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Why Does My Cat Attack Me When I Sniff Her?

Cats are intriguing pets to have. Each cat is not like the other, with its own personality except for one thing.

Cats are great about telling you when they are happy. They are loud and proud about this. So why is your cat unhappy that you may be sniffing her?

There are many reasons why your cat could be attacking you when you do this. But most likely, your cat is setting a boundary with you, letting you know they don’t like your action.

However, it is not always that simple. There are many reasons that the sniffing may not specifically cause.

To figure out why your cat is behaving this way, continue reading about what you can do to help your cat.

Why does my cat attack me when I sniff her?

So why does your cat attack you when you sniff her? It could be a plethora of reasons, but most likely, your cat is setting its boundary with you.

It doesn’t like the behavior being presented. Here are some of the other possible reasons:

  • Sniffing is considered aggression.
  • Your cat is stressed.
  • Sniffing triggers trauma.
  • Your cat is not comfortable with it.
  • They may not feel safe.
  • They are bored.

Sniffing is considered aggression

Sniffing usually occurs when animals are greeting a strange animal.

Your cat may consider this sniffing as an act of aggression because you are coming into their personal space and don’t know what to do with this information.

Your cat can see it as a sign of aggression, especially if you have never shown them this behavior before.

They will assume the behavior is abnormal and think you are coming in for an attack. So, they respond before you can do any harm to them.

Your cat is stressed

Just like humans, cats can be stressed out as well. When you are stressed out, you don’t like to be bothered, and anything can trigger you to become aggressive.

This is the same for your cat. They may be stressed, and your sniffing may have caused it to attack you.

If your cat is new to the home, try to let it get used to not only you but the environment before trying new behaviors with it.

It needs time to get accustomed to its surroundings, which will not happen in one day. It may take a few days, if not several weeks.

Sniffing triggers trauma

Your cat may have some bad memories that involve sniffing. Maybe a dog attacked them after sniffing them, or something similar.

This action of this old trauma may trigger your cat, and your pet will attack you to prevent the trauma from happening again even though it isn’t.

You may see this more often in stray cats or cats with previous owners. Remember, you may not know all their traumas, and it is a learning process not only for you but for them.

Allow some time for your cat to get used to you and the new environment. Learn their traumas and try to show them you are safe.

Your cat is not comfortable with it

Your cat could attack you to set a boundary. We all have our quirks where we don’t like certain behaviors being done to us.

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This is the cat’s way of telling you they don’t like it. They don’t want you to continue doing it.

They may not feel safe

When a cat shows aggression, sometimes it could mean they don’t feel safe. They don’t feel safe that you are behaving the way you are.

It may just be because the behavior is new or maybe they aren’t used to you being so close in such a way. 

They are bored

They could be bored and see this sniffing as a method of you initiating a play fight. To see if this is why ensure your cat doesn’t seem aggressive but more playful.

When they don’t have much to distract them, this could be them trying to expend that extra energy.

Why Do Cats Attack You When You Sniff Them

Other possible behaviors associated with sniffing

There are many behaviors that will come with your cat sniffing you. They may purr and enjoy the fact they are getting attention, but they may also have negative behaviors.

Here are some possible behaviors you may find when you sniff your pet:

  1. Biting
  2. Swatting
  3. Purring
  4. Cuddling
  5. Scratching
  6. Hissing
  7. Growling
  8. Trying to flee

Try not to force your cat to experience this behavior if they are aggressive towards you. This is them communicating to you what they think of the behavior.

Allow them to get used to you and this behavior over some time if necessary, or just don’t sniff your cat.

Warning signs to look out for

Not every cat will attack you out of the blue when you sniff them. They may have given you some warning signs before, and you may have missed them.

Look out for any of these signs, so you know your cat is about to attack:

  • Rigid posture.
  • Tail fluffs out.
  • Ears set backward.
  • A low growl.
  • Fur is standing up.
  • Arched back.

If you notice any of these signs, your cat is trying to tell you it is about to attack. Not all cats will give warning signs, but most do.

Be sure to pay attention to their body language as it is their means of communication with you.

Is this behavior normal?

You know your cat the best. You can tell if the behavior is normal or not, as all cats are different, and some may attack after sniffing while others don’t.

If your cat has never attacked you before, you may test whether it is the act of sniffing that caused this or something else. Be careful when doing this.

It may be that your cat just doesn’t like this behavior, and it is best to stop.

If your cat is all-around aggressive, sniffing or not, you may want to contact your vet about this behavior. Definitely do so if this behavior is way out of character and your cat does not seem like itself.

If your cat’s behavior seems a little off, you may want to look out for the following signs to see if the behavior is abnormal:

  • Excessive self-grooming
  • Hiding constantly and not socializing like usual
  • Sleeping more
  • Crying or meowing when going to the restroom
  • Sudden aggression towards other people or items
  • Sucking on fabric or wool
  • Eating things that are not food
  • Changes in eating or drinking
  • Pooping or peeing outside of the litter box
  • Aggression towards other pets it normally likes

If you notice any of these behaviors along with aggression, contact your vet. They will need to run some tests to ensure there are no underlying diseases causing this aggression.

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What can you do to help them?

What to do if your cat doesnt like to be sniffed

You can do many things to make your cat feel comfortable and safe. If you see this behavior happening, here are some things you can do to help them:

  • Respect their boundaries.
  • Make them feel safe.
  • Ensure their mood is right.
  • Give them distractions.
  • Keep their nails trimmed.
  • Figure out the trigger and remove it.
  • Slowly acclimate them to the sniffing.

Any behaviors you see your cat doing are a way to communicate with you. If they are showing a negative response to something, it means they don’t like it, causing them to experience some negative feelings.

When your cat shows a positive response, they enjoy the behaviors you show to them. Take these behaviors as cues on how your cat wants to be treated. It is the best method to tell you what is on their mind.

Climb, Hide, Scratch, Rest

If you don’t already have a cat tree, this is the time to consider getting one because a cat tree can actually solve many of the above issues all in one place.

Here are some reasons to do so:

  1. Cats love heights. If you put a cat tree under a window, your cat will spend all her time checking out the view outside.
  2. The vertical post of a cat tree mimics a tree to encourage scratching, which keeps their nails trimmed while reducing a lot of stress.
  3. The podiums and shelters allow your cat to rest and hide from you or other animals in your house. This gives your cat enough personal space before your next playtime.
  4. Finally, if you get a really pretty cat tree by Polly & Molly (like the one in the photo below), you will be envied by other cat owner friends who visit your house. They run a 10% discount pretty often so no harm in checking them out.

Should my cat see a vet?

Your cat attacking you when you sniff them isn’t completely abnormal behavior. Especially if this is the first time you’ve done it and this is the first time they have responded this way.

If this is the first time, you don’t have to worry about involving your veterinarian.

However, if this is ongoing behavior and it seems to worsen, you may want to get your cat checked out. Sometimes there could be other reasons for their behavior.

Medical issues can cause a behavior change and may be detrimental to your pet’s quality of life. 

If it seems your cat has changed tremendously and is showing higher levels of aggression than before, make an appointment with your vet.

They can run some tests to see if there are underlying conditions caused by hormonal imbalances or something else.


Your cat will tell you if you are in its personal space. Listen to your cat and its body language, so your cat doesn’t get mad at you.

Cat owners are well aware that an angry cat will not make life easier, and it will let you know it is angry.

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