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Curbing Cat Aggression

 by zack on 15 May 2013 |
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While most cats are usually lovable, adorable, and infinitely happy to be caressed, there are times when a feline can become aggressive. Curbing that aggression can be easier said than done. Cats are complex and moody creatures with a penchant for being unmanageable when they’re apt. Discovering why cats bite can be a lot of work. Understanding feline aggression means recognizing the signs of an outburst and knowing the causes thereof.  

Causes of Cat Aggression:

Play - When a cat, especially a young one, is at play it exhibits natural predator behavior. This means it’s swatting with claws out, scratching, and biting. This could be aimed at your hand or foot. They might even try to sneak attack you while you’re rounding a corner.

Territorial- Cats are extremely territorial towards one another. If introduced in close proximity to another feline, your cat might have an adverse reaction.

Prey- Cats are skilled predators. They’re stealthy, quick, agile, and they possess sharp claws and teeth great for eviscerating small prey. Their natural evolutionary drives have left them with a strong urge to attack and kill smaller birds or rodents. This can be one of the most difficult types of cat aggression to stop.

Fear – When an unfamiliar and unwelcome stimulus pops up on the cat’s idyllic world they can often show unwanted aggression. This can be towards strangers, other animals, or even unfamiliar objects being introduced into their environments

Pain- This is sort of a no brainer, but if a cat is suffering from some sort of medical condition, or is simply mishandled this can lead to hissing, scratching, and biting. Even long after the fact, in the case of injury.

Misplaced- Cats can also get worked up by something they see and then immediately turn that anger toward another person or animal. An example of this could be a cat seeing something that displeases it outside the window, i.e. another cat, a bird, etc.; and then attacking you when you try to shoo it off of the window sill.

Signs of Cat Aggression:

Cats have body language just like people. It’s important to be able to read your cat, and learning to do that precisely will take time and observation. However, there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for like dilated pupils, a twitching tail, a low crouch with feet tucked under, and ears that are quickly flicking back and forth.

What to Do?

First off, never punish your cat physically. It does nothing, they don’t understand it, and it’s likely to increase anxiety which will in turn increase aggression.  Secondly, take the cat to a vet. Many aggression issues are due to physical discomfort which a vet visit can quickly clear up.

You can also quit paying any attention. Often a cat’s frustration is due to something you’re doing. As soon as they begin to exhibit aggressive behavior, simply walk away. Most importantly, if problems persist, you’ll need to see a pet behaviorist to diagnose and solve a problem with specificity.

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