Cats who attack strangers are not happy campers; they can also be dangerous. Your first priority must be to protect everybody from injury. While teaching the virtues of nonviolence it’s also important that your cat’s behavior not worsen. The two big reasons for cats to be hostile toward visitors: fear and territorial aggression.

Fear Aggression

  • Frightened cats may have had a negative experience that was associated with strangers.
  • They’ll do whatever they can to avoid confrontation. If hissing, growling, and retreating fail, they lash out.
  • Attempts to help will fail miserably if your kitty is pushed too fast.

Fear aggressive cats need time and patience.

  • Having visitors quietly enter the room and avoid eye contact with your cat will be a good start.
  • Tasty treats gently rolled toward a frightened kitty can slowly teach her that guests are safe.
  • Desensitization like this must happen painstakingly slowly. Over several months and, in some cases with the help of antianxiety medications, a cat like yours can do fine.

Territorial Aggression

  • These cats are very different creatures; they make their intentions abundantly clear. They have no interest in anybody getting past their fence. They are the Minute Men of border security, who boldly advance on visitors and take no prisoners.
  • The prognosis for real improvement is usually poor.
  • We have had some success with medications.
  • Isolate a territorial cat when guests are expected.

Be careful. A cat overcome with aggression, regardless of the cause, should never be handled.

  • Unable to reach their intended target an angry cat may “redirect” her aggression and lay waste to parts of your body.
  • Cat bite wounds can get seriously infected.
  • Your best defense is to back up, turn off the lights, and leave the room until the heat dies down.