Advice With Hostile Cat Concern

I’m on a lovely housesit that I started yesterday. Beautiful house, amazing owner, 1 dog and 2 cats. Dog and 1 cat are adorable and very well behaved. The second cat was fine for the first couple of hours with me, let me pet her gently, sat next to me. Suddenly she turned very hostile and hissed and growled at me. I have stayed away from her. Last night while I was watching TV she approached me clearly stressed and hissed and growled. I’ve never seen behaviour like this from a pet before. I’ve had cats all my life and I know cat behaviour. Owner said both cats were found abandoned and starving and she is obsessed with food. She’s not hostile at feeding time, btw! I think it might be because I’ve come from another sit with cat and dog scent on the clothes in my suitcase? Any advice from people?


All I can say is, be very careful going forward. Exactly same thing happened to me last December, the cat eventually scratched me badly and acted as you mentioned. I got a tetanus injection, double dose antibiotics. As time went on, at the scratch site a lump starting growing and eventually got large enough I had it removed. Stitches came out and I got another bacterial infection so all up it took over six months to heal.

I have had cats all my life also and sat for many and never had this before or since. Not saying this will happen to you but I am so anxious initially around cats now, I suggest you be very wary.

1 Like

yes, you’re right. I was actually quite scared of the cat last night. I will be very wary. This morning she hasn’t hissed or growled, ate all her breakfast, and is sitting in her bed watching me. I will stay well away from her.

It could be hurt? If its OK at feeding time try and get a look? Otherwise just let it approach you and keep away. Good luck

@EmDeeScotty I did research on this immediately after it happened to me and I even rang a Vet. Response was…

How long does it take for a cat to calm down after aggressive action?
Don’t approach or touch them until they’re ready. It takes two hours for an aggressive cat to calm down.

That is about exactly how long it took but I never went near it again except to feed etc I was really traumatised. Don’t take the risk

I’d agree with the other advice you’ve been given that it’d be best to keep your distance as much as possible. Your safety is the top priority here.

As much as I love cats and have looked after dozens of them at this point, I have met the odd one that can be quite unpredictable. I know just how unnerving and scary it is when that happens. I really hope this cat settles down so you’re able to relax and enjoy the rest of your time there.

1 Like

@ziggy Thank you for sharing your experience.

1 Like

@ziggy it’s such a shame because I really love cats, but it’s just not worth getting hurt. She’s made it very clear she feels threatened and has given me strong warnings to stay away!

Hi, yes it crossed my mind she could be in pain. She’s clearly very unhappy about something! Seems a bit calmer today though.

Probably a lovely cat, but having been abandoned and aggressive at times, you don’t know what it’s history is or how it has acted in the past. When I told my HO what happened he was kind of surprised but said oh yes, it had attacked him before also. What the :person_shrugging:! It’s great to love all animals but you are a temporary sitter, not the cat whisperer, and you need to think about yourself. As long as he is fed and watered and kept safe, in this case that’s your job done. Harsh but real.

Good grief, did that HO tell you that before you accepted the sit? When a pet has behaved aggressively, it’s responsible to warn a prospective sitter, so they can make an informed decision about whether to take the sit.


@Maggie8K I’m not sure if you were directing your question to myself or the OP but if me, no. The owner did not tell me about that, I found out the hard way after the sit started :face_with_head_bandage:

Hi, Ziggy. Yes, I was asking you. That’s terrible that the HO didn’t tell you and that things unfolded with your being hurt.

Just generally, people have liability risks with their pets. And not warning sitters can pose more significant exposure.

@Maggie8K I am still very anxious initially when sitting cats, it has left me scarred for life I think, though I have since had wonderful ones who I have loved. It was more traumatic than anything and I was happy to just finish the job and leave.

Hi @EmDeeScotty
I volunteered for a cat rescue centre where we tried to tame feral cats. My advice is to keep talking to the cat, using his/her name but give the cat plenty of space especially so it always has an out. Don’t attempt to pet it. Hopefully in a few days it’ll calm down.

1 Like

I can completely relate to this feeling. It can take a really long time to get over a bad experience like this.

A couple of years ago, I was looking after two rescue cats. One had a very calm and placid temperament and was a total joy to spend time with. The other one, not so much. One night, I got up to go to the bathroom and she just went for me in the dark and really sank her claws and teeth into my outer thigh. I had severe bruising and cuts as a result of that attack and was very shaken up and utterly petrified as you can imagine. Worst of it was, this cat kept trying to come near me after that. Not sure if it was to attack me again or to make amends but I was far too terrified to let her anywhere near me.

The only way she’d leave me alone was when I was vacuuming so for what little time was left on that sit, the vacuum cleaner became like my bodyguard. Those carpets ended up extremely well hoovered let me tell you! Of course to the owner, that cat was incapable of anything of that nature but the evidence on my leg told a very different story.

After that, I only did repeat sits with cats I already knew would never do anything aggressive like that. It was a good year before I did a whole new cat sit with new owners and even then it was only a kitten. I had to ease myself back in the shallow end. I was so jumpy after that whole experience even if I saw a cat just minding its own business in the street.

I suspected this particular cat has been problematic before but this was not disclosed to me. This is the only time in five years plus of doing this that I’ve ever been attacked by an animal but it definitely took a toll and made me very VERY wary after that.


@Chatsetchiens oooh what a story! I don’t like to say my case was almost identical but it was! Almost word perfect. I am sitting a Bengal cat at present and I’m almost sweating going near him. He attacked one of the HO’s the night before they left and I was shaken. He said he only does it to him and I’m safe. Well, I’m not taking that risk so it’s food, water and care and when he brushes against my legs, I’ll respond, not before. Unfortunately, like people’s children, sometimes they can do no wrong, but they can and they do.

I’m sorry you experienced what you did, I totally empathise with you. I’m a little relieved in another respect that I’m not alone in what happened to us both and I’m sure there are many more. Another reason some HO’s need to respect what we do and not look upon us as just looking for a free ride. Only a very few think that way of course. Good luck going forward and I understand :pray:


No wonder you’re shaken up. I wouldn’t be remotely reassured that the cat supposedly only reserves his aggression for that owner. I hope you don’t have too much longer to go on this sit as I don’t like the thought of you having to sit that out feeling on edge.

1 Like

Maybe you were okay when you were apparently just a visitor, then she felt you were on her patch and not leaving, and her familiar humans with whom she feels safe suddenly not around. Who knows what experiences she had when young, but you’re right, she clearly feels threatened and is warning you to keep away.

It’s alarming I know, but remember she probably feels as alarmed than you (or more!) Speak kindly to her, use her name often, avoid eye contact, and as others have said, let her come to you if/when she’s ready.

The home owners might be surprised at how she’s behaving: people don’t always know how their animals are when they’re not around.

Day 2 of 43 :face_with_spiral_eyes: Thanks for your concern, I’m a lot smarter than I was before and will play it safe. Just another small hurdle in life :smiling_face: