Classification Of Aggressive Behavior
If your cat has been aggressive in the past or you suspect he could become aggressive, take time to evaluate the situations that got him upset. Who did he aggress toward? When and where did it happen? What was going on during the half-hour or so leading up to the incident? What was about to happen to your cat? Determining the answers to these questions can clarify the circumstances that trigger your cats aggressive reaction and provide insight into why hes behaving this way. You need to understand the cause of your cats aggression and his motivation for it before you can help him.
Keep in mind that a number of medical conditions can cause or contribute to your cats aggression, including toxoplasmosis, hyperthyroidism, epilepsy, abscesses, arthritis, dental disease, rabies, trauma, and sensory decline or cognitive dysfunction in older cats. The first step in resolving your cats aggression problem is to have a complete veterinary exam to assess his physical health.
Aggressive behavior problems in cats can be classified in different ways. A good way to understand why your cat is aggressive is to think about the function or purpose of the aggression. If you consider all the reasons why cats behave aggressively, you can determine what motivates your cat to do so and identify what he might gain from his behavior.
Fearful or Defensive
Pain-Induced and Irritable
What Should I Do If That Happens
“First and foremost, you must avoid the cat until it calms down.”
First and foremost you must avoid the cat until it calms down. If the aggression is being redirected toward a second cat in the household, the two cats may have to be separated. In some cats, separation to another room with water and litter may only be required for a few minutes, but it is not unusual for it to take hours, or in some cases days, until the cat is calm enough to be reintroduced safely to the other cat. In some cases, regardless of the length of confinement, the cat remains aggressive to the other cat after it is released. This is most likely if the redirected aggression was met with retaliation, punishment or another fearful event . In addition, if the attack leads to a change in relationship between the cat and the victim then the aggression may persist.
“The biggest mistake that owners make in trying to resolve this problem is to try and bring the cats together too soon.”
How To Identify Aggressive Behavior
Understanding a cat’s body language during “normal” circumstances can help you identify when they’re acting out of character. “It enables to more accurately ‘read’ their cats and understand their feelings and motivations for doing what they do. It also helps them respond more effectively to behavior issues like aggression,” explains the ASPCA. Cats use their eyes, ears, tail and voice to communicate with their people, and as you get to know your cat, you’ll recognize their behavior patterns for wanting food, playtime and affection.
Some cats are naturally rowdy, doing crazy things such as running up and down the hallway , throwing their toy mouse in the air and playfully yowling. This isn’t aggressive behavior, though it’s quite clear when a cat is being more than just rambunctious and instead is being downright aggressive. Watch for:
- Opened mouth
- Stiff stance
If your cat suddenly exhibits aggressive behavior, take them to a veterinarian’s office to rule out an underlying medical cause. Once they have a clean bill of health, you can then identify and manage other likely causes of your cat’s mischief.
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Recognize The Type Of Aggression
Many cats have certain kinds of aggression that you will see. If they are acting aggressive, there is usually a reason behind it.
Some types of cat aggression can include play aggression, aggression to other cats, fear, or being territorial.
These are the most common types of aggression, and it is important to identify them. Once you understand the type of aggression that your cat is having, you will be able to understand the cause.
This can help you to avoid triggers and remove whatever is causing the sudden aggression, making a safer and more peaceful environment for you and your cat.
How To Help Cats Get Along
Treatment for aggression or fighting between cats varies depending on the type of aggressive behavior but may include desensitization, counterconditioning techniques, or drug therapy.
Management methods for cat aggression include:
- Spay or neuter your cats. Fighting is common between intact males, and intact females are likely to have litters, leading to maternal aggression.
- Provide additional perches and hiding spots, such as boxes and cat trees. This allows your cat to escape and/or hide when they feel threatened or afraid.
- Have plenty of catsâ supplies. Having multiple food and water bowls, litter boxes, perches, and toys can prevent fighting over resources.
- Reinforce incompatible behaviors â any behaviors that cannot occur at the same time as the problem behavior. Praise them and toss healthy cat treats to reward your cats.
- Try using pheromones. There are products that mimic a natural cat odor, which may be effective in decreasing aggression.
- Keep cats separated, especially at mealtimes. Separation may need to last only a few days, but if the aggression is persistent and severe, it may take several weeks before you can gradually reintroduce the cats.
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Understanding Aggression In Cats
Aggressive behavior in cats can stem from environmental concerns, but it can also be an indication of health issues. Regardless of the exact reasons, aggressive behavior is usually expressed the same way. Aggression in cats includes hissing, growling, swatting, biting, exposed claws, an open mouth, or a stiff stance.
A cats body language can also hint at potential signs of upcoming aggression. For example, if your cat’s ears are pressed back or flattened, their whiskers are upturned or angled forward, or their tail is twitching or bristled, it can point to a potential aggressive outburst. These behaviors can be directed towards a person, another cat, another animal, or a nearby object.
A Vet’s Guide To Grooming Aggressive Cats
ByDr Rebecca MacMillanpublished 1 December 21
Veterinarian Rebecca MacMillan advises on grooming aggressive cats. Read her top tips on how to brush your cat!
Grooming aggressive cats can be stressful! Most cats enjoy being groomed and tolerate being brushed quite well. However, some dont. This can lead to problems with dead fur building up and becoming matted, especially in long-haired cats. Older cats that are unable to groom themselves effectively are also at risk. Matted fur can end up feeling tight and uncomfortable, making your cat feel even grumpier about you approaching them with a brush, and so the cycle continues. If you are struggling with knowing how best to groom your cat, then read on to explore some top tips that might help.
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How Do You Relieve A Stressed Cat Or Kitten
It’s not always easy to know how to relieve your cat or kitten that turns out to be stressed. Once your vet has confirmed that it is in fact stress and not an underlying health problem, then it’s up to you to identify the possible causes of the stress.
Sometimes the cause of the stress is obvious, such as a change of home or a new arrival in the family. However, sometimes it can be much harder to find out. It could be down to boredom or perhaps a change in their food which they don’t agree with, even if they’ve accepted many dietary changes beforehand.
Once the origin of the stress has been identified, you can put measures in place to cancel out the cause, or perhaps get treatment from your vet. It could also be worth considering getting dietary supplements or calming pheromones. In worst case scenarios, medical treatment could also be considered.
To reassure a stressed cat, it is important to give them attention. You could, for example, play for longer with them, make new places of rest available , adapt their diet
Most importantly, try not to lose your temper with them if they make a mistake linked to stress. This could exacerbate the situation.
Put On Soft Music Or White Noise
Much like scent, cats are very sensitive to noise. Especially if your cats fear or stress is being caused by loud noises , providing alternative sound is a great solution. There has not been much research on music or sounds with regards to calming a cat, but one can try soft classical music or pleasant white noise and observe for how the cat responds, Parry says. At the least, it may reduce the impact of the scary noises by creating a buffer. Johnson adds that pairing this music or sound with a cozy room or kitty haven will increase the sense of calm. You may even try some cat-specific music, created by scientists from the University of Wisconsin as part of an extensive study.
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Is There A Way To Prevent This Behavior
You must provide ample outlets and opportunities for play on your terms. These should be aerobic play sessions so that the cat gets plenty of exercise. Keep a diary of when the cat is most active and when the play attacks are most likely to occur. Then schedule the play sessions in order to prevent and preempt these attacks before they are likely to occur, at a time when the cat would be most stimulated to chase and pounce. For example, if the cat seems most active or destructive in the evenings, try to circumvent problems by offering play at approximately the same time that the cat would begin. Should the cat begin to initiate the play session before you are ready, remember that you must ignore the cat and restart the session after the cat has calmed down. Next evening, begin a little earlier so you can beat the cat to the punch.
“You must provide ample outlets and opportunities for play on your terms.”
To try to maintain your cats interest in toys, you might consider a daily rotation of toys so that the cat is presented with a few new or different items daily. Pick up all the toys and place them in a box or basket out of the cats reach. Every day, take out a few toys or a bag or box, and set them out for the cat to play with. Increase novelty and interest by stuffing or coating the items with food or catnip.
Allow The Cat To Adjust
If the above tricks dont work, give your feline pal some space. Sometimes its best to leave your pet alone in a quiet room until it calms down on its own. You can use a towel to wrap the kitty in it as youre carrying it to the other room so that it wont scratch and bite or try to jump from your arms.
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Relaxing With Valerian Root
Valerian root has been used countless times throughout history to treat stress, insomnia, nervousness and headaches. Although there is little research that connects stress or anxiety with this natural herb, it hasnt stopped modern-day users from sharing their positive experiences.
Similarly, cats tend to love it as it also mimics catnip. The herb is known to naturally trigger an increase of gamma-aminobutyric acid found in the brain. This acid produces a relaxing effect, causing cats to nap or rest peacefully.
How To Calm An Overstimulated Cat
An overstimulated cat can be a confusing moment for a pet owner. One minute you are sitting there petting your cat, and a second later, the claws are out. It is crucial to know the body language of an overstimulated cat. Restlessness, twitching tail, laid-back ears, skin rippling, and moving head toward your hand. Slowly Move Away – Place your hands by your side and slowly step out from under the cat, letting them gently glide away from your body. Keep it Short Avoid prolonging petting sessions unless all signs point to your cat allowing that to happen. Regardless of how well you follow all of the rules to manage cat aggression, some cats may need natural remedies or medication to reduce the charge.
To say Biscuit lived an active life would be an understatement. Unfortunately, at the age of 10, she started to limp after trips to the dog park. It broke my heart to see her in pain doing what she loved the most.I started feeding her a raw food diet and added high-quality supplements to ensure her nutritional needs were met.Unfortunately, while she loved the food, the limping persisted.I decided to go to the vet. They quickly diagnosed her with osteoarthritis and prescribed a drug to help.Her limping stopped, and she was in less visible pain. For the first week, it seemed that this was the solution.A few days later, it was to my absolute shock that she…
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How To Stop Aggressive Cat Behavior: Environemnt
Cats are very sensitive animals and also react to their carer’s body language and attitude. When your cat is angry or agitated, don’t stand in front of it waiting for something to change. By doing this, you can make your cat feel more threatened as it will see you as an authoritative figure rather than a figure of justice. If you’re not in a situation of immediate danger, lie on the floor or sit on a low chair and get down to its level. Make yourself as small as your pet.
Patiently accept that your cat might occasionally behave violently, because it won’t always agree with everything that goes on around it . If your cat is aggressive, don’t punish it as this can only worsen the situation by increasing its fear and anxiety.
Animals don’t act aggressively for the sake of it. Remember that this is its way of saying that they feel threatened by something or someone. The best way to calm an aggressive cat is by removing or distancing the threat or the source of the fear. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to find out why your cat is suddenly aggressive:
- Is you cat surrounded by a lot of people?
- Are you dealing with an aggressive kitten towards older cat?
- Is your cat pregnant or in heat?
- Is your cat in pain?
- Is your cat surrounded by a lot of loud uncontrolled noises?
All of these can factor into why a cat is aggressive.
Reasons Why Your Cat Is Aggressive
The following are the main reasons why a cat might exhibit aggressive behavior. It can be one of them or a combination of two or more.
Without a doubt, pain is a major cause of aggression in cats. When the cat shows hostility to humans, it is often that the human is responsible for inflicting some pain to the cat. A cat in pain will produce a hissing sound with levels depending on the pain inflicted on him.
If you notice your kitten is suddenly becoming aggressive, you need to rush him to the vet for a check-up. Cats have the habit of hiding sickness which might turn out to be dangerous if left unchecked. If your cat is experiencing pain in specific areas of the body, he will be aggressive in a bid to prevent you from touching the area.
An environment that createsstress and anxiety in your cat will make him aggressive in his behavior. A stress-causing environment can be one where the family members are always in quarrels and fights or where you have too many cats in the house with no decent place to keep them.
Other reasons that cause stress and anxiety in cats include
- Unfair punishments from owners
- Lack of enough food, water, and toys.
- Very complicated routines or none at all.
- Loud noises for long hours.
- Staying in a cat carrier for very long.
You need to learn the early signs that cause anxiety which leads to stress in your cat. This measure is critical in ensuring that your feline friend does not develop into a dull and aggressive pet.
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Be Proactive With Your Aggressive Cat
In most cases, negative behavior can be fixed, especially if you catch it early on. Getting your cat spayed or neutered can also reduce aggression. In some cases, these procedures can completely eliminate a myriad of negative behaviors.
No matter what, make sure your cats have their very own safe place to hang out, relax, and spend quiet alone time. The Litter-Robot Cat Silo is a unique escape for your cat, but it is disguised as an elegant piece of furniture for your household so it wont stick out.
This piece of furniture can provide a safe and covered space for your cat to hang out in, and it is small enough so that it fits perfectly next to a chair or by the couch. This multi-purpose furniture piece is the perfect addition to any home. Plus, your cat will appreciate having his or her own space to hang out in!
If youre wondering how to calm an aggressive cat, follow the tips above. Talk to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist for further advice.
Cover photo by Jay Zhang
Why Trust The Spruce
As a feline-obsessed cat mom of three, Lindsay Boyers is always on the lookout for things that will make life easier and happier for her fur kids. Shes personally tried Feliway products with great success, but also spent some time talking with a qualified veterinarian to get recommendations for the most effective products and ingredients to help calm cats down.
For additional information on cat calming aids, we spoke to Dr. Zay Satchu, DVM, co-founder and Chief Veterinary Officer of Bond Vet.
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