How to Handle An Aggressive Cat!
20 January, 2017
If you have just adopted a kitten or cat from a local shelter or adoption agency, most of the cats there will adjust to your home quickly. However, some cats might be on the shy side while others could be aggressive. Or maybe your cat has just started to act aggressively and you’re not sure why. It’s important that you get this under control so no one gets hurt!
There are several possible reasons for aggressive behavior:
Lack of handling as a kitten
Frequent handling of a kitten is a very important part of bringing up a friendly and gentle cat. When a kitten is not handled much or at all, he can grow up disliking being touched and preferring to be left alone. Such a cat may resist handling with a nip or a slap with his paws.
Your cat feels threatened
When a cat feels threatened, he may act in ways to defend himself. This is the most common type of aggressive behavior, so keep in mind that the goal when you’re developing a behavior modification plan is to make your cat feel comfortable, not threaten him further.
Some cats have a hard time distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate play. Forms of play that may be appropriate with their litter mates may make us bleed. These cats often have difficulty controlling themselves and may not have learned the self-control necessary to regulate their play before it causes injury.
Some cats are very particular where you pet them
Some cats are sensitive to being pet in certain areas and their annoyance can flair up in an instant. For example, some cats behave aggressively when touched on the rear end or when being pet while sitting on someone’s lap. Just as we might lash out to protect ourselves from pain or anticipated pain or just simple annoyance, our cats do the same.
An unhealthy diet
Certain foods, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies can trigger aggression. Your vet can help recommend a new diet if you think this is the source of the aggression or if you have changed your cat’s diet recently.
Below are some ways you can try to handle the aggressive behavior:
Make sure your cat’s nails are trimmed in case he or she lashes out
Trim your cat’s toenails (or, if necessary for safety, take her to your veterinarian or groomer for a pedicure) so that if she scratches, she will do less damage.
Try to identify the triggers of the aggressive behavior
Observe when you cat gets aggressive, the time, after or before meals, interactions with other animals and people, activities involving your cat, sounds and smells. Once you’ve identified them, avoid the triggers (when possible) while working on resolving the undesirable behavior.
Pay attention to your cat’s body language
For some cats, this means dilated pupils and a change in ear position. For other cats, it means a rapidly swishing tail or a crouched, tense body posture. The goal is to recognize the signs that your cat displays before she behaves aggressively and to stop interacting with her before she gets to that point. You may get hurt by ignoring the warning signals.
Try to catch your cat before he starts to act aggressively
Refocus your cat’s attention before he acts inappropriately: Try crinkling his favorite bag of treats or grabbing your cat’s favorite toy before your cat lashes out. You can even hand your kitty the toy to redirect his aggression towards the toy.
As always, if your cat acts appropriately, encourage the good behavior. Pet your kitty, give her a treat, whatever it is your cat likes. The more you encourage the good, the more your kitty will become less scared and aggressive.
Never punish your cat for the wrong behavior
Punishment may not only cause your cat to be more aggressive, it will damage your relationship. Even punishments that are considered mild should be avoided, including spritzing a cat with a spray bottle, throwing items at the cat (or elsewhere) to cause a noise, shaking a can with something noisy in it, and prolonged isolation.