One way cats are misunderstood is through aggression. There is generally always a reason for the aggression, medical or frustration. The first step is to always take your cat to the vet to make sure there are no underlying healthy issues.
Step 1: One type of feline aggressive behavior is pain aggression, so it is important to ensure that the cat is healthy. Even if it is not in pain, certain medical conditions and even the medicines themselves can make the cat extra sensitive or irritable. So your cat needs a trip to the vet.
Step 2: Spay/Neutering. This might help lessen aggressive tendencies associated with hormones.
Step 3: Avoid touching areas that trigger aggression when handling a cat that displays petting aggression. The back and belly are two areas that can be sensitive. Even if the cat seeks the attention, be aware of dilated pupils, flattened ears, or a rapidly swishing tail. These are signs of agitation, so when you notice them, stop petting the cat. Alternately, you can try to train the cat to better tolerate petting by stroking it briefly, then giving it a reward, such as a treat or favorite toy. The next time, stroke it for a bit longer, stopping before it becomes agitated and treating it. Eventually, the cat may learn to tolerate lengthy periods of attention.
Step 4: If the cat is becoming aggressive or fearful toward one or more people in the household, give that person control over something the cat wants, such as its food. Allowing the person toward whom the cat is being aggressive to control its feeding schedule teaches the cat that it must earn its reward from that person with good behavior. Bring the person into the same room so it is aware of the cat is person, but not close enough to be alarmed. Pet the cat and give it a treat. Allow the person to get a bit closer, giving the cat more treats if it does not react with fear. Let the person gradually get closer, until they can approach without the cat being afraid. This may take several visits.
Step 5: Playtime! Make sure to offer plenty of playtime, at least one hour a day. If you direct the feline’s attention and energy to hunting, then the cat will get out a lot of frustration as well as bond with you. It is great to give your cat shelves, cat treats, and activities to keep him occupied when you are away. A great toy that any cat will love is: “Da Bird”.
Step 6: Introduce new people and friends slowly to avoid territorial aggression. If the cat is new to the home, isolate the cat in one room first, letting him adjust to his new home and allowing existing pets to get used to his smell. Once the foster cat and family pets show no outward signs of aggression, it is safe to introduce the foster cat into more areas of the home. Maintain close supervision until you are sure all will go smoothly.
Tips & Warnings
- Many declawed cats are known to be aggressive. This is normally because they do not have a defense and cannot defend themselves. This is when they become bitty. When a declawed cat swats, people laugh or think it is cute. When a cat with claws swats people jump back. A cat that cannot use it’s natural ways of saying “leave me alone” is defenseless. If you have a declawed cat make sure it feels secure and you watch it’s warning signs when it is saying “Enough!”.
- Patience and consistency are keys in overcoming feline aggression.
- Never punish a cat for aggressive behavior, especially if it is fear-based. This will make the cat more fearful, and it will then exhibit even more aggression.