Cat aggression can result in a dangerous environment for you and your family, especially if there are any small children around. It's important to be able to recognize the signs of aggression in cats, and to address the issue before it escalates.
Aggression can be caused by a variety of different things and some may be more difficult to deal with than others. Some cats just have moments of aggression and are then fine, whereas others can be aggressive pretty much all of the time.
Early intervention is a must to prevent this cat aggression from becoming a habit. There are many methods in training cats that can help prevent them from becoming aggressive.
First off, don't do anything physically abusive to your cat to stop his aggression, such as swatting his nose with your finger. This can actually do more harm than good by causing your cat to become fearful and anxious. Some cats may even see this as a challenge, and could become more aggressive.
Some vets may prescribe different medications for cat aggression, just keep in mind that these are generally only helpful if combined with behaviour modification or a change in their surroundings.
When you see the warning signs of aggression, try to startle your cat without any physical contact. This can sometimes help break his focus. If you have more than one cat expressing signs of aggression, separate them and reintroduce them slowly.
Use food treats to reward proper, non aggressive behaviour. This will help your cat to associate certain types of behaviour (non-aggressive) with yummy treats!
Kittens and young cats have a natural tendency to be aggressive while they play by doing things like biting and scratching. This is why it's a good idea to give them toys and balls to play with, and to have cat scratchers and cat climbing trees to climb on.
It is advisable to have a vet check out your cat to be sure that his aggression isn't due to any medical reasons.
There are several different types of cat aggression. These include:
Cats are natural predators, so they instinctively want to hunt. This is a good reason to give your cat a variety of toys to play with. Not only do they enjoy playtime, it also works as a great way to help strengthen their skills.
Cats that have been mistreated, or haven't been around other people or animals, will likely be fearful, and may act aggressively. Even a cat that has been socialized can, on occasion, display acts of aggressive behaviour. This could be from a stranger picking them up, a visit to the vet, or even when they are being groomed.
Just like with humans, a cat may simply be at their breaking point, and may not be able to handle a particular situation anymore, which could lead to more aggressive behaviour.
Once a cat sees that his aggressive behaviour helps him get rid of a threat, he will continue to be aggressive. In essence, he'll see himself as being rewarded for his aggressive behaviour. This is why it's important to consistently stop his aggression from the start.
This type of aggression is caused by a lack of socialization. Cats are naturally protective of what's theirs, so if another animal makes them feel threatened by coming into their area, they'll fight for it.
A cat may suddenly act aggressively by scratching or biting when he's getting too much attention, such as being stroked excessively. You could also have hit a sensitive or painful spot while petting him. The aggression could be your cat's way of saying "Stop!"
The best thing to do is to use common sense. Listen to what your cat is telling you, and don't push him too hard. If after few minutes of petting your cat, he seems obviously distressed, stop before he gets too aggressive.
If your cat is used to a quiet house, and it suddenly becomes loud for whatever reason, your cat may be unhappy with the noise, and start to get aggressive. This is why keeping your cat's surroundings and environment consistent is important.
Stop your cat from biting by starting off with some gentle play fighting. Praise your cat when he behaves, then increase the intensity of the playing, watching your cat the entire time. As soon as you see your cat's claws come out, freeze and "play dead". This will get your cat to calm down and put his claws back in, and when he does, you can go back to playing. If the cat still has their claws sticking out, do not attempt to play anymore until he has calmed down.
If he does scratch you, firmly say "NO" and walk away. By ending playtime abruptly in this way you will have caught your cat's attention. He will start to realize the impact of his bad behaviour and may eventually stop doing it entirely.
Socializing Your Cat: This is an important step during the kitten years, so that when fully grown, your cat won't have problems being around other people and animals. Take the time to bond with your cat, and also to show him affection, so that he's used to humans later in life.
As an adult cat this process is more difficult, and will take much more time. When dealing with strangers, give your cat more time so that he's always comfortable.
If your cat is nervous don't let people approach him, and don't force him to be around strangers. Let him go to them on his own terms, and when he's ready. This will help in building his confidence level.
Once your cat's ready, start getting him used to being around strangers. Do this slowly, and only when he's already in a relaxed state. Start off by having a stranger scratch his head, and then work on petting other areas. Just be sure that they don't pet any areas that the cat is already sensitive to. Reward your cat with treat after each step of progression. If he misbehaves when he's being fussed, don't give him a treat.