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Cat Scratching When Pet


TCS Member
Thread starter
Aug 25, 2019
I've done a fair bit of searching on the internet but nothing seems to fill my exact situation, so I'm sorry if this is a common topic. I've had my cat Dante (18 months) for about a month, he was very shy at first but has gained confidence so quickly. He used to come and rub up on me and love pats, however in the last 10 days or so I can barely touch him without getting my arm clawed. He has been so outgoing and affectionate with visitors to the house who are meeting him for the first time, they can give him rubs all over as much as they want with no backlash. For example, I'll put my hand down at my side while sitting in my chair, he will chirp and run over, give my hand a headbutt and then either rub a little or sit back. I try and remove my hand as soon as he pulls away, but if I take a millisecond too long he scratches. Even if he is actively rubbing (I won't add any pressure, just move where he is putting me), after a maximum of 2 seconds if I don't get my arm out of the way I'll get scratched. I've never had a bad incident with him, he always comes to me (I never reach out to touch him) and is happy to lie behind my chair, follow me around like a furry shadow and have playtime with me (only ever with toys, no hand play), but pets are not allowed (even though he sits next to my chair and stares and chirps like he wants attention). Not a single other person has even looked like they are going to be scratched, but my hands and arms are covered :( I'm at a complete loss and no one else seems to have any ideas.....why does he seem like he wants my attention but then aggresses as soon as I give it? Why is it only me who gets this treatment despite treating him with nothing but gentleness....even if I hold a treat I need to drop it as soon as he gives the initial headbutt or else I might end up bleeding. I live alone so do all of his feeding/caregiving unless visitors are over to give him some treats and love

sorry for the long post, I just wanted to get all the details I could. Thank you for any help, I just want to be able to love on my baby like everyone else can :(


TCS Member
Top Cat
Jun 1, 2017
Hmmm, well its tough to be sure without more description of *how* he scratches, but my guess is that he has decided that grabbing your arm and kicking is a fun game. Cats can "decide" such things seemingly randomly, and they can decide its a game they only play with one person.

There are other possibilities, but I'm not sure they quite fit. Many cats will scratch or nip if not pet how they deem properly -- like if you stray too far from the head towards the back. Other cats are known to scratch when one does something they don't like, or stops something they like.

If its the game scenario, try a loud enough to startle "no" when he goes to scratch and immediately ignore the cat.
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TCS Member
Thread starter
Aug 25, 2019
I thought about the play possibility, but he doesn't do the usual 'grab and kick' like he does with the toys, he kind of just sits back and swipes out once. I honestly dont even move my hand away from where he is rubbing, right back at the beginning I could scratch all over him (like others can do now) but now even a little rub against the cheek will likely result in a scratch (despite him initiating the rubs).


Forum Helper
Staff Member
Forum Helper
Nov 25, 2013
Hmmm... has anything changed at all in the month that you're had him? Does he give warning that he's about to scratch you? Does he seem aggressive, at the time? Or more playful.

My Ruby sometimes will grab at my hand when she's antsy for breakfast, and if her claws are sharp (which they usually are, as she hates getting them trimmed) I can get scratched. But it's not intentional.

When he scratches you, how do you respond? Try saying "owwwww" in a high pitched tone to let him know he's hurt you. That's how another cat would let him know he's being too rough.

It's hard to know from your post if he's being aggressive or not, but here's a couple TCS articles that might be helpful:

Why Do Cats Attack? | TheCatSite
Cat Aggression Toward People | TheCatSite

How To Stop Playtime Aggression In Cats | TheCatSite


TCS Member
Adult Cat
Mar 30, 2017
Phoenix, AZ
My sense, without video proofs.....

He trusts you above all, and wants / needs some play time. He's desperate for it.
His pattern seems repeatable - he is sweet, gentle, and affectionate to make friends...as he was with you for much of the last month, or with anyone else that comes around since. But he is an engaged and energetic cat, that wants to be a stalker/hunter/killer.

Have you tried some interactive toys, like Da Bird, or a laser pointer, when he gets a bit "scratchy" / "excited" ?

EDIT: real play at this age is about keeping him engaged and focused on the toy. Chase it, jump in the air after it, catch it, kill it....rest 60-90 seconds, and repeat.