There are times when I feel that my cat can actually read my mind. When I am feeling upset or totally frustrated about my life, he knows how to slowly walk toward me, rub himself on my face and flop down next to me while comforting me with his hearty purrs.
On some days, it feels like my cat’s behavior is borderline psychotic. I can be having a meltdown and my cat starts to act aggressively before me by trying to bite my feet.
Why do some cats bite or attack their owners who are crying? When a cat bites its owner who is crying, it might be due to the crying that triggers a flight or light reaction in the cat. This can cause the cat to become overwhelmed and attack whoever might be crying.
Let us try to take a deeper look and why some cats react in this weird way and if there’s anything that we can do to prevent it from happening.
Can Cats Sense When You Are Crying?
Cats have always gotten a bad rep as being aloof and uncaring creatures but there is a lot more to their sensitive side than we give them credit for.
You might not realize it but our domestic cats are capable of forming a social bond with us. They look to us for comfort and security and can also give us the same in return.
A study conducted in 2020 has found that cats are able to recognize our emotional state via acoustic and visual emotional signals. Cats might not be able to tune in as deeply as dogs but they have developed adequate ‘social skills’ to recognize human emotions like sadness and happiness.
I noticed this subtle change in my cat’s behavior when I was pretty sad for a period of time due to the passing of a close relative. My cat isn’t the most affectionate feline but he was rather sticky and cuddly with me at that time. Even more so at night when it’s bedtime. He rarely sleeps the whole night in my bed but he was there when I woke up almost every other night.
He started reverting back to his usual routine and affectionate level when I started to snap out of my mourning period.
You can try observing your cat’s behavior when you are feeling sad to see how it reacts toward you. I understand that trying to be a ‘stay home pet scientist’ is the last thing on your mind at such times but just take a minute or two to see how your cat notices your change in emotions.
Why Does My Cat Bite Me When I Cry?
Unfortunately, not all cats will react tenderly towards their crying owners all the time. Some cats are known to become aggressive and turn on their owners by biting or scratching. But why would your cat freak out and bite you when you are shedding a tear or two?
Here are some possible reasons.
Your Cat Is Acting On Instinct
Animals operate on instinct than on rationale. The sound of a human crying might sound like a wounded animal or the shriek of a predator to your cat. That signals that something isn’t right and that you and your cat are in danger. Kittens will cry out loudly for their mother’s attention when they sense danger too.
Your cat regards you as part of the family and might be trying to bite and carry you away from the source of the danger.
It might seem comical to us that a cat would try to carry us but that is just your cat’s protective instinct kicking in. Your cat is biting you out of concern rather than aggression.
Your Cat Is Sensitive To Loud Sounds
Your cat’s sense of hearing is many times more sensitive than a human’s. We share the same low-end hearing range as a cat but when it comes to the higher range, a cat can hear up to 64,000 Hz compared to 15,000 Hz in a human.
This means that a cat is able to hear sounds that we can’t even detect.
Not only that.
A cat’s ear is also built to funnel the sound into the ear canal to amplify it. This allows the cat to accurately track the location of a prey or predator.
Imagine if your cat is hearing you cry or scream out in fear, that sound is coming a lot more intensely than to another human.
Your loud crying or screaming can easily terrify your cat which will then trigger its primal instincts. Your cat can become defensive and lash out at you even though you have a close bond with it.
There’s no way your cat would have known that you are crying because your goldfish died.
Your Cat Isn’t Spayed
As cat lovers, it is important that we get our cats sterilized. This helps to prevent unwanted pregnancies and other health issues in our cats. You can notice a change in your female cat’s behavior after getting spayed.
Some unspayed female cats can be more aggressive when they are in heat due to all the changes in their hormonal levels. The cat may lash out at the owner when sensing a change in emotion or due to the crying sound.
Your Cat Was Weaned Too Early
It is important to not remove a kitten from its mother too early as doing so can lead to behavioral problems as the kitten gets older.
A good time to adopt a kitten is when it is about 12-15 weeks old and has been weaned off its mother. At this age, the kitten is usually well-socialized and can behave appropriately.
Little kittens are taught proper boundaries by the mother and other litter mates. They are disciplined when they get too rough with their teeth and nails.
The mother cat will get a bit rough with the culprit to let it know that such behavior is not acceptable.
Something Else Spooked Your Cat
Not only does your cat have extraordinary hearing, its sense of smell is also out of this world. A cat’s sense of smell is 40x more sensitive than ours which means they can smell odors in the air that we can’t even detect.
Imagine that your unspayed cat is already starting to feel rather freaked out by your strong emotions and crying. The smell of other cats wandering outside your home might be enough to push your cat over the edge.
Cats are able to gather a bunch of information about another cat by just smelling its pheromones. There might be something about the other cat that your cat doesn’t like.
An unhappy, confused and aggressive cat is bad news.
Do Cats Care If You Cry?
Cats do care when we cry or are feeling sad but not in ways that we think they do. Our cats aren’t really equipped with empathy for us and how they respond to our moods is actually a learned response.
Cats are very observant and are meant to be to help them survive in the wild. My cat knows my own home better than me but he’s always on the alert for ‘something unexpected’.
I’ve no idea what that is as he’s totally safe as an indoor cat but cats are just wired that way.
Your cat is able to recognize when you are crying or sad but isn’t equipped to comfort you like another human can. The change in emotional state will create a sense of curiosity in your cat and it will observe your reactions towards it.
I love to cuddle and kiss my cat when I’m feeling down so my cat will begin to associate me feeling sad with those reactions when he comes to me.
This doesn’t mean that your cat doesn’t care about you. Many cats will lick, lay next to their owners and even purr to try and comfort them like how they would another cat.
How Can I Prevent My Cat From Attacking Me?
There are some ways that you can try to employ to protect yourself when you sense trouble brewing.
Learn To Read Your Cat
Our cats can’t speak but their body language speaks volumes about their current emotional state.
Here are some signs that your cat is feeling hostile:
- Body turned sideways
- Puffed up tail
- Showing teeth and claws
- Charging at you and backing up
When your cat is behaving this way, do not even try to touch or pacify your cat. Remove yourself from the same room and go to another room without your cat.
Only approach your cat once you are sure that it has calmed down.
Distract Your Cat
If your cat is showing signs of aggression but you are confident that it won’t attack you, you can try to distract and refocus its attention on something else.
Try not to carry your cat somewhere else as they can provoke your cat into attacking you. Distract it with a toy or a feather wand to try and shake it out of its current emotional state.
Do Not Hit Your Cat
I understand that you are not in the best of moods yourself and it is easy to get angry at your cat for behaving this way. But please do not lose your temper and hit your cat.
Doing so will only make the situation worse and hitting your cat can also cause it to be injured.
Do not take what your cat is doing personally. It isn’t out to annoy you or seeking revenge. Cats do not necessarily know that they have hurt you as they are just acting out on their primal feline instinct.
Why Does My Cat Attack Me When My Baby Cries?
There are a couple of things at work when your cat freaks out when the baby cries. It could be biting you to alert you of your baby’s crying. A crying sound to a cat means “DANGER DANGER” and it is acting out on its own protective instincts.
The crying sound of the baby can also agitate or scare your cat which is making it behave aggressively. It might be attacking you because you are the closest one to the cat when it lashed out.
Why Does My Cat Lick Me When I Cry?
Your cat is licking you when you cry because it is making an attempt to soothe you and calm you down. Mother cats will lick their kittens to try and comfort them when they are feeling scared or anxious. By licking her kittens, she is spreading more of her scent on their fur which gives the kittens a sense of comfort and security,