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Our cat (domestic short hair moggy) has recently turned 10. I have had him for the entirety of his life, and he’s been fine the whole time until about 9 months ago.

We have always done our best to keep him indoors however he escapes from time to time. Our neighbour of 4+ years often takes him in while we’re at work if he gets out, which is good as he’s not out trying to hunt animals etc. 9 months ago, he was accidentally let out, went over to our neighbour’s place and sat on her couch with her as usual. What was unusual however was when she was patting him as usual, he without any usual warning (flicking tail, noise etc) bit her arm very hard and scratched etc non-stop until her son stopped him and put him outside. He’s never been violent in the past, but this has been the start of ongoing attacks. He is now damaging furniture, scratching at doors, biting my wife and I without provocation/touch, swiping at us as we walk around the house, spraying everywhere indoors (makes a point of coming up to us to spray when we’re sitting down) and constantly crying/yowling. He doesn’t want any physical touch but seems to crave our attention as always.

We of course took him to our local vet who ran a blood test and urine test, could find nothing physically wrong and suggested it’s possible there’s a new cat prowling in our area causing him to spray to re-establish his domain. There are a few neighbourhood outdoor cats but the usual suspects haven’t changed - we’ve kept an eye out for this. We have also at our vet’s suggestion altered his food to a better brand, which made no difference. The vet prescribed a pill which was meant to improve his mood swings etc, we noticed an extremely minor improvement for about a week but now it’s not making any difference at all.

We’ve bought him treats, made little food puzzles for him, new toys and things to occupy his time which he largely ignores. He has always had regular treatment of flea/deworming medicines, and was desexed very early on.

We are at a complete loss as to what to do. I feel that it’s inhumane to surrender him as my wife and I and our home is all he’s ever known, but at the same time we can’t keep him like this.

We welcome any and all advice you may have to give us.

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  • Any stray cats in the area? A feral male might be spraying his territorial marker. Not sure what you can do if that's the problem.
    – Boba Fit
    May 2, 2023 at 12:46

2 Answers 2

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If it has not been ruled out already, I would advise asking your vet to check for arthritis / arthrosis. This would not be unusual at 10 years of age and can go unnoticed even if it is quite severe already.

Being touched in the affected area, e.g. the lower back if the spine is affected, can lead to sudden jolts of intense pain and might explain sudden aggression when being pet, and a general aversion to being touched.


Apart from this, at this age loss of vision and hearing might be a factor as well, and those can go unnoticed for quite a while too, as cats that gradually lose vision and hearing tend to adapt quite well and may still navigate familiar territory without anyone noticing.

Since loss of senses makes the cat more vulnerable, sudden aggression might occur, e.g. when being touched from an angle where no sensory cues warn them of the imminent touch, or when they take longer to recognize a familiar person while feeling generally vulnerable.


Problems with teeth also are a major cause of aggression in older cats, but most vets will typically take at least a quick glance. In any case, if it has not been ruled out, I'd ask the vet for a quick check and their opinion if further inspection is warranted.


Thyroid function being out of balance and diabetes are issues that in some cases might manifest in aggression, but given blood and urine panels are done already, this seems to be less likely here.


While this might sound like a lot of things to worry about, all of these can be managed without problems once they are known.

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Is your cat fixed? If your cat is trying to go outside, but has been mostly inside all of his life, I am thinking something happened to him. Honestly , it seems to me he was attacked by a stranger, that may have looked a bit like your neighbor. He probably went up to them ( the stranger) thinking he would get his normal reception of love and instead was hit or something ( there are nasty people out there). This would be his reaction.

As to the spraying in the house. Use lemon juice after you wash the area with soap, spray it on the area and mop it up. The cat won't smell that area as a "scent" area The lemon will destroy any residual traces that your cat can smell from the original scent. Fixing the your cat will most likely solve the spray situation.

Another item that may be causing your fur baby to be spraying and acting out may be the litter box, what type of litter are you using? I found using walnut litter is amazing not only does it not smell, but it doesn't track and it is dust free, if you are away all day, you might consider it to make him happier.

Also the stop the desire to go outside, I found a really neat trick it won't be pretty for a few weeks but it works, place 4 strips of cardboard on the windows horizontally. At the end of each week, take the top most piece of cardboard off the window. Do this for three weeks eventually your windows will be revealed but the cat will no longer be interested in the outside world. Nor trying to escape. You will find the spraying ( if he was fixed) will stop as well.

P.S. as an after thought have you tried a "raw" type foods? I use Instinct ( but I live in Canada so not sure if you can get it there, Ted.E.Bear likes the duck). It helps with old age and makes sure your boy will get enough taurine and doesn't pump it full of crap he can't digest, like corn. Also a small bit of canned food twice a day it can be any old crap I am using fancy feast ( my boys tend to live to 16). Just don't use Friskies they changed the recipe and my boys were getting sick from it until I changed. Yes, I did try all the expensive stuff but it really doesn't make a difference, it was the dry stuff with the bits of raw freeze dried meat that did.

Hope this helps, and wasn't to long winded.

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  • Welcome to pets.SE! Would you please add one or two sentences, where your experience comes from? Own cat with the same problem? Website or book you could link, so the OP can research further? May 5, 2023 at 5:21

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