One of the most common issues observed in cats by animal behaviorists is aggressiveness in their behavioral patterns. This is normal in certain situations, especially when a cat is trying to warn off a potential predator. Nevertheless, continuous aggression needs to be dealt with.
In comparison, dog aggressiveness is more noticeable than that of cats because cats do not necessarily pursue their victims to show aggression. Nevertheless, aggressive cats are more formidable.
When aggressive, cats use both their teeth and claws to attack. Cat bites result in painful and severe lacerations and this may cause infections for the victim.
But, is there a way to effectively deal with the aggressive behavior of your feline friend? Let's find out.
Types of cat's aggression and how to effectively deal with them
It's important to determine the reason for a cat's aggressive behavior, in other to know the type of aggressiveness and how to correctly manage it.
The general categories of feline aggressiveness and ways of addressing them are as follows:
Aggressive play is most commonly shown by young cats and kittens who either lack the opportunities to play or were not brought up with their littermates.
During the time spent with littermates, an important part of the cat's life is the appropriate learning of how to play with other kittens.
Too hard scratches or bites are learned by cats when there's a stop of retaliation or play from the littermates. This important lesson might not be learned by cats who are brought up alone in their early lives.
Thrashing of tails back and forth, pinning of their ears to the head, and dilated pupils will often be engaged in by cats that are about to start playing aggressively. They have the ability to stalk their target (animal or a human) and pounce from their hiding place as the target passes by.
To cope with this, determine if there is a pattern to when and where aggressive behavior occurs. If found, the aggressiveness should be preempted by distracting the cat with play or denying the cat access to places that encourage the behavior–like under the bed.
Signaling a cat’s whereabouts before and during aggressive behavior can be achieved with a bell on a breakaway collar.
Using noise deterrents within a few seconds of aggressive behavior, like a person hissing, or can blasting due to compressed air, can help startle a cat and his attention to being redirected.
Distracting him and refocusing his attention is the goal, and not scaring the cat in the process. Applying physical punishment or touching a cat during these times may cause the cat to become fearful of people. Ignoring your cat engaged in aggressive play may make them see it as normal behavior.
This may occur when a cat experiences unfamiliar stimuli, like a new animal, person, or noise, or exposure to an experience that associates with unpleasant events, like a trip to the veterinarian.
Flattening of ears against the heads, hissing, baring of their teeth, or crouching low to the ground with the tail tucked under their body and their fur standing, are demonstrated by cats with fear-induced aggression.
Identifying and avoiding situations that lead to a fearful response is one of the best ways to deal with fear-induced aggression. Rewarding non-aggressive behavior with food and praise, and desensitization by brief exposure of the cat to stimulus causing fear from afar can also be helpful.
Do not try to console your cat when they show aggression so that they won't interpret it as approval of the aggression. Also, do not retreat or show fear, so as not to reinforce the behavior if such is wanted by the cat. To handle fear-induced, simply remove the cause of the fear.
In an attempt to avoid touch, movement, or certain activities that might worsen pain, cats tend to be aggressive while in pain. In a case of a cat with osteoarthritis, the cat may show aggression due to touch or manipulation of their joints and may hiss, bite, or scratch in response.
Oftentimes, cats tend to continue acting aggressively, after the previous painful parts of their body have healed, in other to avoid such experiences again.
Refraining from touching painful parts of a cat’s body, and establishing an effective therapeutic plan for pain control through a veterinarian are effective ways of dealing with this type of aggression.
Cats can show aggression when trying to establish or defend their territories. In this case, aggression towards new cats and other animals or people that come close to their territories is being displayed.
Also, your cat may launch an attack on resident cats that had been away for a while. This type of aggression is usually displayed by chasing, swatting, and attacking intruding individuals.
When dealing with territorial aggressiveness, do not rush an introduction of a new cat or another animal into your cat's territory. Confinement of new or returning cats to their own room with a separate litter box, water, and food should be ensured.
After some days, place the new or returning cat with the aggressive cat and lock the door for about 30 minutes before returning the cats to their various rooms. Repeat the steps daily for several days.
After the previous step, place the cats at the opposite ends of the same room in carriers with harnesses, to ensure they see and smell each other without interaction. Ensure good feeding of the cats for positive experience association of being fed in the presence of each other. The step should be enhanced repeatedly for several days by gradually reducing the distance between the two cats.
After a few days, release the two cats in the same room, but keep them at a distance and feed them. Gradually begin to feed them close to each other before eventually feeding them on the same plate when they've become familiar with each other.
Depending on the cats involved, the process may last from days to months. In certain cases, medication prescription by a veterinarian to one or both cats to prevent adverse interactions may be employed. For such, prescribed medication must be used in alignment with the gradual desensitization process stated above.
You should avoid putting your hand or any body part between the fighting cats, as serious injury may take place. Hindrances like cardboard-made panels or baby gate, lightwood, or plastic to separate aggressive cats is effective.
ConclusionAlthough it may be challenging to cope with an aggressive cat, especially if you keep different kinds of animals, it is however not impossible to effectively deal with your cat to significantly reduce their aggressive behavior.
Depending on the type of aggression displayed by your cat, you can always help your cat to behave less aggressively. For instance, you shouldn't pick your cat's kittens when your feline is still nursing them. Also, avoid touching painful parts of your cat's body.
All animals have the intuitive behavior of showing aggression towards another animal competing with them for food, space, or sex mates. Thus, separating your cat from the source of aggression can be helpful in effectively dealing with your feline aggressive behavior.