Aggression in Cats: How to Relax Your Cat
Everyone’s come across a nasty cat at some point. You go to pet the local pub’s cat and quicker than you can pull your hand away there are a set of claws and teeth locked into it. That’s my most recent experience, anyway.
But cat aggression becomes a real problem when it’s your pet and it lives in your home. It’s no longer funny at this point and is a real problem that needs dealing with, especially if you have kids around.
The truth is, there are so many reasons for a cat to behave aggressively towards humans and other animals, and the fault is often due to their environment.
Weaning too early, growing up on the street or in a shelter, and tensions between other animals are all perfectly valid reasons for an animal to act up.
But to fix the issue in your home, it’s important to first understand more about the behavior you’re seeing and what tends to cause it.
Aggression and What it Is
Cat aggression is a serious problem for many pet owners. Put simply, any anger your animal feels turns into some form of violent expression, typically aimed at you, the owner, and any other pets you have in the house.
This makes having a relationship with your animal incredibly difficult because usual behaviors like being playful, sociable, and energetic are replaced with confrontation and hostility.
The Signs of Aggression in Cats:
Aggressive cat behavior can manifest in a variety of ways and for various reasons. Cat growling, for example, is an obvious sign, but many require research in order to better understand how your feline is feeling. Some of the most common ones include:
- A stiff tail that rather than curved and pointing upwards is low to the ground
- Ears are positioned upright and they’re staring directly at you or another animal
- Exposing its teeth and claws
- Slow and stiff movements towards you or other pets
- Pupils are narrowed
- Your cat’s fur is standing on end, known as hackling
- Quick strikes, or using its paws to bring your hand or arm close to its teeth
How Aggressive Behavior Manifests in Cats
Cats need a lot of mental and physical stimulation in order to release a lot of the energy they have built up. Not providing this as a pet owner means at some point, they could lash out, sometimes unintentionally.
For example, using laser pens in play might seem fun but the feeling of never being able to catch what they’re chasing can cause some serious internal frustration and anxiety. In fact, this feeling of dissatisfaction is common for cats. Some of the most obvious causes include:
- Seeing other animals through the window and not being able to reach them, like birds, dogs, and other cats
- Interrupting a standoff or fight with another cat
- Being scared by other animals or objects they don’t recognize or understand
- When surrounded by other animals in shelters
- Loud and high pitch noises, perhaps from a television or music
With Other Cats
Some cats don’t play nice, it’s just how it is. While many cats love the companionship of other animals, there’s a lot of cats, especially older ones, that prefer to be left alone. Plus, they’re all cut from the same cloth so they’re bound to challenge each other once in a while and see one another as a threat to their turf. Especially males. As males get older, they’ll both no doubt enter into some pretty tense standoffs to show who’s boss.
Cats are hugely territorial animals, typically marking areas through urine spraying, chin rubbing, and frequent patrolling. Though males are the more likely culprits, females also mark their own turf and are prepared to challenge other animals and even people in order to maintain it. If your cat thinks it’s in charge of your home, you’ll need to show it who’s in charge as soon as possible. Not only will your house be frequently sprayed with urine, but your cat will see you as inferior, which makes fixing the aggression even more difficult.
If your cat’s from a shelter or you’ve adopted it from another owner, there’s likely no way you’ll ever find out the cause of its aggressive nature. Unless someone can tell you, you probably won’t be able to know what about its past environments has made it behave in such a way. As you do your best to bond with the cat, you might, over time, begin to recognize what frightens it, whether it’s the common separation anxiety in cats or disliking of loud noises. Then, you’ll be able to create conditions that make it as comfortable as possible, which will hopefully change its behavior over time.
Never get in the way of a mother and her babies. No matter how friendly your cat is, it’s going to be a lot less forgiving if you’re trying to interfere with her newborns, especially in the first few days since their birth. Other cats and animals tend to be what are perceived as the biggest threat to a cat’s litter, but if you see signs of aggression in your cat developing, it’s probably not a good idea to get in the way of her mothering.
Some cats, especially kittens, aren’t all that aware of their strength and ability to cause us pain. If you’re leaving yours at home alone for too long or it was weaned from its mother too early, they might not have the opportunity to learn to control their behavior. Your cat’s playfulness can lead to some deep bites and scratches and the damage isn’t exclusive to us humans, either. There’s a good chance it’s biting furniture as well as other pets that are around the house.
Work With Your Vet to Fix The Problem
Whether your cat is adopted or you’ve had it since it was a kitten, if you’re witnessing aggression problems, you’ll want to include your vet in the process as soon as possible. We can’t stress enough how much you should have your feline registered with a local or recommended vet practice. Getting a cat insurance policy ready for your first trip to the vet will cut the costs and give you an accurate behavioral issue diagnosis for much less money.
If your cat suddenly attacks, there’s always the chance that this aggression isn’t learned or defensive behavior but is rather a symptom of some form of a neurological condition or undiagnosed pain that needs treatment. With the correct medication, you should notice a substantial difference.