Categories: socialisation

Why do feral cats attack humans?

Why do feral cats attack humans? This is a question people ask of Google. They must think that feral cats always attack people which is completely untrue. Feral cats are unsocialised to humans and therefore are fearful of them and generally hide from people which precludes the possibility of a feral cat attacking people.

However, if a person foists himself on a nervous feral cat by, for example, trying to forcefully pick up the cat, the cat might become defensively aggressive and attack the person. This may give the impression that feral cats attack people but it’d be a misconception. The cat would become fearful. They’d have the feeling that they are under threat and in danger and defend themselves from that threat.

Cat attack. Screenshot

Typically feral cats have no intention of attacking people. None whatsoever. Unless, very, very rarely, a feral cat has contracted rabies when due to the illness they might attack because of increased irritability, viciousness and nervousness during the furious phase. Quiet cats can become aggressive when infected.

In countries like the UK you hardly ever see feral cats because they are secretive and will avoid people. In warm climates they are far more visible but these are often semi-feral cats socialised to humans and called community cats. Domestic cats can attack people they don’t know for the same reasons. This is because many domestic cats are socialised to their guardian, their relatives and friends but no one else. They can become fearful of strangers and defensively attack if forced. There are other rational reasons why cats, feral and domestic might attack a person but it is not an innate desire as if they are preying on humans.

That’s the answer. Feral cats do not attack humans unless provoked accidentally or deliberately by a human or driven to aggression by a nasty viral disease.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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