Cats can growl too! 7 reasons why your pet might growl at you

Ferenczi Deborah

2023. February 18 - Source: Photos by Getty Images Hungary

Even though many people don't consider growling to be as common an expression for cats as it is for dogs, it's important to know that one of the mainstays of their communication is the sounds they make when they're very upset about something. These include hissing and growling. Below we have collected some of the most common instances when a kitten growls, as it is not necessarily the case that it is expressing anger.


f your cat starts to growl, there is no guarantee that it is angry with you, as there are many reasons for these outbursts. In most cases, you can tell exactly what the growling is about by the environment in which it occurs and the metacommunication signals that accompany it.

1. Feeling threatened

One of the most obvious reasons is that the animal simply feels threatened and is trying to give a warning signal that it does not want you to get close to it. It may be defending its personal space, or it may not want to be approached by others, or it may feel threatened by the person approaching it. In this case it is better to leave the animal alone for a while.

2. Afraid of something

Most cats start growling when they are frightened by something. However, if the reason for the growl is fear, there are clear metacommunication signs. That is, the animal is trying to scare away the cause of its fear by raising its body in the air with its fur standing up. This reaction is usually triggered by fear of a person or a smell of a house.

3. Wants to dominate

However, growling can also indicate simple dominance. This is most likely to occur with the arrival of a newcomer, especially a pet, or a small child. In this case, the cat is trying to make the other person aware that it is dominating this area. So in such cases, growling can be a means of dominance.

4. Jealousy can also be the cause

Now, jealousy can also be the reason for the growling. However, not in the narrow sense of being jealous of a specific person, but in a much broader sense, i.e. being jealous of you touching his favourite toy, his food, or his bedding. Since cats like to possess certain objects, they are particularly upset if you touch them or put them away. This can often result in them growling at you.

5. You may be in pain

t is also very important to identify the cause of the growling as soon as possible, as cats often start to growl in pain. This can be due to injury, illnesses such as arthritis, dental disease or urinary tract infections, all of which can lead to growling. This usually occurs when someone tries to touch the cat, who growls in pain. If you notice this, make sure you see a vet.

6. Mental illness, stress

In a similar way to physical illness, it can also be a cause for concern if the cat is visibly out of sorts and also rather irritable. It is suspected that some kind of mental disorder may be at work, which also needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

7. Simplán angry

Finally, the most obvious response to a cat’s growling is to get angry. This is because if the animal is angry, it is clearly growling at you. This is usually because something has upset him. The body language is also clearly aggressive and offensive. In this case it is a good idea to back off and leave the animal alone until it calms down.

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