathe him! There is no need. If he's really grubby for some reason, let your girlfriend do it. Yes, it's good to start them young on the habit, but trust is more important.

To turn things around, try leaving him be for a while. You must build trust with him. When he sees that you're not a threat, he may come around. It could take a while. You could hold out a treat, give it to him with nothing in return. Then perhaps give him a little pet and be done. He might never take to you quite the same as your girlfriend. 

Take your time, and be gentle. Never try to "push." Think of him as a tender little soul.

Best Wishes,
~Carrie

Comments:
Agreed!
by: Terry

The kitty is scared! you sorta have to make friends on their terms, and when they are ready. Coonies are famously gentle cats, so just leave him alone and he'll come to you when he's ready! They can be loyal to one person above all others, so take that into consideration as well.

by the way
thanks so much carrie for the help. i had it in my head that if i held him and cuddled him he would see i was not a threat and he only got bathed because we found him sleeping in attic with a bed of fiberglass insulation and was all dirty but again thanks so much for the help again

I agree totally.
by: Helen

I agree totally. Think like Cesar Millan: No eye contact, no talk, no touch. It is going to take a while for him to get over what he perceived as aggressive treatment by you.




My Maine Coon Kitten Has Started Growling

I have 2 Maine Coon kittens, a boy and girl, both six months old. The boy has suddenly started to growl when he has a toy in his mouth - not only at my other kitten but me, is this normal? They have yet to be neutered.

Reply:
Hi,

This is very normal for a kitten his age who hasn't been neutered. In fact, when I read your title, the first thing that came to my mind was, "is he neutered?"

It's time to take them in for spaying/neutering! He will mellow out, and they are at the age for it anyway. He's not too young to start displaying some "adult" behaviors with his sister! This is about when that could start.

Best Wishes,
~Carrie




Buddy growls @ 18 weeks old

by: Judy (UK)
(Sussex UK)

When a male kitten growls, does this mean it's time he was neutered? Buddy occasionally 'combs' my hair using his claws, bites and pulls it. This happens when he's found a perch higher than me. Is it dominant behaviour? The experience isn't pleasant, particularly when I've just washed my hair.

He loves his wand toys and his tunnel. I bought a kids tunnel from Argos @ (£9.99) instead of the more expensive cat ones. He's so energetic. He's almost learnt to tumble it as he uses his back legs.

The clicker training is working as he's a greedy boy. Thank goodness for the talented author(UK).

Buddy has a loud purr and expresses his opinion on our actions with him. He chatters quietly to himself whether we are in the room with him or not.

Are there any 'wild' Maine Coon around any more?

Judy

Reply:
Hi Judy!

Buddy sounds like a fun, energetic, ball of kitten! He must be very handsome, too!

As for the growling, it's a sign he's growing up. He's no longer a young kitten assuming an "inferior" role. Now, he's becoming an adolescent, pushing boundaries, and "trying out" for Alpha Male position. On the other hand, he is still a kitten so some of it is just play. Very much like human children role-play to prepare for adulthood!

That said, it's also a perfect time to have him neutered. Once it's done he'll remain his sweet mellow self and probably not make any more attempts for Alpha status.

As for the rough grooming, our Alice does exactly the same thing! She sits on the top of the couch and "grooms." It quickly turns into bites, though they are not malicious, they do hurt.

I think it's the same thing cats do to each other. They groom each other, and if one is feeling frisky, he/she bites, then they run off to chase each other. It's like "frisky grooming." A funny quirk.

Wild Maine Coons: Not any more. The term harks back to the old days. For many generations Maine Coons have been living the good life in houses, having all their needs met. They are a registered pedigreed cat now.

The "wild" Maine Coons of the past cared for themselves outdoors & so they had to be good hunters & survivors. These days, the closest thing to wild would be feral cats. And of course that would be the furthest comparison to a modern Maine Coon cat.

I'm glad the clicker training is working for you. I haven't heard much about it for cats, but I'll look into it!

~Carrie



Overly Aggressive Cat Behavior in 2 year old female Maine Coon

by: Jeff
(Cortland, IL, USA)

Maine Coon Cat Aggression

It seems to me like she has split personalities.

One minute she will be nice and friendly. She always greets me when I come in the house and she sleeps on my headboard at night. Sometimes I can pick her up and pet her.

Anyone else who comes in my house gets a warning growl and a hiss followed by unprovoked attacks. When I play with her we normally play fetch (lately she wont return the ball she just chases it around)

She likes to play kinda rough but only uses her claws on me when I try to trim them. Its getting to the point where I am debating getting her declawed because she wont let me cut her nails.

She absolutely hates one of my female friends. What can I do to calm her down so she shows less aggressive cat behavior and how can I get her to let me cut her nails?

Also she likes licking plastic grocery bags whats up with that?

Reply
Hi Jeff,

Well you certainly have your hands full with your girl! There could be a couple of causes to her issues.

Unfortunately it's not as simple as training a pet dog. Cats have a mind of their own. Although the are trainable to a certain extent, aggression is a difficult problem.

She could be experiencing anxiety, insecurity, or fear. Fear aggression can certainly be dealt with.

She clearly loves you, but becomes stressed with your visitors. Some training can show her that your visitors are friendly, not to be feared.

Try having your visitor give her a treat, then removing your girl to her own room till your visitor leaves, gradually increasing the time she can be with your company. If she attacks, don't scold her (it will only hurt, not help) just remove her.

Here is an incredibly popular and product you should consider trying. You may already know about it: Feliway Plug-In Diffuser.

The Feliway Diffuser has been a lifesaver for many households. It has a whopping 18 thousand customer reviews for you to explore!

It plugs in to a wall socket, and works by mimicking cat pherimones in the house. The pherimones it mimics are the ones cats release to calm and reassure other cats.

It is the most popular product used for reducing anxiety, stress, and aggression problems in cats.

Licking grocery bags! This is actually a surprisingly popular habit! My Leo does it (he chews too), as do countless other cats. No one really knows why they do it, but there is speculation it has to do with the animal fats that are in the plastic. I know, yuck!

All The Best With Your Girl,
~Carrie




Aggressive Cat Behavior - Protective Male

by: Joni
(Edwardsville IL)

I adopted a one year old maine coon from the humane society. From the beginning, he was a low fear, high sociability, high aggression cat. He loved spending time with me, but I had the scars and scratches to show for it.

Over time, he became less aggressive, and he still greets everyone who comes to the house by jumping on the tv stand and waiting for them to acknowledge him. However, if they try to pet him, he will swat them or scratch them.

If workmen come to the house, he follows them everywhere, but doesn't want them to pet him. He sleeps by my head, but sometimes claws me or bites down on me when I touch him. He's very emotionally attached to me, but can't seem to stop himself from being aggressive.

What can I do to get him to be less aggressive? My friends and family are afraid of this wonderful cat!

PS. He is now 3 years old and in great health.

Reply:
Hi Joni,

It sounds like your boy has a purely behavioral issue. He's misbehaving, but may not even know that he is. He didn't have the advantage of a nurturing home environment during the first year, when he was learning how to interact with others.

I'm glad to hear you still think the world of him. I think a little re-training is in order, and he'll be a gentleman for you and your guests!

First, the scratching: You can minimize it's effects immediately through a couple of measures. Clipping his claws with cat clippers will take the sting away.

By clipping, he learns that his claws are not a tool for dominance. They're neutralized, and he loses that "leverage".

The biting and general dominance: He's still trying to establish his place in the household. In multiple cat households, one cat will be Alpha. They'll establish their position through swatting, biting and generally attacking the others in a display of hierarchy.

Since you are the "other" cat, he's doing it with you and other people! He'll be fine if you gently show him who's boss. He's very secure, so I don't mind advising the use of a small water bottle.

When he is sitting on the tv stand ready to attack, get ready (hide the bottle behind your back) Try giving him a small squirt on the body, not face, right when he attacks someone. You must have it in hand, ready to go. Skip it if you have to go get it. Just a little squirt, enough to distract him.

Alternatively, if you don't have one handy you could try blowing on him, or gently tapping his nose.

I stress for all those reading this: Cats can be trained, just like dogs (especially Maine Coon cats!) These measures are gentle taps and other distractions that do not harm a a cat in any way. They will redirect his aggressive cat behavior and make him forget the trouble he was getting into.

Within short order, he'll be able to greet guests without attacking them. He may not want to be petted, but if he can be a gentleman he should get a treat! The goal is for him to associate "being social" with a treat, not a show of dominance. If your guest approached him with a treat in hand, it's very unlikely he'll attack them.

Good luck and keep us updated!
~Carrie

Comments:

A pat on the head
When it cam time for me to discipline my cat, I would lightly tap him on the head and sharply say "No." After a while, just saying "no" did the trick and after then, he eventually stopped the clawing.

Aggressive Maine Coon
I've tried all of above he likes water and doesn't mind being squirted and have tried distractions but he's still aggressive toward me luv him to death help

Noah's Aggression
by: Noah's Mom

We just adopted a mainecoon Noah back in FEB. He is agreed a gentle soul but, he is biting. I to have just started with the water bottle but, he loves water and doesn't seem to mind it, my other problem is we named him "Noah" so we quickly learned that we couldn't use "no" we now have started using Stop it.

We do however have an older female (13) and he will not seem to leave her alone. She is a mere 7-8 lbs and he is much much bigger then her. I am worried that he will hurt her. She does fight back but, you can tell she is tired of it & I have no idea how to stop him?

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Top of Aggression Q & A's

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