I have a recent issue exacerbated by the fact that I'm allergic to cats. We adopted a cat ~4 years ago, and she took a liking to me. These past couple years I'm her "favorite", she ignores the other people in the house, and enjoys spending as much time as she can either curled on me or near me. She is needy, almost too needy for me. She will completely ignore someone else's offer for pets and attention and will spend almost all her 'social' time trying to get my attention or at least lay against me.

She had an old problem where she would randomly attack people. Over time we learned that this was generally overstimulation and we just weren't paying attention to her "Done" signals when she wanted out. Usually this would be her attacking the arm or hand of whoever was petting her. However with some (people) training, this isn't a problem we have really had this past year or two.

A few weeks ago, she attacked my face. As far as I can remember, I had just laid down in bed ~3am, and she was begging for attention (she loves pets on the bed). She laid down near me, I pet her for a bit, passed out, then woke up to her mauling my face.

Just today she did it for a second time. She was sleeping on my lap, went off to eat, then came back laying on my lap. I'm working, so I didn't really give her much attention beyond when I welcomed her on my lap. She's usually fine with this, and is perfectly normal. Randomly she leaps up and again mauls my face.

The common things I know that lead into this is eye contact (was staring at the screen), and overstimulation (I was not touching her). I'm concerned there's some signal I'm missing out on, and more concerned that it's somehow understimulation (she's mad that I'm not giving her attention) since I frankly cannot give her as much attention as she often wants.

The other coincidence is that both attacks happened the day after my girlfriend took off for a trip, though it's too few times to really know if that's at all a factor. She does give the cat some attention, but the cat usually ignores her.

Any ideas on why this might be happening? Any ideas on what I can do to prevent this issue?

  • you said the cat "mauled" your face. was it just grabbing your face without the claws? or did the cat actually draw blood?
    – PandaPants
    Sep 19, 2018 at 10:06
  • @PandaPants Claws around the side of my face and back of my neck, bite on my lip. She seems to have poor control of her claws (often getting stuck) and uses them often.
    – user2579
    Sep 19, 2018 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


Another possibility is the hunting drive of your cat. It could be that you twitched in your sleep and triggered the attack of your cat.

If she attacks people's legs or toes when they're walking by and dashes for any moving toy, she might have a strong hunting drive. Some cats simply have a stronger instinct than others, and it's a personality trait like in dogs.

If that's the case, you should offer more entertainment like toys and actual playtime (don't let the toys lie around, use them to play with your cat). Toys formed like fishing rods are very practical because you can let the cat run around a lot without moving too much yourself.

  • +1 for the hunting drive. My cat attacked my face for years until she grew out of it. She also attacked my leg and even peed on my foot once when I told her "no." (And I was her favorite!) She was a strong and fierce hunter, leaving "presents" at our door if we let her outside. I eventually learned to sleep with my face protected by covers. I am not aware of a successful way to train a cat to stop doing this. This is her personality; thankfully mine did grow out of it, but it took years.
    – Laura
    Sep 18, 2018 at 21:53

Cats are neurotic.

Sometimes there is a reason why they are doing something hidden in their feline language, and sometimes they are just following whatever thought happened to follow into their brain. When cats are little, their mother teaches them manners and which behaviors are correct or not. Compounded with cats who were taken from their mothers early, this can lead to a cat who is unusually mean or violent.

At this point, I would take to correcting the cat that this behavior is not acceptable, perhaps with a puff of air or a water squirt.

You can also decide not to let the cat fall asleep on you anymore as that's when these situations have arisen.

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