A few people know why their cat is acting aggressive towards people and other animals. You may also ask why your cat is acting possessive towards an item, like a toy. So I thought I would write about a few of the different types of aggressive behavior our feline friends can display and some solutions on how you can help your friend change their behavior, in a positive loving way.
Kitten or Adult Cat Aggressive Play
Everyone who has ever had a kitten, all enjoy watching their cute fur ball run, pounce and go on the hunt for the mouse, string or perhaps your finger. In the process of your new friend making you laugh at their “oh so cuteness”, these actions are part of the felines natural growth for survival and in this process they use their teeth and claws as this is what helps them to capture, defend and kill their target. As fun as this may be, it can start a behavioral issue in regards to how your cat behaves towards people and other animals.
It’s ok to play with your cat; in fact if you want your friend to be a social cat, playing with them and constant communication is the key; but with doing this, they will need some correction. Cats are no different than a dog or even a child…they have “bad” behavior too! Here are some signs that indicate your cat’s behavior is changing: they will crouch, flatten their ears, their pupils dilate and their tail swishes back and forth, they may start to “stalk” their prey. Now if your cat is acting this way because they are out “hunting” and not attacking a person or an animal it isn’t suppose to, then there is no “bad” cat behavior as this is part of their natural instinct. On the other hand, if they are, then that is the behavior that needs to be corrected.
It might take a few times of correcting and some patience but if you remain consistent, the behavior will change!
When you first get the kitten or if you obtained an adult cat, make it a house hold rule not to encourage any type of scratching or biting during play time. When your cat uses their nails or bite during play and you know your cat is only playing and not showing any type of aggression, saying their name will have them release; but, if you would like to take it a step further then when your cat uses their nails, touch their paws and say “no claws”. Doing this will teach your cat association; in turn whenever you say that, your cat won’t use their claws. If you obtained an adult cat or if your cat isn’t a kitten anymore and you can no longer handle playtime, this process will take a bit longer to get there but if you’re willing to put the time in to develop a relationship with your cat, the trust alone will have your cat willing to learn. If you notice that your cat is “stalking” you or getting ready to attack (pounce) you, make a loud noise like clap your hands, whistle, have a jar with a couple of pennies in it or a spray bottle and at the same time say “no” in a stern voice. This will change the cat’s attention and will change the behavior.
Cat Aggression towards People
There is a difference between aggressive kittens and adult cats. With kittens aggression is usually due to its breeder not handling it enough or showing it affection the first few weeks of their lives; by petting and socializing with them. To get the kitten out of this behavior is to show it love, hold them and get your kitten use to being touched and constantly talk to your cat. Even when you enter a room your cat is in, say hi and give a pet; this will change any behavior your kitten may be showing and it will help your cat become more social with you and your family…still correcting any behavior issues with the behavioral tips stated above in “kitten or adult cat aggression play“.
Adult cats that are aggressive towards people will take patience and consistency. Adult cats that show aggression towards people is usually caused by either one or all of these situations: abandonment (which creates a trust issue), abuse (unfortunately not everyone knows how to treat animals), it came from a home that allowed the cat to dominate everyone and everything. For adult cats that have been abandoned and abuse building trust will take time but once your furry friend realizes that you’re not going anywhere and not hurting them, they will make the best cat ever! If your cat is trying to dominate you, correct this right away! When you notice that your cat is acting dominate towards you depending on their actions, spray them with water, clap your hands or shake a jar; you may use all of these or find one that works for you. While you correct them make sure you say “no” in a stern voice.
Just remember to have patience and be consistent because you will have to correct them a few times before they get it.
First don’t ever approach the cat unless you want to chance being scratch or bit, which would not be “bad” behavior as the cat is scared and wants to protect themselves. In the beginning the cat will either run upstairs into a room or downstairs into the basement…in that case put the kitty litter and food there and give the cat a couple of days to relax and get use to your sounds and smells. It’s ok to call the cat and visit it where its hiding out but if it shows aggression say “no” and the cat’s name in a gentle voice and say “it’s ok”…Don’t be scared the cat isn’t going to jump out at you…than back away. After a couple of days and you notice that the cat still isn’t coming out but you notice that the food is starting to disappear and that there is poop in the litter, then it’s time to move the food and litter. Bring the dish and litter where you want to place them, once the cat gets hungry they will come out. Once the cat comes out a few times and noting attacks it, the cat will gain confidence and come down more. To get the cat to start being friendly, start with some treats…put a couple on the ground so your cat will come closer (don’t you make any sudden moves as this will spook your cat) then place a couple of treats in your hand. Once your cat comes and takes the treat rub the top of their head gently (this is how to start building trust). If your cat growls, say “no, be nice” and then get up, stop and try again later…this will take time and patience.
If your cat decides to show aggression by biting, hissing or scratching after or while you’re petting your cat, that is your cat trying to show dominance (who’s boss). To correct this behavior will definitely work your patience as you might get bit or scratched a few times before it stops. You will have to do everything stated above by stop playing or petting your cat and say “no, be nice”, perhaps make a loud noise or maybe even using one finger to tap the top of their head to show your cat you are the dominate one. To be clear using a finger to tap your cat is not abuse, sometimes a cat needs this especially when all else fails as this will show your cat that you are dominate and will not tolerate the “bad” behavior.
Territorial Cat Aggression
This usually happens when a new cat or animal is brought into your home. The cat you owned first will want to show the new cat who “the boss” is and this is normal as its part of the cats natural instinct. The behavioral characteristics you may see your cat display are hissing, spitting, hair standing up, crouching and growling, the most dominant cat will attack the other cats. The dominant cat will let out a low distinctive cry if the other cat comes within the area where they are hiding. Cats that are in this type of situation and feeling excessive stress, fear and anger will frequently urine spray and sometimes middening (stool left in very prominent locations so it’s not easily missed by other cats, to mark territory). Cats will often choose to middening on paths that are of importance and may feel competitive with other cat’s for these areas. According to the temperament of the submissive or new cat, they may become stressed and stop going to areas of the house and just use the litter or eat when the aggressive cat is not around. In such cases cats might start hide, to urinate, to lick and groom excessively or other stress related activities.
To help avoid any undue stress, when introducing your cat to a new cat, it will take patience and note that they will fight as cats are known to be solitary animals. In a household situation this is how they will also develop a pecking order. When you first introduce your new cat remain calm, your cat can feel your energy and that in its self can create some fights. When you get home its best to have your cat in the bedroom it sleeps in the most and close the door; this will allow your new cat to relax, see where the food and litter are and most important it has the chance of smelling your cats scent before WWII happens. After about an hour, it’s time to start the introductory, get water bottle ready, then to go get your cat (do not bring the new cat up, unless you don’t mind possibility of being scratched)…your cat will show some aggression so as soon as they meet and you notice the behavior changing say “no, be nice”…you will have to repeat this a couple of times…you only spray the attacking cat and continue telling them to be nice.
Once they’ve been sprayed they will run off to go dry themselves and relax; but don’t think that is the end of it…expect the first night to have some turmoil. Just remember that there will be some fighting as your cat doesn’t want to share and is trying to show “who’s boss” while the new cat is trying to make its mark and possibility wants to be “boss” but don’t worry the fighting will stop and as long as you correct any aggression and continue to show love like nothing has change, i.e. continue the amount and the way you play, keep up with petting and brushing…pretty much don’t change anything from how it was before and show the new cat the same; they will become friends!