I have a 6 year old tabby cat. I have had him since he was around 10 weeks old.

In the past approximately two years he has started to hate strangers coming over. It started about a year ago when my friend's sister was watching him and had a friend over. He sniffed around her stuff, seemed anxious then attacked her. And when I describe his attacking, I mean as vicious a cat attack as I have seen anywhere, and I include television in that.

It got to a point today where my girlfriend had a colleague staying with us. He attacked her, my girlfriend and myself (scratching and hissing). It got to such an awful point her colleague started to cry. Obviously I felt awful about this.

Normally, I'd try to give him a time out in another room, but I can't pick him up because he attacks me viciously whenever I try to get near him. He seems incredibly anxious and scared.

I feel like I have tried everything - distracting him, giving him treats, playing with him, but nothing seems to work.

It has now got to the stage where he will periodically attack me in a hugely vicious manner. He often leaves me bleeding. I really want to correct this behaviour, but I can't do anything when he attacks. He seems blinded by rage. I just have to get out of his way and let him calm down a little, but I'm a prisoner in my own home.

Would love to know how to train him out of this - can't even have friends over at the moment and honestly I fear for my safety.

To note: I have tried Feliway but it seems to only make him more angry.

  • 1
    Have you taken him to a vet yet? Overdue, if not.
    – keshlam
    Jun 6, 2016 at 22:57
  • I have taken him to a vet and they cant seem to find anything wrong with him
    – Ross M
    Jun 6, 2016 at 23:03

3 Answers 3


I think it would be beneficial to have a cat behaviourist pay a visit, and observe the cat in your home, and observe how you interact with him. There are probably things that you're doing (without being aware of them) that exacerbate the problem. Your vet or local animal shelter can probably recommend someone.

But I do have some suggestions that may help. You describe the cat as being angry or experiencing rage, but you also describe him as anxious and scared. In fact, I think the cat is acting almost entirely out of fear. And as you and your girlfriend are naturally becoming more anxious around him, it exacerbates the problem.

So we need to focus on making the cat feel safe and secure in his home. Set up some places where he can observe things from a height. A cat tree in the living room (or wherever you spend most of your time) would be great. It would be best if he has the option of walking around the room without ever touching the floor.

Also, I would look at how you pet him. Some cats are overstimulated if you pet them from the head, along the body, toward the tail. Try just petting the head, e.g. scratching the ears and stroking the cheeks. Watch his body language, too: If the tip of the tail is twitching, he's getting overstimulated, and if the tail is lashing about, you've gone too far. And certainly don't roughhouse with him the way you might with a dog.

I would trim his claws so that if he does attack he won't do as much harm, and so that you'll be less worried about the possibility that he might attack. I realise that if you're having difficulty picking him up, then trimming his claws yourself might be too much of a challenge, but you could get a groomer to do it. Then, as the cat gets calmer, you can take over the job. Remember that you only need to do the front paws, and you can do one nail one day, and another nail another day.

  • Thank you, I appreciate the advice. To be honest there are whole long periods of time where he is acting fine so cutting his claws is fine. He is fine with my girlfriend and doesnt attack her. He only attacks me sometimes, but will try to attack strangers all the time. I wouldn't say we over pet him but I will try to watch with that
    – Ross M
    Jun 7, 2016 at 20:33

Both my maine coons had Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome (FPS). To stop the attack, which is actually seizure, your veterinarian should give your cat gabapentin - and your cat will never do it again.

My present Maine Coon will sleep cuddly beside my face and then in the middle of the night swap my face to awake me and his eyes are "wide open" and he is ready to attack my face. The gabapentin stops this altogether. I give it to him at night, 1 hour before bedtime.

Trust me, as this is my second Maine Coon with Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome. My last cat lived until 14 years with it.


First and foremost - thank you for not giving up on him. It sounds as though you love him a lot and are willing to work at changing his behavior. What's his name?

You wrote: "In the past approximately two years he has started to hate strangers coming over. It started about a year ago when my friends sister was watching him and had a friend over." Could you clarify if this fearful behavior has been going on for one year or two? I'm a bit confused. I'm trying to pin down what the initial trigger was to see how that's been reinforced over a specific time range.

Also, could you describe the vet visit he had? Was it a basic examination or did he have blood work done? I'm assuming he's neutered, and don't mean to insult you by suggesting he's not. Was it a repeat visit with his usual vet, or was it the first time he's been to that vet - or any vet - in his life?

I urge you to start watching a show on the Animal Planet channel, "My Cat From Hell," with Jackson Galaxy. Not only will you get solid advice to start using right now, but you won't feel so alone. He has some videos on YouTube, as well. There are clips from the show on Animal Planet's website.

I agree with the wombat that getting your kitty to some high ground might afford him some feeling of control. Make sure not to let him get so high that you can't reach him quickly.

These two suggestions could give you two quick steps you can take to reduce anxiety in both you and your cat. I doubt there will be a quick and easy way to fix the whole problem, but assure you that if he's physically normal, it can be done. It might even be easier and/or quicker than you think. If he has a physical problem (pain, brain wiring, etc.), that can be tracked down, too.

  • 1
    I came back to add a "My Cat From Hell" recommendation to my answer, and was glad to see that someone else had suggested it. In particular, I would recommend the first season, as those episodes have the most aggressive cats, and would be most directly relevant to you. In later seasons, they branch out more into other types of problems.
    – mhwombat
    Jun 8, 2016 at 16:33

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