Why does my cat attack my dog if he yelps?

My boyfriend accidentally stepped on our dog Alfie's tail and he let out a little yelp. For some reason, our cat Kimi who is usually best friend with Alfie, heard his yelp then full on tried to attack him! Claws, hissing, deep growls, the works! We grabbed a town and tried to quickly swaddle Kimi as the dog was trying to get away from her (he's very submissive and never fights back) but then she attacked us! She ripped my boyfriends hands to bits and he was bleeding a lot.

 She's never like this, ever. But now whenever he yelps (today he walked into a doorframe and as he's a wuss he yelped) she hisses and chases, and attacks him. For a while after she seeks him out and gets angry with him. 

I don't know why she does this so any advice would be brilliant! Thank you :)

  • Brendan M.

    I have the exact same problem.  I have a 4 year old resident male cat (Gato) and a new 4 month old mini schnauzer puppy (Temo).  The first two months were great.  No issues.  The last week has been terrible.   It started when I accidentally stepped on Temo’s tale.  Gato immediately went into Stalker/Killer mode.  Low growl, teeth, claws, low to the ground, and advancing rapidly toward Temo.  I had never seen Gato this way, never in 4 yrs.  Gato then attacked the ever loving shit out of Temo.  Temo was running away and whimpering loudly.  I painfully separated the two to different rooms to cool down.  This happened two more time in the last week, Temo whimpers, and Gato attacks.  All other times the two of them are fine together.  Only when Temo whimpers does Gato attack.  When Gato cannot get to Temo, the aggression is redirected to me, quite painfully.  How can I break the natural instinct (?) in Gato to attack?  

  • Diana S.

    Hi Abby 

    I realize it has been a while since you posted your question  I have been looking on and off for several years to see if anyone else experiences this problem  we have the exact same problem. This has been going on for 9 years and has recently gotten much worse ( I had to go to the hospital this week with 3 severe cat bites).

    When ever our dog yelps the cat will come running from where ever he is and severely attack the dog, who just cowers and yelps more,  this causes the other cat to come and get involved. The first time this happened the dog was 10 weeks old and the cats were one and a half.

    After this last violent attack we are at our wits end. We went to a vet today who says it may be caused by fear and anxiety, I'm not so sure  it has been going on for 9 years and the cat always comes running even if he is two floors away. The vet has us trying him on antiaxiety medication for 2 weeks  

    We have also had the issue of the cat peeing on the dog's bed and last month he dug a hole right through the carpet in the middle of our bedroom  (he was not locked in the room)  

    Just wondering if you found anything that worked? Did you try desensitization? I'm really done with the cat because I am afraid of now because   You never know when the dog could yelp and start the whole thing going again and as I said the attacks have become more violent. Our 3 kids are distraught at my suggestion to re-home the cat 

  • Abby K.

    I'd like to think that this is the answer however she doesn't stalk any of us, and isn't usually even near the same room as the dog when he yelped and she ran in and attacked him. Her breeder told us that Kimi was 9 weeks old when we took her home. Turns out she was only six weeks old. She is now just over a year old. We've never had a problem with her. When she was tiny she had our full attention at all times and is now a very happy well behaved kitty. We always play with her as she has learnt to play fetch so she brings us a ball when she wants to play. She's always been mentally stimulated too as she's always learning new things (she comes, sits, stands, talks, and retrieves on command). Otherwise the 2 animals get along well. Kimi even bunts the dog! But something snaps in her when he yelps... And he's a big wuss so yelps at anything, he walked into a doorframe and yelped! I don't understand why this happens. Can you, or anyone, lend some insight please? Or anyone who has a similar issue? Thanks

  • Andrew the Vet

    This is play aggression.

    Biting and scratching during play are typical of play aggression, a behavior most commonly observed in young cats and kittens. Kittens raised with littermates learn how to bite and scratch with reduced intensity, because play that is too rough causes pain to a playmate, resulting in either retaliation or the cessation of play. Consequently, play aggression is usually seen in kittens that were not raised with littermates or playmates, are under-stimulated, or lack appropriate play outlets.

    Play aggression can usually be recognized in a kitten's body posture. The tail lashes back and forth, the ears flatten against the head, and the pupils (the black part of the eyes) dilate. This sort of posture usually develops from normal play and is followed by biting and scratching. Kittens that stalk moving objects, like your hands and feet, are also displaying play aggression. Play aggressive cats often stalk or hide, then jump out and attack as you pass.

    Try keeping a record of when this occurs to see if there is a pattern. You may learn, for example, that your kitten tends to hide under your bed and jump out as you're getting ready to go to sleep. By anticipating this, and encouraging play prior to the attack, you may be able to curb this behavior. A bell on a breakaway collar around your cat's neck clues you in to his whereabouts. You may need to deny him access to his favorite stalking places in order to stop this behavior.

    Another management technique is to use noise deterrents, such as a human-generated hiss, or a blast from a compressed air canister. These must be used within the first few seconds of the onset of aggression to startle, rather than scare the cat, into ceasing his behavior. Do not physically punish your cat, even with a slight tap on the nose. The pain of being struck can lead to more aggressive behavior, and your kitten will learn to fear and avoid you. Additionally, any physical contact may be interpreted as play, which rewards your kitten's rambunctious behavior. Simply walking away and ignoring your kitten is much more effective; it teaches him that the consequence of rough play is no play.

    All of your play objects should be at a distance from your hands, so your cat has no opportunity to bite or scratch you. For example:

    • Toss moving objects like ping-pong balls, walnuts, or aluminum foil balls for your cat to chase.
    • Provide climbing perches, scratching posts, and ball toys that deliver food when batted about.
    • Buy a fishing pole toy with feathers on the end to dangle in front of your cat.


Sign in or sign up to submit an answer.