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Cat suddenly bites or scratches.

Species: Cat
Breed: 'Moggy'
Age: 5-8 years
Hi there....i have a beautiful BIG moggy who is a 'lovecat' - very affectionate - and she is, and always has been a 'housecat'. She will sit next to me purring quite happily..but on occasions, for NO apparent reason, suddenly will'turn' on me, try to nip and/or scratch me, and hiss and spit! Then she will go back to cleaning herself, snd carry on sitting next to me! Needless to say I leave it a while before showing her TOO much affection after this. She is a rescue cat but to the best of my knowledge has NEVER been mistreated as a kitten. She is quite heavy also - I NEVER overfeed her, incidentally - and it is just impossible for me to pick her up to take her to the vet for say, a general check up, as she goes absolutely bananas, and scratches and hisses...I live alone so have no help in this respect. I have had cats all my life, but never one so 'unpredictable' - yet so affectionate - as this! Any ideas welcome. Many thanks.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I have seen a number of cats who act like this. In fact, one of my own cats will occasionally decide that she wants to bite or scratch for no apparent reason. Often there is no particular reason for cats to suddenly lash out like this.

I'm not likely to be able to solve your problem but I can give you a few ideas.

First of all, some cats are particularly sensitive on different parts of their body. One common area for sensitivity is the end of the back (near the tail). Often when you are petting a cat there they will act like they are really really enjoying it and then suddenly they get overstimulated and start to bite. If you notice that Missy bites after you have been touching certain areas then the answer would be to not pet her in those areas. (Similarly, many cats will do this when their belly is being pet.)

If you do feel like Missy is sensitive on her back, then one thing to consider is to put a prescription strength flea preventative on her. Some cats are so sensitive to fleas that just one flea bite can make them super irritated. Many times, there is no outward evidence of fleas. But I have had cats that had anger issues that were much better behaved after a flea treatment.

You could look at purchasing something called Feliway. You can buy Feliway as a plugin that releases pheromone into the air. Humans can't detect any smell, but it will help cats to feel more relaxed and can reduce aggressive behavior. There is scientific evidence for this as well - it's not just a well advertised product.

Another thing that could really help is a medication such as Reconcile or Clomicalm or Amitriptyline. However, these are medicines that would have to be prescribed by your vet and your vet would likely want to examine Missy in order to prescribe these.

If this was a new behavior for Missy I would wonder about a possible pain issue. If this was my case, I might consider trying a pain medication to see if it makes a difference. Cats can often hide their pain and it can be hard to determine what the issue is. However, once again, you'd need to have your vet examine Missy in order to get medication. There is no over the counter pain medication that is safe for cats.

Unfortunately this can be something that there is no "cure" for. I have seen some cats where it is just in their nature to have bouts of aggressive behavior.

Hopefully things look up soon!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.