My cat is ‘growling’ – Should I be worried?

The sound of a cat growling is a sound no pet parent wants to hear. 

That deep, drawn out, guttural vocalisation is both unmistakable, and intimidating. 

Should you be worried? Not immediately. But you should be paying attention. 

Cats use vocalisations to communicate how they are feeling. While a growl, may at first, feel aggressive in nature – they could well be trying to tell you something else. 

As loving pet parents, it’s our responsibility to find out what. 


5 reasons why cats growl (either at other cats or seemingly at nothing!)


  1. Annoyed. Cats are pretty cool characters, for the most part. Rub (or pet) them up the wrong way though, and you may find yourself on the end of a ‘back off’ growl. Similarly, a tense altercation with another pet at home can lead to a quick flash of teeth, accompanied by some very aggressive vocalisations.
  2. Stressed. We all have bad days from time to time. And it’s no different for our felines. Loud noises, new additions to the household, separation anxiety, the slightest change to a regular routine – any one of these can send a cat’s stress levels skyrocketing. Growling is how they might just let you know they’ve had enough. Identify the stressor, remove it, and calm and tranquillity should return.
  3. Scared. Felines can sometimes let out a mighty growl when they’re scared or feeling threatened. This might be down to the fact they’re unsure about a new environment, pet or person, or it could be that they’re feeling trapped. Other signs you may have a scaredy cat in your midst include hiding, wide eyes with big pupils, and litter tray avoidance.
  4. Asserting dominance. You probably don’t need us to tell you this, but felines can be quite territorial on occasion. Territorial aggression could be triggered by an ‘intruder’ invading their space, or another pet trying to play with their favourite toy. In this instance, a growl should be taken as a warning shot, a sign to back off and give them some space.
  5. Hurt. Cats are masters of hiding physical pain. Whether it be illness or injury, they can soldier on for days, even weeks, offering up little to no clues that they’re suffering. A growl, however, could be a sign of their discomfort. Even then, trying to identify what’s troubling them can be just as difficult. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your vet if you think they are in pain or struggling with illness. 


Should I be worried if my cat is growling regularly?

A growling cat can, understandably, be a real concern to any pet parent. 

Especially if your feline is of the cool, calm and collected type. 

The good news is that the occasional growl is nothing to actually be worried about.

It’s most likely nothing more than just natural feline communication; a fleeting moment of annoyance brought on by an irritating encounter with another pet.
If these growls become more frequent, though, and you’re struggling to identify the reason,  it’s time to delve a little deeper. 

Uncharacteristic aggression, such as regular growling, hissing or spitting, is generally a sign your feline is fighting some form of physical discomfort. 

Try and carry out a thorough, but gentle, examination. This may not be possible if they are in severe pain; in which case, speak to a vet and arrange an appointment as soon as possible. 


Stay calm, and be patient 

Matching fire with fire is never a good idea where our feisty felines are concerned. 

Never, under any circumstances, lose your temper, shout at, or force your cat to interact if they appear in a state of agitation.

Instead, remain calm, and give them space. Once they appear more settled, then you can approach them – with caution.

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