Yet another cat question.

My cat lives inside, and doesn’t show any interest in going out. When I come home he’s glad to see me, meowing and purring and wanting to be picked up.
But when I go out and mow the grass, he growls and hisses and swats at my legs when I come inside. He seems really pissed about something. I don’t get it. Any cat owners ever observe this behavior?
Wierd- assed cat. :slight_smile:

Does he only do it when you mow the grass? How about if you only go outside to work in the garage? I’m thinking it has to do with a scent they don’t like.

Our cats are the same as yours: super lovey and strictly indoors. But they get weird if one of us comes home with a new scent. If I’ve been by my mother (she has 2 cats) my cats will sniff me up and down and growl when I get home.
Cats are very scent orientated. And indoor cats are restricted to the scents they are exposed to. So when you come in from outdoors they get bombarded with all sorts of smells they’re not normally getting hit with.

Could there be another cat, or even a dog that is walking through the yard or urinating on the lawn and the scent is sticking to you when you mow the grass? Maybe even the smell of fertilizer or weed killer. I know quite a bit of grass clippings stick to my pants cuffs after I’m done mowing. I’m betting you’re coming in with a threatening scent.

Well, your cat might just be a nut :D, but it can’t hurt to ask a few questions and see if any fit:

  1. have you specifically tried to take him outside? how does he react?

  2. is it only when you mow the lawn? do you get grass cuttings on your legs?

  3. is he comfortable with strange people coming into the house or hostile?

  4. do you live in an area where dogs/cats or other animals roam freely?

  5. how/where did you get the cat? Is it young, old -do you know it’s previous history if you adopted it?

  6. is this recent behavior or has he always done this?

  7. do you fertalize/treat your lawn?

  8. do you smell strongly of gasoline/oil when you come in from the lawn…

  9. just a ponder: I wonder if cats can have allergies.

Reasons being:

1 & 8. if you’ve tried to take him outside and he spazzes in general - you smell more strongly of grass and “outside” when you come in from mowing than you normally would walking in the door from, say, work. Or, there’s a possibility that the sound of the lawnmower or just lawnmowers in general freak him out and the smell of oil/gas on you generates a defense reaction.

2 & 3. There’s also a wierd freak possibility (hey, these animals eat rubber bands and chase bugs, you never know) that if you get a ton of grass clippings on your legs that when you come in, you look different (and smell different) and it freaks him out. cat: “hmmm, same, but…different…kill it!” If he’s generally anti-social and hostile or shy towards other people, he could be mistaking you for a stranger/intruder (some cats get really protective) and trying to scare you off.

  1. if animals pass freely through your yard and have marked it, the scent would stronger when the grass is fresh cut. You might be walking into the house and unwittingly bringing “guest” signatures into his territory.

  2. history is important… it might be something that seems small and insignificant to you that imprints a lifelong fear/hatred in the animal. Granted, your cat might just be quirky, again, but if the cat was adopted and has an unknown history, maybe something happened? … I’m not sure about cats, but some breeds of dog go through a “fear” stage as puppies… it’s possible this is the same for your cat - possibly he was seperated from the mother & outside and overwhelmed by the experiance and there was a lawnmower going…something along that line that imprinted a fear towards lawnmowers or things related to them that gets him panicky and aggressive.

  3. this ties into the above, of course… if he’s recently started doing this, try to think back when it started and see if you can pinpoint anything specific happening around that time that might have had an effect on him.

  4. possible that lawn fertilizer might do funky stuff to him - if this is a possiblity, it’s a good idea to ask the vet. I’d ask the vet anyway… (Where’s James Herriot when you need him…)

    • allergies - I doubt it, but you never know… another thing to ask the vet… if there’s pollen or dust or something about grass that sets him off it might be a reaction.
      At any rate, the only thing I guess you can do is play detective - try to isolate what it is he’s really attacking/freaked out about - you said it’s when you mow the lawn -so for instance, with the gas thing, you might go out and just start the lawnmower for a second and stand in the smoke (oh yeah, that sounds like fun) and then go in and see what he does -or go push the thing around while it’s off and see how he reacts, etc. until you can narrow it down a bit.

The fun thing about cats…you might put lots of effort into this and just find out it’s just a wierd quirk.

I guess I should have asked first -are you looking to solve the problem, or just figure out what his deal is?


Whoops, sorry Pk, didn’t intend to post on top of you…

that said: ditto, ditto, ditto.


Even though your cat (kittygeorge?) lives inside, it’s still his yard. Maybe if you had asked permission to mow first, he wouldn’t be so pissed.

Naw, it’s the smell. Cats have an item in the roof of the mouth called a Jacobsen’s organ which allows them to “taste” smells and your boy can distinguish a whole variety of odors where you just smell “mown grass.” I think Meg and pk got it - he’s reacting to the scent of an intruder in his territory. Either that or you keep mowing down a nice patch of catnip.

Yeah, it must be the smells. I kinda thought so. He did the same thing a few weeks ago, when I went under the house to run some cable. And no, he doesn’t like strangers in his house.
He calms down pretty quickly.