behavior is a problem many cat owners face. There
are several reasons that cats may show aggression towards people and
other animals. It is important to understand the root of your
cat's aggression when trying to correct this unwanted
behavior. Before you try and correct this behavior, you
should first consult your vet about the problem. A change in
your cat's behavior is often the result of illness. Please
take any cat that has only recently become aggressive to your vet to be
checked for illness or injury.
Listed below are different types of
aggressive behaviors and possible solutions.
1. Play Aggression
Cats by nature love to attack, scratch, or bite anything that
moves. Play aggression is an extension of your cat's
predatory nature. Although this type of aggression is most commons in
kittens it can occur in cats of all ages. The most commons
forms of play aggression include, attacking hands and feet, pouncing on
anyone who moves, and even inappropriate biting/scratching during play.
Do not encourage your kitten or cat in rough play, scratching, or
biting. Allowing him to do this reinforces inappropriate
behavior and teaches him that this type of behavior is
allowed. If he tries to nip or scratch your hand, teach him
that this behavior is not allowed. Disengage your hand by
gently pushing toward him (if you try to pull away, he’ll
hang on even more tightly). Give him toys instead of your
hand. Leave him alone for a few minutes. Return after he has
calmed down and try playing again using a proper toy. If he continues
to grab your hand, say “NO” in a stern
voice. He’ll soon get the idea.
2. Over-Stimulation Aggression
This type of aggression occurs when a cat becomes overly excited while
being pet. It's actually normal behavior for cats to have
quick reversals of mood and behavior. There's a fine line between
enjoyable petting and irritating handling. Or you may have unknowingly
touched a sensitive or painful area. Once the petting reaches a certain
threshold, the cat will reject any further touching.
Watch your cat for signs of over stimulation. These include:
restlessness, twitching tail, turning her ears back, or your cat
turning or moving her head toward your hand. Once you see
these signs it is time to stop petting your cat and let her go about
her business. If you want to avoid the problem in the future you can
watch the clock while you are petting your cat and get an idea of how
long she will tolerate the affection and make sure you don't go beyond
her threshold. This along with paying attention to warning
signs should eliminate this type of aggression.
3. Territorial Aggression
Cats are very territorial, much more so than other animals. Territorial
aggression occurs when a cat feels that his territory has been invaded
by an intruder. Cats defend territory from other animals, including
humans, by driving them away with threats. Territorial problems often
occur when a new cat is brought into a household, when a young kitten
reaches maturity, or when a cat encounters neighborhood cats outside.
It’s not uncommon for a cat to be territorially aggressive
toward one cat in a family, and friendly and tolerant to another.
There are several steps you can take to help and stop this type of
aggression. First, don't try to punish the aggressive cat
when he does this. Punishment is likely to elicit further aggression,
which will only make the problem worse. Second, do separate
the cats when they fight. You can usually do this with distraction,
making a loud noise, squirting the cats with water, or throwing
something soft at them. Don't try to pull them apart. Take
the separated cats to separate rooms to calm down. You can also try to
start the introduction process over again from the beginning. Slowly,
letting the cats have contact with each other. Try giving each a towel
or a toy that you rubbed on each cat (between their eye and ear) so
they can get use to each other's scent. Another option to try is
Feliway; it is a synthetic facial pheromone preparation that has a
calming effect on cats by simulating a calm and friendly environment.
4. Defensive Aggression
This type of aggression is a result of fear, anger, or
illness. It occurs because the cat feels that it is
threatened and cannot escape. This can occur in response to
punishment or the threat of punishment from a person, an attack or
attempted attack from another cat, or any time he feels threatened or
afraid. The cat becomes aggressive in an attempt to protect itself from
the perceived danger, not in order to hurt you.
Again it is important to consult a vet if cat has suddenly become
aggressive to check for signs of illness. To solve this type
of aggression simply remove whatever is frightening your cat and give
your cat some time to calm down. If your cat is fearful of
strangers there are a few things you can do to help remedy this. First,
don't let the stranger approach your cat. Wait for your cat
to come near the stranger, who should be sitting quietly and waiting
for the cat to approach. This may take a long
time. But until your cat approaches on his own
terms, and finds that nothing bad happens, he will not develop his own
confidence to trust people.
5. Redirected Aggression
This can occur when a cat becomes aroused or aggressive due to one
stimulus such as the sight of a cat outdoors or a loud, disturbing
noise and attacks a human or another animal that is nearby within their
reach. Again the cat displays this aggression from a natural instinct
to protect itself and its territory, it is not actually trying to hurt
The first step you should take is trying to figure out what the cause
of your cat's aggression is and remove it. If the source of
your cat's aggression is an outdoor cat close the curtains so your cat
cannot see the other cat or shoo the stray out of your yard.
If your cat directs this aggression towards you, leave him alone until
he has calmed down. If the aggression is directed to another
cat in the household, separate the two cats until the agitated cat is
relaxed. You can then reintroduce the two of them
General Recommendations to reduce
- If your cat's behavior changes suddenly,
consult a veterinarian to rule out illness or injury.
- Spay or neuter your cat. Intact males
are much more likely to fight than neutered males.
- Never punish the cats involved.
Punishment is likely to elicit further aggression and fearful responses.
- Try a synthetic pheromone preparation such as
Feliway, which has a calming effect on cats.
- Consult an expert - Cat aggression can be a
serious problem. If you feel that things are getting out of control,
consult your veterinarian and ask her to refer you to a local cat
- In extreme cases, consult with your
veterinarian about medicating your cats while you're working on a
behavior-modification program. Your veterinarian is the only person who
is licensed and qualified to prescribe medication for your cat, so
don't attempt to give your cat any over-the-counter or prescription
medication without some guidance.
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