Dealing with feline aggression can be a challenge for any cat owner and one that can be painful as well as frustrating. Aggression can be caused by seizures or illness, including heart disease, so be sure to talk with your veterinarian first to see if your cat’s behavior could be managed with medication and/or additional training.
According to the Pet Behavior Clinic, there are various types of feline aggressions, including:
Aggression while playing: Kittens normally replace most of their social behavior with aggressive play at about 12 weeks of age and again around 8 months. Aggression at these ages is believed to be a part of learning to hunt and defend territory.
To prevent this problem, don’t encourage kittens to play with your hands or feet. Instead, direct their attempts to play to appropriate toys (such as balls on a string, crinkly tunnels, motorized toys, climbing posts and so on). If your pet insists on playing with you and ignores the toys, get up and walk away so that the behavior is not rewarded with your attention.
(Note: Laser beam toys are not appropriate. Kittens and cats need to be successful at some point in catching their “prey,” so these types of toys only result in frustrated, unhappy cats that may take it out on you.
Hormonal aggression: Un-neutered male cats and female cats in heat may exhibit aggressive behavior due to hormonal triggers. Having your cat spayed or neutered not only reduces the overpopulation of unwanted kittens who statistically have a low chance for long-term survival, but also reduces the cat’s tendency to have aggressive episodes.
Aggressive exercise: Your domestic cat is not that much different from large cats in the wild in that they are predators and their natural activities are suited for catching the food they need to survive. In homes, food is provided and cats sleep a good part of the day. If your cat does not go outside where they can catch mice and climb trees to work off their energy, they may need you to help provide ways for them to burn off that energy through play.
A climbing post near a window where they can watch birds and squirrels is excellent stimulation for a cat. Also, catnip toys can provide hours of great fun. Placing a ping pong ball in a dry bathtub or an empty medium-sized box on the floor, hanging things from a scratching post or even teaching your cat to fetch are all good ideas.
If your cat is stalking or chasing your feet, keep a spray bottle of water handy and spray when they attack (avoid the eyes). This also works well if they are attacking other cats in the home. Tossing a small bean bag at your cat right before they pounce can also be an effective distraction.
Over-stimulation: If your cat’s aggressions comes on suddenly while they are being petted, it may be caused by an abnormal sensitivity, especially noticeable a the base of the tail. If stroking your cat leads to them kneading with front paws and even drooling, they could be getting over-stimulated causing a sudden burst of aggression. Try just scratching behind the ears or under the chin.
Aggressive while restrained: If your cat is aggressive to you when you are giving medication or clipping nails, you should wrap them in a towel to do these things. To prevent your cat from fearing the towel, you can wrap them in a towel for about 10 seconds a few times each week. If necessary, a professional groomer or veterinary technician can trim nails for you. read more…