Katsonis took part in the Orlov revolt of 1770, however, he continued the struggle even after Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed a peace treaty ending hostilities. With the help of wealthy Greeks he bought a ship that he armed with 28 cannons and started raiding Turkish ships, capturing them and adding them to his fleet. In this manner, he built a fleet of some 15 ships. The High Porte offered him an island in the southern Aegean Sea to stop his hostilities but Katsonis refused.
In 1790, Katsonis' fleet defeated a superior Ottoman flotilla off the coast of Andros, however, Turkish reinforcements soon arrived and Katsonis lost 6 ships, among them his flagship. He himself was injured and fled to Melos.
Soon Katsonis built another fleet and took refuge in Porto Kagio in Mani where he continued to harass not only Turkish but also French ships. Finally, a Turkish flotilla, aided by French ships, attacked Porto Kagio and, despite very heavy losses, destroyed Katsonis' fleet. Katsonis then fled first to Ithaca, then to Parga and eventually to Russia. He settled in Crimea where he named a town "Livadia" after his birthplace.
Katsonis died in 1804.