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Causes of Cat Aggression

By Edited Mar 4, 2016 6 7

Cat Aggression

No one wants an aggressive cat, right ? It can be scary for owners to have aggressive unpredictable cats living under the same roof as themselves living in fear of being attacked. The good news is that cats prefer to avoid confrontation and all aggressive behavior has a root cause that can be addressed and ultimately their behavior can be changed. I have personally worked with dozens of household pets displaying a whole spectrum of aggressive behaviors, and never failed to tame them after digging into the cause of their aggressive behavior.

There are almost always warning signs that your cat is about to lash out in an aggressive manor, part of recognizing this comes from knowing your pet. Some cats raise the fur on their back to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating. They may start flicking their tail showing signs of anxiety, almost certainly their eyes will open wider and they will not be blinking softly.

Aggressive behavior can be categorized into a few of the more common causes. Here are some of the causes and ways to resolve the aggressive behavior your cat may be displaying.

Pain Aggression

Cats react aggressively to being hurt whether it is accidental or deliberate. You may not be aware if your cat has hurt a paw or has a wound under their fur from fighting outside, if you then touch that area your cat may growl and strike out at you.

This also applies it you accidentally stand on their tail, or a small child pulls their tail not knowing any better.

Older cats are prone to arthritis and need to be handled more cautiously.

If you think there might be an injury visible or not, you should seek the appropriate professional advice from your veterinarian.

Over Petting Aggression

This is one of the more common problems people have with their cats. It can be frustrating when you are relaxing with your cat on your lap petting them and you get a scratch in return. Also having your cat scratch or bite visitors can be embarrassing for owners.

The truth here is that in 9 out of 10 cases your cat will have given you warning signs that they are about to lash out and that they are near to having more than enough petting.

Look out for such signs as their purring ceasing, skin or fur twitching, tail lashing around, assertive head position, eyes wide open, meowing and shifting of body position.

Remember what we discussed earlier, every cat is different and display different personalities, if your cat does not like much fussing look out for the signs and respect that, in turn you will see less aggressive behavior and over time your cat will gain a greater tolerance for petting.

Play Aggression

Anyone who has bought up a kitten knows what it feels like to have your ankles or hands scratched while playing. Play aggression is more common in young kittens as they have more disposable energy and are satisfying their hunting needs.

There have been trends identified between the earlier a kitten was removed from its litter and mother to increased aggression while playing. This is because the kitten was denied the natural social and development that comes from learning and growing with their siblings.

The answer to this is to play with your cat more, use a laser pen, or a toy that’s on the end of a long stick or wire to save your fingers. Make you play often to get some of that play energy used up.

Territorial Aggression

I am sure most of us have heard cat screams and growls outside as a couple of neighboring cats settle their differences, but some of us have seen it inside the house too. Territorial aggression is not always a cat on cat problem, it can involve yourself, other pets in the house and even take time for a cat to feel comfortable in a new environment.

Outside territory disputes will be settled and their boundaries will be set naturally. It helps if you have an area in your yard for your pet so they can feel comfortable and not threatened by too many other animals.

Inside your house you can minimize the threats by making sure no stray animals are able to roam into the house and leave a scent and that your cat gets plenty of attention and is settled.

Cat Aggression

Inter-cat Aggression

Cats can be aggressive towards one another when living under the same roof. There can be a number of reasons for this and without witnessing firsthand the aggression, including where and how it takes place it’s hard to say exactly why this is happening.

There are however a few ways to help two or more cats share the same space indoors amicably. Firstly, you need to have the cats in the same room, preferably near to each other and feed them. If cats can eat close to one other without feeling threatened all else will follow.

Secondly, allow them to play near each other. Keep them interested with different toys aimed at each of them. Once cats can eat, rest and play near each other without incident they will, in time, become tolerant of each other, and possibly even friendly.

In Conclusion

These above mentioned causes of aggression should be able to help, if not solve any aggression problems you experience with you cat. If you have any further information or questions please leave a comment below.

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Comments

Feb 25, 2014 4:29am
RoseWrites
Thank you for explaining the types of aggression in cats - and for the helpful tips. I now have a rescue cat with some petting aggression (she's getting better with time).
Feb 25, 2014 6:00am
Yngwie
Thanks for taking the time to read. I too have a rescue cat, started off very aggressive but fully domesticated her now, she is a softie. :)
Mar 28, 2014 1:06am
Backbone
That article explains a lot. My cat's tail twitches when she has had enough.
Mar 28, 2014 1:59am
Faye
Nice introduction to cat aggression! People especially seem to struggle in comprehending the over petting aggression and play aggression, in my experience, so this should shed some light on that.

- From a fellow behaviourist ;)
Mar 28, 2014 2:28am
Yngwie
Thanks for reading guys and gals.

I'm facinated by felines, the intrigue me and I love sharing my experiences.

I'll certainly read your posts later Faye.
Mar 28, 2014 8:46am
Nineteenth
They're still better than dogs, right?
Mar 28, 2014 12:20pm
DionSmith
The over-petting aggression was a real eye opener for me. Great info in this article.
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