Cat aggression is a serious problem. After all, no cat owner enjoys being bitten and scratched by their cat. Never mind the potential consequences should such incidents happen to someone who isn’t so inclined to forgive and forget. Fortunately, cat aggression isn’t an insurmountable problem so long as interested individuals are willing to put in the effort needed to do so. Here are 10 suggestions that can prove useful when it comes to cat aggression:
1. Understand the Cause of Cat Aggression
Cats can become aggressive for a wide range of reasons. As a result, interested individuals need to figure out the exact reason that their cat is becoming aggressive if they want to prevent it. One potential cause is their cat having a particularly strong inclination for rougher play than what their cat owner would like. Another potential cause is pain caused by some kind of underlying problem that is putting the cat in a worse mood than normal. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other potential causes that include but are not limited to fear, predatory instincts, and maternal instincts coming into play.
2. Consider Interrupting Cat Aggression
Under certain circumstances, it might be possible for cat owners to interrupt a case of cat aggression by providing some kind of distraction. One potential example would be whistling, while another potential example would be tossing a soft toy where the cat can see it.
3. Don’t Physically Handle an Aggressive Cat
With that said, cat owners should never ever try to deal with an aggressive cat by physically handling them. Suffice to say that already agitated cats will just get more agitated when this happens, thus increasing the chances of them lashing out at whoever it is that tries to handle them in said manner.
4. Provide Some Other Source of Stimulation
Apparently, it is possible for cats to get frustrated by not getting enough stimulation, which can increase the chances of them becoming aggressive. Due to this, it is a good idea to give cats a way to blow off some of their energy so that it won’t be channeled into aggressive behavior. The classic example would be playing with cats. However, interested individuals have plenty of other options such as cat condos, climbing perches, and scratching posts.
5. Aggressive Cats Might Be Aggressive Because of Fear
It is common for fearful cats to become aggressive cats. Thanks to this, interested individuals might want to familiarize themselves with the signs of fear in cats so that they can recognize it in their cat before taking the appropriate course of action to soothe their cat. In short, when a cat is puffing themselves up to look big, that is a strong indication that they are trying to make themselves seem more dangerous to a potential threat because they are afraid for some reason. Other signs include flattened ears, dilated pupils, and an unmistakable hissing sound. Please note that approaching a cat that is still in such a state is a bad idea because they will not respond well to say the least.
6. Aggressive Cats Might Be Aggressive Because of Frustration
Some sources suggest that cats can redirect their aggression when they are frustrated by their inability to express it. For example, they might become aggressive because they have spotted another cat in their territory. However, since they can’t actually get at said cat because they are stuck inside, they might redirect their aggression towards a much more accessible target.
7. Aggressive Cats Might Be Aggressive Because of Stress
Cats can get stressed out in the same way that humans can get stressed out. In fact, some cats can get stressed out with even more ease than their cat owners because cats are descended from predators that were prey to bigger predators, meaning that they can get freaked out when they feel too exposed. Having said that, there are plenty of other potential stressors that range from having to share a home with other cats to having to live in a new and unfamiliar environment.
8. Hormones Can Cause Cats to Fight Cats
It is natural for male cats to fight other male cats when there are female cats that are in heat. When this happens, interested individuals should stay out of the way because getting in the middle is a good way to get attacked by either one or both of the combatants. Instead, the surest option for preventing such scenarios is to make sure that cats have been properly spayed or neutered. Besides preventing aggression, this is also important for fighting the problem of cat over-population, which is a serious issue because animal welfare organizations don’t have anywhere near enough resources to take care of all of the feral cats that can be found out there thanks to uncontrolled breeding.
9. Physical Punishment Is a Bad Idea
Some people might be tempted to use physical punishment as a way to communicate to cats that aggression will not be tolerated. However, this is a very bad idea that is more or less guaranteed to backfire because most cats will interpret it as an attack on them. Not only is that bad for the bond between cat and cat owner, it is also a good way to make them more aggressive because of their perceived need to defend themselves.
10. Consider Behavioral Modification
Rather than physical punishment, cat owners might want to engage in other kinds of behavioral modification while being overseen by a cat specialist. One particularly popular method would be using food as a way to reward cats for being non-aggressive. Some people might be tempted to use negative reinforcement to go along with the positive reinforcement, but this isn’t a recommended course of action because cats will not react well to it. There might be some species that can be trained using negative reinforcement, but cats are definitely not one of them.