Why is My Cat Growling?

Do you have a cat? Does your cat seem to growl a lot? Do you have trouble recognizing what your cat might mean when he growls like this?

If you find yourself confused by your cat’s growling behavior, you’re not the only one. Many cat owners have difficulty understanding what growling means in cats, especially since some cats are not very prone to growling at all.

In the article below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common causes of growling in cats so you can learn how to tell what’s going on with your furry friend. Read on to find out more.


Your Cat is Afraid

When a cat is afraid, he may growl or make a long, low noise that is similar to a growl but slightly different. This may occur in cats who meet other animal members of the family for the first time, and it is also commonly seen in cats who are put into carriers for a trip in the car.

Growling out of fear is very normal. However, it is necessary to keep an eye on your cat’s other body language to make sure this fear doesn’t turn into aggression toward you or others.


Your Cat is Angry

Cats typically growl out of anger. This anger may even include frustration, annoyance, and stress, depending on the situation. You may have a cat who likes to “grumble” a lot by growling when anything bothers him, and this is perfectly normal.

If your cat is very comfortable on your bed and you pick him up to move him out of the way, he may growl at you. This is simply because he doesn’t want to be bothered and is angry about it. If your cat shows no other signs of aggression, this type of growling is not a cause for concern.

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Your Cat Growling as a Warning

One of the most common causes of growling behavior in cats is simply as a warning. Some cats are prone to growling often to let others know they are not happy. Others may only growl just before they are about to attack. It’s up to you to learn more about your specific cat’s individual personality and find out when his growls may be a warning.

If your cat growls in warning to someone or something else, try to remove the offender from the situation. If you cannot do this, remove the cat from the situation instead. This way, there will be no risk of an attack.


Your Cat is in Pain

Cats who are in pain may growl, especially if they are concerned that they will be bothered. For example, if your cat has an injured leg and is trying to hide from you because of it, he may growl when you try to pick him up. If you get too near the leg that is injured, he may be even more likely to growl or potentially bite.

However, if your cat is hurting so badly that it is making him growl, you will need to take him to the vet. You’ll need to collect him carefully to avoid contributing to the problem.


Your Cat is Territorial

Cats are extremely territorial. If you have just one cat, he probably sees your whole home and property as part of his territory. If you have multiple cats, they have likely worked out how to share your home and yard as part of their own individual territories instead.

If a cat feels as though his territory is being threatened—by another cat, another animal, or a human he doesn’t recognize—then he is likely to growl. The more the territory is threatened, the more the cat will growl; eventually, this growling is likely to turn into attacking. Remove your cat from the situation if he is growling for this reason.

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Your Cat is Playing

Although cats are less likely to growl in play than dogs are, they may still exhibit this behavior, especially while they are still kittens. Kittens and young adult cats may growl when playing with each other and might even growl when chasing and playing with their toys, too.

If your cat’s growling only happens during playtime, this isn’t anything to worry about. Just watch your cat to make sure he isn’t becoming aggressive or angry, and you should be just fine letting him growl while chasing, playing, and pouncing.



As you can see, growling has a wide range of underlying causes in cats. A cat who is growling is trying to communicate something to you, and it is important for you to pay attention to your cat’s other body language to find out what that might be.

If you are unsure what’s causing your cat’s growling, or if you suspect they may be in pain, take them to the vet as soon as possible. At Central Broward Animal Hospital in Plantation, FL, our doctors can help diagnose the underlying cause of your cat’s growling and work to resolve the issue as well. Call us at (954) 792-6323 or request an appointment online.