Why Do Cats Growl

Why Do Cats Growl?

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Last Updated on May 20, 2023 by Pauline G. Carter

Cats growl to express their discomfort, fear, or aggression towards a person or another animal. Growling is a natural behavior of cats, and it indicates that cats are feeling threatened and want to defend themselves or their territory.

Cats are adorable creatures that provide comfort and companionship to many people. However, they can sometimes display aggressive behavior, such as growling. Cat owners might wonder why their feline friends growl, and there are many reasons behind this behavior. In some cases, cats growl to show their disapproval or warn others to stay away.

On other occasions, they express their discomfort or anxiety through growling. Growling is a way for cats to communicate their feelings, and it’s important for pet owners to understand the context behind this behavior to provide the necessary care and support their cats need. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind cat growling and how to handle this behavior effectively.

Why Do Cats Growl?

Credit: www.catster.com

Causes Of Cat Growling

Cats have a unique language, and growling is one of the ways they express themselves. When a cat growls, it can indicate several things, such as anger, fear, or anxiety. As a cat owner, it’s vital to understand the causes of why cats growl.

In this blog post, we will talk about physical and psychological causes of cat growling.

Physical Causes

Sometimes, cats may growl because of physical discomfort, such as:

  • Pain: Cats can growl when they are in pain. They may growl when they are touched or picked up, as it causes discomfort.
  • Age: Older cats may growl due to age-related physical conditions, such as arthritis or dental problems.

Psychological Causes

Cats may growl due to psychological reasons, such as:

  • Fear: Cats can growl when they are afraid of something, such as loud noises, strangers, or other animals.
  • Territoriality: Cats are territorial and may growl at other animals or people who they perceive as intruders.
  • Anxiety: Cats can growl when they feel anxious or stressed. This can be due to various reasons, such as changes in their environment or routine.

Growling is a way for cats to communicate with their owners and the environment. Understanding the causes of cat growling is essential to provide appropriate care and comfort to your feline friend. If you notice excessive growling or any physical discomfort in your cat, it is advisable to seek professional veterinary advice.

Types Of Growling

Cats growling can be pretty intimidating and worrisome for many cat owners. But, did you know that growling is not always an indication of an aggressive attitude? There are different types of growling, and each comes with its own specific reasons and meanings that any cat owner should be aware of.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the three primary types of growling: defensive, territorial, and dominance.


Defensive growling is triggered when a cat feels threatened or scared. It is a way for the cat to notify its predator or enemy to back off. Here are the key characteristics of defensive growling:

  • Usually, defensive growling is accompanied by body movements that indicate a defensive posture, such as arching the back, standing on tiptoes, and tail twitching.
  • The growling sound tends to come deep from the cat’s throat, and it is low and continuous.
  • If a cat is growling defensively, they may also hiss and display aggression towards people, animals, or objects.


Territorial growling is frequent when a cat is trying to defend its home or space. If a new cat comes into the house, it could result in territorial growling. Here are the key characteristics of territorial growling:

  • When it comes to territorial growling, cats may show defensive body language, and may hiss or swipe.
  • In some instances, territorial growling can become quite aggressive, and tensions could be high between the two cats.
  • Moreover, territorial growling can happen with people, too. If someone is in the cat’s territory, a cat may growl and hiss in an attempt to defend.


Dominance growling happens when cats feel like they are in control and want to assert their dominance over someone or something. Here are the key characteristics of dominance growling:

  • A cat that is growling with dominance may still display defensive body language, such as hissing and spitting.
  • The sound of the growl is a mix of low-pitched growls, hisses, and yowls.
  • A cat that is growling with dominance may be more inclined to show aggression towards other cats or people.

Growling is a standard behavior for cats and is a way of non-verbal communication. Knowing the reasons behind the different types of growling can help cat owners understand their cat’s behavior. By doing so, they can react accordingly to keep themselves and their cat safe and happy.

How To Handle A Growling Cat

If you’re a cat lover, you might be aware of the fact that cats can be moody creatures. One moment, they may be purring, and the next, they might start growling. A growling cat can be concerning for both new and experienced cat owners.

In this blog post, we delve into the reasons behind this feline behavior and provide tips on how to calm a growling cat.

Why Do Cats Growl?

Cats, being natural predators, have several ways of communication, and growling is one of them. When a cat growls, it generally means that they feel threatened or uncomfortable. Here are some of the reasons why a cat might start growling:

  • Territorial issues: Your cat might start growling when they feel that their territory or their belongings are being threatened.
  • Fear and anxiety: Cats can get scared of unfamiliar people or animals, loud noises, or new surroundings. Growling is one of the ways they express their feelings of fear or anxiety.
  • Aggression: Cats can get aggressive and end up growling in situations where they feel attacked or provoked.

Tips For Calming A Growling Cat

Handling a growling cat can be challenging, but not impossible. Here are some tips for calming a growling cat:

  • Stay calm: It’s natural to feel worried or concerned when you see your cat growling, but it’s crucial to stay calm and avoid showing any signs of aggression.
  • Avoid direct eye contact: A cat might perceive direct eye contact as a threat, so try to avoid it unless you’re trying to reassure them.
  • Speak softly and soothingly: Speak to your cat in a calm and reassuring voice. This might help to soothe them.
  • Give them space: If your cat is growling, they might want some personal space. Give them some time to calm down and don’t force them into anything.
  • Offer treats: Treats can be a great way to distract your cat and make them feel more comfortable.

When To Seek Professional Help

In some cases, calming a growling cat might not be possible without professional help. Here are some situations where you might want to seek the help of a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist:

  • If your cat’s behavior is suddenly different from their usual behavior.
  • If your cat is growling all the time, and nothing seems to calm them down.
  • If your cat is showing signs of aggression, such as hissing, swatting, or biting.

Cats can be temperamental creatures, and growling is one of the ways in which they express their emotions. By following the tips shared above, you can handle a growling cat safely and effectively. Remember, if the situation seems out of control, seek professional help.

Frequently Asked Questions On Why Do Cats Growl?

Why Do Cats Growl During Play?

Cats growl during play to communicate and establish boundaries with their playmates.

Is Growling A Sign Of Aggression In Cats?

Yes, growling can be a sign of aggression in cats. It suggests that they feel threatened or uncomfortable.

How Can I Stop My Cat From Growling?

You can calm your cat by removing any stressors and providing a comfortable and safe environment.

What Health Issues Can Cause Cats To Growl?

Cats may growl when they are in pain or suffering from health issues such as dental problems or arthritis.

Are Some Cat Breeds More Prone To Growling?

Yes, certain breeds such as siamese or bengal cats are more vocal and may growl more frequently than others.


Overall, cats growl for different reasons; it is their way of communicating with us and other animals. Sometimes, they do it out of fear, pain, or discomfort. Other times, they growl when they feel territorial or threatened. Regular check-ups with your vet can help prevent most of these issues, and spaying or neutering your cat can prevent aggression.

Understanding your feline’s behavior is crucial to ensuring a happy and healthy relationship. If your cat growls often and it is interfering with their daily activities, then it’s time to talk to your vet. Remember to always treat your cat with kindness and patience; they are sensitive creatures.

By addressing any underlying issues that might be causing your cat to growl, you can foster a deeper bond between you and your beloved pet. Finally, always remember to respect your cat’s personal space and boundaries.

About Author (Pauline G. Carter)

Pauline G. Carter

Pauline G. Carter is a well-known pet blogger who has written about the world of pets for several years. She is passionate about pets, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles, and poultry. Her blog, which is updated regularly, is filled with articles and guides on pet care, nutrition, and training. She also shares her experiences and observations on pet ownership, making her blog relatable and informative for pet lovers. She is a true animal advocate and is dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership. Let’s Go …

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