Cat Rage?

Cat rage is one step beyond cat fear. Cats can go from calm to fear to rage in seconds. This is because cats have small frontal lobes, we are told, and this area of the brain controls or puts the brakes on emotions1. Humans have much bigger frontal lobes than cats, apparently.

To be honest, I am not even sure that “cat rage” is a biologically approved or accepted term. Or, indeed, whether animal experts are anthropomorphizing cat emotions. Do cats rage? Or are they just being highly aggressive because the circumstances demand it?

Perhaps cat rage could simply be acute fear and defensive aggression. In fact, I am almost certain it is.

I have never seen cat rage except in one well known cat video (see right) where the cat is terrified while in a cage and he screams in rage and fear. I sense that cat rage is a rare and unpleasant sight.

It seems to me that so called “cat rage” is an emotional reaction to extreme fear. A cat can fight or run away (fight-or-flight response). The orange cat in video has no where to hide so he has to fight.

An aspect of cat rage that makes me enraged is that a lot of people make stupid comments about fearful cats demonstrating cat rage. The title of the video on this page pretty much sums up this attitude. It is called “Very Angry Cat – FUNNY”. It is not funny for me. It is upsetting.

Defensive aggressive young cat

Defensive aggressive young cat. Link to original.

Cat rage can manifest itself in redirected aggression. This happens when a cat gets mad at another cat, for example, but, not being able to attack the cat, then proceeds to attack his owner who tries to pick him up.

Temple Grandin makes an interesting point about adult domestic cats being less adult that adult wild cats. She says that wild cats are less “neotenized” than domestic cats. That rare word means an animal retaining juvenile characteristics. Wild cats are more mature and more intelligent. This does add up because as domestic cats are looked after by people it is as if they are constantly mothered by a mother cat. They never really grow up. This may make them prone to uncontrolled, juvenile emotional outbursts. However, I am not sure if there is any scientific basis for that either.


  1. Temple Grandin, Animals Make Us Human
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Cat Rage? — 3 Comments

  1. It’s impossible to tell really if a cat feels rage the way we do, but I don’t think they do, I think you are right that they just become defensive and aggressive through fear.
    No it’s not funny and people frightening cats on purpose for videos or photos are very cruel, they need to think to themselves how they would feel in the cat’s place.
    They would scream and lash out if someone gigantic was threatening them!

  2. Pingback: Why aren’t cats as popular in cinema films as internet videos? | Pictures of Cats

  3. It all sounds like total twoddle to me, sorry. I think a cat freaking out is exactly that: a cat freaking out, naturally, instinctively, and rage suggests anger which I don’t believe is the case. It’s a fear reaction people are seeing, or an aggressive action in a fight situation – even in the aggressive sense its not rage. Road rage is rage. That cat would just as soon run away than claw you – it’s just that he can’t can he – so he is forced into aggression as a defensive procedure. In that sense cat fights being natural phenomena would sort of mean that all aggression in cats is actually an instinctive and defensive action. In order to defend itself it must be aggressive – its a survival thing. Rage more means anger having been pushed to some kind of limit or extreme – it’s an entirely human word.

    Sorry for being so anti – I just think it really is twoddle.

    Also it pisses me off that video – I have seen it before and I think the title is apalling. I bet some teenage suburban boy with no life posted it with that title. The world is full of morons sadly.

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