Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

When petting a cat, do not activate the kill cycle,

Does your cat get overstimulated when you pet her? Mine do.

P is for petting a cat on the A to Z blogging challenge!

They look so innocent, don't they? Yet today, I'm sporting an enormous claw-gash-bruise on my leg thanks to Pierre's hind foot digging into my thigh when he got pissed off at me.

Cats never let you forget that they're still partially wild. It is said that a dog, even if raised without human companionship, can become tame, but a cat will always remain feral. I'm not sure that is true, but I do know that too much petting can turn even the friendliest cat into a shredding maniac if you're not careful.

There's actually a name for this condition: petting-induced aggression.  According to the Animal Humane Society, cats have different thresholds for permitting human touch. Some will let you pet them forever. Others lash out almost immediately.

I guess it's the same with people. Some of us don't mind hugs from others, while some people back off like you've got the plague if you want to hug or touch them.

As for our cats, we need to learn to read their body language. Cats do give you a warning sign before the attack. I didn't heed Pierre's warning signs - pinned ears, constricted pupils, even a few growls. Learn how to read your cat's body language to prevent those petting-induced aggression attacks.

Lastly, the furry belly. Ah, the furry belly. I love it when cats roll over and show you their furry belly. Some people say that this is a sign of trust. Cats are predators, and the belly is the area where an attack can be deadly. Exposing the furry belly is a sign of trust.

Others say that it is a sign of impending aggression because it frees all four claws for an attack. With Pierre, that's very true. He loves to shred you when you reach over to touch his belly. He was raised by a man, and he loves my husband John who enjoys rough-housing with him. I don't appreciate it, but I do know that to touch the belly is sudden death for your hands.

Petting-induced aggression includes biting, clawing, and growling when the cat has had enough of being petted. The real key to avoiding injuries is to learning your cat's unique vocabulary and respecting it.

Now if only we can get cats to respect humans.....

P is for petting-induced aggression. A to Z blogging challenge, of which I've been quite lax but I keep plugging away at it...


  1. One of our cats definitely has a quick switch between loving the petting and hating it. She bites, lightly, but hard enough that you know she means business. Usually I can see the signs, but she caught me about a week ago. Our other cat just gets incredibly snarly and then wanders off, but usually doesn't lash out. Strange (but lovely!) little creatures :)

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

  2. My brother's cats will attack when petted. I had no idea why before now. Thanks for this.

    Liz A. from
    Laws of Gravity
    Unicorn Bell

  3. I have 2 that get over stimulated and lash out. They approach me for petting then quickly change their minds.

  4. I have had my share of feral cats and some do come out of it, but it seems most retain that innate fear that makes them nervous nellies. My Evie cat for instance was very well-adjusted while her niece, Mel, is still a sketchball (my son's term for nervous nellie cats). Luckily none of my present cats have that lashing out problem.

  5. As a former vet tech & pet sitter business owner, and a rescuer for over 35 years, yes! This is real. We still have an extra-sensitive one. ~McGuffy's Reader~

  6. I never knew about this but I have experienced the switch in behavior.
    Im blogging from Fill the cracks and Moondustwriter's Blog. Happy last week of A to Zing!