Why Do Cats Growl? And How You Should Stop It

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There are times when you must have experienced your cat growling at something or someone. This someone can also be you.

Why Do Cats Growl

Why do they growl? Is it a reaction to something or someone they find intimidating, Or is it something else? Should I take it seriously? What should I do to their growls?

Let us step into their world and answer all these questions…

Why Do Cats Growl?

A cat growl may sound somewhat similar to a dog growl, when escalated it can turn to a hiss. There are many reasons for a cat growling, the most common one is because they want someone to stay away from them.[1]

To know for sure why they are growling, you would have to look at their body posture as well.
Let me explain some reasons behind your cat’s growling, triggers, and body posture.

Anger: If your cat is growling due to anger, you would want to stay away from it. It is the last sign that they are willing to attack you if you continue doing what you are doing.

Anger

When your cat is growling at someone when they are close, or they are doing something that your cat doesn’t like. It is a sign that your cat is furious and frustrated. When angry, your cat will have dilated eyes, an arched back, and both ears up.[1]

Fear: A cat will be frightened when they are surprised by a noise, stranger, or a smell. Any sudden actions or changes in their environment might scare them. When they are scared, their ears will go back, flat against their head with an erect tail and an arched back. Along with growling, they might hiss or meow loudly.

Fear

Warning: A cat warning should not be ignored. They will either growl or hiss a few times, consider this a warning, if not taken seriously they will hurt you. In some situations, cats would go into a defensive mode. They will have a crouched body with their ears flat, pupils dilated, whiskers back, tail wrapped around their body or in between their legs, and they will growl or hiss or meow very loudly.

Pain: If your cat is in pain, he will not show a different body posture, and still be growling[3]. It is possible that they may be suffering from some pain. It can be aching teeth or a urinary tract infection.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Is Growling?

When a cat is growling, he is under some kind of stress. Usually, cats go away if they are bothered, but when they are not able to move away, they will react by either growling or hissing.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Is Growling

It is usually best to leave your cat alone when it is growling, but sometimes they will also growl when they are stuck in a situation from where they are not able to get out by themselves, maybe there is another animal nearby, like a bear or a dog.

You can tell the reason your cat is growling just by looking at them, whether their eyes are dilated or contracted, they have an arched back, they have lowered their body, or their tail is up or down. All these can tell whether your cat is angry, sad or need your help, or wants you or the other creature to back away.[4]

What Should I Do When My Cat Is Growling?

What Should I Do When My Cat Is Growling

When a cat is growling you should try to look for the signs of why they are growling, cats can’t speak hence you will have to guess by their body language.[3] However, it is not recommended to try to console with physical touch, they might attack you.

You should not punish your cat. It will just make the situation worse. Try to calm him/her down by using your words. You should give them treats after they calm down.

FAQs

What does a low growl from a cat mean?

A low growl usually means a warning. A cat will growl low when he/she wants to scare off the intruder or any other cats whom they don’t want around. They are telling the intruder or a threat to back off or there will be consequences.

Is it normal for a cat to growl?

A cat can communicate with their body postures or by their vocals, as they cannot speak, they will make different kinds of noises along with different body stances to express themselves. When a cat growls, it means that they are agitated or scared of something around them.

Why do cats growl for no reason?

When a cat is growling for no reason, it can be that they are trying to tell you, they are going through some kind of pain.
The other reason may be that they don’t want you to pet them at that moment, or you are trying to pick them up when they just want to be left alone.

Conclusion

Now that you know what triggers them to growl and how to handle it, I’ll trust you to perform appropriate actions when needed.

Since you are still reading this, here’s a quote for you.

A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.― Ernest Hemingway

References:

  • Tavernier, C., Ahmed, S., Houpt, K. A., & Yeon, S. C. (2020). Feline vocal communication. Journal of veterinary science21(1), e18. PubMed
  • H., & S. (1999). Aggression in Cats. AAHA Press. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from ASPCA.
  • Weir, M. (n.d.). How do I know if my cat is in pain | VCA animal hospital. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from VCA.
  • Feline Behavior Problems: Aggression. (2018, July 24). Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved July 15, 2022, from Cornell Feline Health Center.

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