Aggression in Cats: Future My Cat from Hell contestant?
We have all seen My Cat From Hell, if you haven’t here is a brief clip
Ya that is one pissed off kitty!
Aggression is one of the most complicated cat behavior problems and is extremely dangerous for anyone exposed to it, whether it is yourself or another animal. Aggressive cats cause painful scratches and bites and may also transmit serious diseases to the pet owners.
Did you know that 80% of cat bites become infected? Ya it is true!
So if your cat begins to show symptoms of aggression, the following tips can come in handy in preventing damage and helping your kitty!
Tip 1: Determine the source of aggression in your cat using relevant help
First thing is first, we must rule out any medical issues that your poor aggressive off cat is going through!
According to the ASPCA:
“Aggression is the second most common feline behavior problem seen by animal behaviorists.”
And there are a lot of reasons that cats can become hostile, which we will cover below in more detail. As far as medically goes there are a wide variety of issues including painful conditions, cats with orthopedic problems, thyroid abnormality, adrenal dysfunction, cognitive dysfunction, neurological disorders and sensory deficits can show increased irritability and aggression. Elderly and Senior cats can suffer from confusion and insecurity, which can also cause aggressive behavior. Worst off the medication that your cat is being prescribed can also cause potential aggression issues!
This is why the vet plays such an important role in diagnosing and ruling out any of these potential issues.
A good at home potential diagnosis for a couple of these is how your cat is responding to behaviors and when he is becoming aggressive.
Petting Induced Aggression in Cats
This is an easy one! And one that we see a lot on shows with overly aggressive cats that tend to lash out when they are pet or touched. I personally have a instance of this with my cat over on our Instagram page. I call this kitty PTSD, as there is not much known to the reason why but every cat I have had that gets aggressive or irritated due to affection has come from a rough background or been through trauma.
In the case of Dani, she was rescued from a breeder hoarding situation of Savannah Cats. Where she was kept in a chicken box, one of those where you can’t move around much. After she was rescued she spent 2 years in a shelter, where unfortunately for her, she was deemed a feral cat and thus was kept outside in a pen. She never got human affection and when she did it was hands reaching for her to perform vet procedures.
Despite hating to be touched, and biting everyone while they wrangled her with a net for me to get her home, she is now my feral girl and we are working towards building our trust.
In the meantime however, Dani exhibits this behavior pretty spot on. If you pet her for more than a few minutes she will run off. She will cuddle you only to get up and run away a bit later. But I feel this form of aggressive cat behavior can be worked through with time and trust building.
You just must be aware of aggressive cat signals which include:
- Quickly turning their head toward a person’s hand
- Twitching or flipping their tail
- Flattening their ears or rotating them forward and back
- Dilating pupils <— This is giveaway!
Pain induced aggression in cats
This is the other one that you may think is petting induced but it is actually medical!
“Pain-induced and irritable aggression are triggered by pain, frustration or deprivation, and they can be directed toward people, animals and objects.”
This occurs a lot in senior cats as they develop arthritis or osteoporosis . When you pet them it causes them discomfort and they can lash out. This is a main reason why investing in a vet for your cats aggressive behavior is a must!
Tip 2: Distract the cat before intense aggression sets in
This tip is all about knowing your cat’s body language! Then once you are aware of what may be going on find a positive outlet for that aggression rather than letting it manifest in a negative way. Such as you getting scratched up!
Understanding your cats tails body language is the key to being prepared for an aggressive cat!
So lets follow along with this happy infographic!
Cat tail is curled up and facing the sky
This is a happy cat and is as far from aggressive cat behavior as he could be, I am sure you have seen this behavior when you come home or when you have food for you kitty.
Cat tail is straight up in the air and occasionally it is twitching.
This is a potential one to be on guard for aggressive cat behavior. Not in its current state because he could just be really excited but it does mean whether excited or worried you cat is all wired up.
So this could go either way, it will evolve into happy pets and your kitty is excited to see you. Or something has your cat very nervous and it swings to an aggressive cat tail!
Everyone knows this one!
The famous cat puff tail! When your cat is overly excited or feels threatened they make themselves as big as possible and what does that mean! Ya! Puff out all your fur everywhere! An overly puffed tail is a cat on edge and could easily make an aggressive action to defend itself!
A cat tail that is straight up and vibrates slightly from my experience is a cat that is very happy to see you.
Dani does this a lot when I get home from work or wake up in the morning, generally followed by some meows and lots of petting on my part.
This is not a tail I would worry about personally even though it can mean an agitation I have never seen it that way.
Everything below here are aggressive postures, so take notes if this is your cat.
Here is a classic aggressive cat stance!
Tail straight up, back bent, chest close to the ground. This cat is ready to protect his vital organs and damage yours!
This is when the diversion of energy may help you in trying to get his attention onto a toy or blink at him slowly to show you are not an enemy.
A inclined tail that is straight is a sign of slight aggression, the tail is making its way to that final locked upright position mentioned above but the cat is not sure if it needs to commit to the attack yet.
A tucked tail, is a sign of fright. Not just lowered. Plenty of cats will lower their tail and walk around so don’t think they are always scared. However if they are tucking it up under their torso then they are scared and taking a defensive stance to once again protect any vital organs. Definitely not a time to approach or if you do be cautious.
When a cat is quickly jerking his tail back and forth he is showing signs of agitation. Could be he is overly excited to play could mean whatever is happening is getting him angry.
This is a great time to break out his favorite toy and see if he just wants to unleash that energy that he has built up!
I would always try to divert aggression in cats with a toy. While using a treat might be tempting you might end up awarding aggressive behavior and then you will get more and more of it.
Tip 3: Invest in cat calming products
This deals with purchasing products which are designed to calm down you aggressive kitty. Most of these products deal with releasing pheromones which will help calm your cat much in the way that would introduce a new cat via smell transfer.
I try not to talk about products too much outside of the reviews section, so that people that don’t want to deal with product links don’t have to. But this product has saved my life too many times to not mention it here as tip#3. I specifically have always used a product called Feliway. This is a product that you plug into a wall socket, like you would a air freshener but instead if pumps out cat pheromones that you cannot smell but will calm down your cat.
I have used these whenever I had a lot of company over or when I was introducing Dani to my other cats due to her feral nature.
It worked like a charm and now everyone is best friends around here! There are plenty of other products like this one that come in collar format, sprays and other diffusers. I have only had experience with Feliway so I won’t recommend the others personally but I am sure most would do the trick.
Tip 4: Do not punish cats for their aggressive behavior
Keeping this one nice and brief because it speaks for itself!
Do NOT punish your cat for aggressive behavior. Do not swing at it, throw something at it, spray it with stuff. Nothing!
That may be enough to get it to run away or stop what it is doing for now but it will only keep your cat aggressive and make him feel justified in his behavior!
Tip 5: Cats are intelligent and need mental stimulation
Cats that are bored, lack sufficient activity and demand more attention turn to aggression in order to release their underutilized energy.
Keep in mind what breed of cat you have!
I answer answers for people all the time regarding their aggressive Bengal cats. Guess what it isn’t the cat! That is a high energy breed and it needs more energy outlets.
Keep your cats engaged by playing them, offering them new toys, taking them on regular walks and rewarding them each time they exhibit good behavior.
Cats prefer a rapid environment and enjoy novelty. Keep them excited by introducing conducive changes into their living environment and take additional care while choosing the pet toys (some toys could encourage aggressive behavior).
Another thing is to make sure that your cat is happy with his environment. Does he have enough tree’s? Does he have places to call his own?
These things matter and provide him with a safe stimulated environment that will give him outlets for that energy.
Tip 6: Try to condition their behavior under the guidance of a cat behaviorist
Finally, take the assistance of an animal behaviorist and try to condition their behavior. Conditioning is a psychological trick that uses positive reinforcement to achieve a desired behavior in an animal or change its undesirable acts.
While finding cat behaviorists can be a challenging task you do always have resources here at Cattify! No need to flex your paycheck!
Feel free to reach out to us on Facebook and we will be happy to help.
Behavioral problems are a part of cat parenting and aggression is more than common. By using these tips, pet parents can resolve the problem in young as well as older cats.