Cat Behaviour: Aggression Towards People

By Valdette Muller| April 20, 2018 | Blog

Cat aggression is the second most common feline behaviour problem seen by animal behaviourists.

Is your cat biting or scratching you, stalking you as you as you come closer towards it and then pouncing on you? Is your cat biting you after a short time of petting or after you touch your cat in a certain place of its body? These could be symptoms of cat aggression.

Reasons for a cat becoming aggressive can be very complex and unique to each cat.

Aggression in cats is mostly taken less seriously then aggression in dogs. This is because cats are smaller in size and seem less threatening.

Keep in mind that Aggression, is defined as a hostile or violent behaviour intended to dominate or intimidate.” Some displays of seemingly aggressive behaviour can actually be a normal way for a cat to communicate. Cat owners have to discern for themselves or seek expert advice.

What are the causes of cat aggression.

First rule out any medical issues and causes. Aggression could be the result of your cat feeling pain or discomfort. Take your cat to see a vet for a proper examination. Speak to your vet about your cat’s aggressive tendencies.

Consider your cat’s prior experiences in life.

It is possible that your cat was abused before joining you in your home, this is especially true of rescue animals. Was your cat perhaps abandoned by previous owners or was it taken away from its mother at too young an age? It may be that they were starved of attention and affection, or never given the chance to socialise properly with people?

With those questions asked, there are several known causes behind aggressive behaviour in cats, including:

  • Redirection and improper upbringing
  • Fear
  • Pain and sensitivity
  • Dislike of petting and social interaction
  • Play and excitement

If you have a nervous or fearful cat, it may feel threatened or overwhelmed by something or someone in the house. As a result the cat will try to defend itself constantly.

It is important to recognise your cat’s body language and understand what they feel comfortable or uncomfortable with. Help make your cat feel comfortable and less fearful by bonding with your cat, be patient with your cat and let them come to you.

Your cat may have had the misfortune of not understanding how to play or understand when enough is enough. Too much play and excitement could get your cat excited to a point when enthusiasm manifests as agression.

When a cat misinterprets play or affection for aggression, it is possible your cat may not have ever learnt, from other cats or its biological family, how to act and behave socially . Hand-reared kittens sometimes miss the roughhousing associated with litter life and do not necessarily learn how to moderate their play attacks. These cats can grow into adults who seem to lash out viciously for no reason. It is important for a kitten to learn the difference between playfulness and roughness.

It could be that your cat has never been near, touched, played or had any social interaction with another human before you, your cat could find it hard to trust humans. This would be as a result of previous experiences leading to stress and anxiety, which can cause your cat to attack another pet or person in your home who it feels may be a threat.

What should I do for my cat?

When it comes to troubled and misunderstood cats, it is important that you understand what sets off the aggression towards you and then change the way you treat your cat or it’s environment accordingly.

If you are finding it hard to play with or pet your cat without them becoming aggressive, try to pet your cat’s head only or allow your cat to come towards your hand and let them sniff and get used to you slowly. Refrain from petting the rest of your cat’s body if this triggers their aggression.

If petting is getting to much for your cat, stop petting and allow your cat some space, then try again until your cat associates your hand with only affection and not aggression.

Give your cat toys to play with instead of just using your hands or fingers. Whether your cat is aggressive or not, cats need to bite, chew and scratch for fun and practice, this also helps with bonding. Bonding is an important part of eliminating the sense of a threat, by allowing your cat to get to know you more so that they can associate you with a care giver and your home as their safe place.

 

Sources: https://www.thespruce.com/cat-behavior-problems-554077

https://www2.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feline-behavior-problems-aggression

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