Photo by Belfegore
Cat Aggression See: Methods and References (new window) for the philosophy behind presenting medical information and references used.
Any cat in pain may scratch or bite you. Handling a cat in pain should be done with care for both sakes. Also playing with our cat might lead to a relatively gentle bite or inadvertent scratch. This is not cat aggression – just play.
Aggressive cats are usually defensive cats (or as mentioned, in pain). It is defensive aggression. It can be avoided. Maternal aggression is a form of defensive aggression.
Cats need to be socialised to integrate with people and other animals. If this is missed at the best period of 3-9 weeks of age a cat may not necessarily get over its innate instinct to fear us and avoid us. Poorly socialized cats may be difficult (aggressive towards) both people and cats or other animals. This is relatively rare in my experience and a decent environment, good food and warmth will satisfy a domestic cat resulting in a relaxed cat provided health is not an issue either. Predatory instincts can be played out on us. This is a socialisation issue. For example pouncing on our feet etc. One cause of this is the cat being left alone too much. A second cat might be the answer to this problem. Another solution is engaging in play with our cat. Indoor cats (USA) need stimulation.
A lot of cases of aggression can be put down to “environmental stress”. The home in which the cat finds itself is causing stress. It might be a territorial due to an incoming cat for example although for a well socialised cat this should be less of a problem. Or hunger. A strange cat entering the home is likely to start some cat aggression. Usually cats do get used to each other, tolerate each other or become very friendly in time. There are several visitors’ stories on this subject on this site. Cats rely on scent to recognise other cats and us (as well as sight). A familiar cat may become unfamiliar when bathed and may be hissed at.
Petting/stroking: Some cats don’t like it or don’t like it in certain areas. We need to find out our cat’s likes and dislikes and obey her! Also petting can go too far for a cat and what was pleasant for the cat becomes unpleasant and defensive aggression clicks in. It might be due to being too forceful. We are much bigger and sometimes forget that. Petting for too long can have similar results. We should get to know our cats likes and dislikes and comply.
Thyroid problems in cats can cause cat aggression as can tumours.
There is also referred or redirected aggression. This is when a cat has become aggressive for any number of reasons, say environmental stress and then strikes out at an “innocent” person or cat. I think humans do this sometimes, so we should understand it.
If something is irritating a cat causing discomfort and a person inadvertently exacerbates the irritation the reaction may be aggression. Once again it most often boils down what we have or have not done coupled with our expectations. We as humans are sometimes aggressive. Cats are the same sometimes for good reason, of course and we should accommodate that. If my cat became aggressive I’d be looking at the environment I had created and the health of the cat.
If all the avenues have been covered and a vet visited without success, a natural herbal remedy may assist to overcome aggressive behaviour, at least on a temporary basis, until a fuller understanding of the problem has been reached. People use remedies such as Bachs Rescue Remedy and a cat (pet) equivalent for cat aggression is: PetAlive Aggression Formula for Stressed & Aggressive Pets (20g) (new window). I have, on occasion, resorted to this kind of remedy when for example my cat was stressed (but not aggressive). Although stress and aggression go hand in hand. In my case it was leaving her alone for too long due to work commitments. I regret that but it was forced on me.
Cat Aggression to Cat Health Problems Picture: Published under creative commons license.
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