Dealing With an Aggressive Cat – Tips and Techniques
Got a cat that’s too aggressive towards you?
It’s not any fun when you can’t fully trust your furry friend.
The First Step – Figure Out Why She is Being Aggressive
The average cat isn’t naturally overly aggressive or defensive.
Unfortunately, some learn it as a kitten due to lack of socialization or perhaps a bad owner.
Many cases are a result of some previous traumatic life experience, or general fear or anxiety.
Some become aggressive due to something they see or perceive in their current environment.
And still others begin to lash out when they are hurt or unwell.
Typical reasons your cat is acting aggressively are these:
- He’s scared of you for some reason
- He’s scared of something else and is redirecting it at you
- He thinks he has to protect his territory from you or another cat
- He has an issue with another cat in your home
- He likes to play rough or play as if he is a hunter
- He isn’t feeling well and is feeling scared or vulnerable
- He’s had enough petting or human physical contact for a while
- She’s a new mother and feels she has to defend her offspring
Whatever the source of their aggression is, your mission is to resolve that issue, and thus, stop your cat’s unwanted behavior.
What To Do First
If you aren’t sure what the underlying issue is, you may need to spend some time observing your cat’s body language and keeping track of her behavior patterns.
Take notice of what seems to trigger aggressive behavior.
Does there seem to be a specific trigger that usually occurs? What is happening in their environment just before their behavior changes? Is there a specific person or animal that is present?
Understanding the environment and how she perceives it is is the first step.
Tips To Deal With an Aggressive Cat
Once you think you have determined what the issue is that is behind your cat’s behavior, you can take steps to help solve those issues.
Depending on what you believe is the cause for your kitty’s aggression, here is a collection of actions you may be able to take to alleviate the situation.
1. Break the Pattern
When you notice your cat is about to become aggressive, try to interrupt the pattern by distracting him.
You could introduce a toy into his environment while talking to him.
Unusual noises work well at distraction too. However, you don’t want to make a loud noise that could scare him and make the situation even worse.
However, if he has already started becoming aggressive, it’s usually best to stop and try again another time.
2. Reduce the Stress
Most cats prefer a low-stress home.
It isn’t always possible for homeowners to provide this. But, if nothing else, try to provide a room or set of rooms your kitty can retreat to when she needs to.
3. Block Your Cat From Seeing Stuff That Upsets Her
Some cats hate seeing outdoor cats near their territory.
If an animal is just outside your house or looking in your patio door, try to get them from coming around.
If you can’t control your yard, perhaps you can block your kitty’s view to the outside with a curtain or window blinds. Or maybe you can discourage your cat from sitting in the window.
4. Modify the Behavior
While it’s hard to do, you may be able to slowly change the behavior of an aggressive cat by using positive reinforcement.
By using treats, food, and kind words, you can reward good behavior. This type of positive reinforcement may help change undesirable behavior.
It takes time and patience, but it’s worthwhile if you can do it.
5. Give Them Alternatives
Some cats have so much pent-up energy that it turns into overly aggressive behavior.
You can provide some alternatives for them to burn off some energy. Give them an interesting environment. Tire them out.
Maybe you can provide things for them to climb on, sleep up high on, scratch on, crawl into, carry around, or push around.
You can spend a little more time with them too, engaging them in playful activities.
6. Give New Mothers Some Space
New mother cats can display maternal aggression when someone or some other animal approaches her kittens.
It’s perfectly natural for these mothers to want to protect their little ones. Give her some space. There usually isn’t any need for you to handle those kittens during their first few days.
Most new mothers will be fine with you being around (and you will want to be around too), but just be sensitive to her needs too.
If you need to examine her offspring and she is being aggressive, her favorite foods or treats may distract her for a few minutes while you take a look at those kittens.
7. Maybe Cut Back on Visitors
If your kitty is not a fan of the people you have over, you can’t let her rule your life, but maybe you can do a few things to help her out.
If you will be having a visitor, you can move kitty to another room before your guest shows up.
It’s not likely that your aggressive cat will want to socialize with new people.
You may want to suggest to your visitors that they ignore him if he decides to come out. Visitors should not stare at him or initiate any petting, even though it may seem like a natural thing to do.
8. Use a Pheromone Diffuser or Spray
There are sprays and diffusers that produce smells that can calm most cats down.
These products emit smells that replicate feline pheromones. Cats recognize these pheromones which can make them feel safe, relaxed and with less anxiety.
9. Give Her a Time Out
When your cat gets too aggressive during playtime, just stop what you’re doing and walk away.
Don’t try to pick her up and put her in another room, simply go away and stop playing with her.
10. Use Food and Treats
Use treats to reward good, non-aggressive behavior.
You may also use feeding time as a way to build their trust.
If she is fearful of another person, that person could be in the room at a safe distance during feeding time.
Cats consider feeding time to be a positive experience, and by having that person in the room, you hope your kitty will start to become less scared of that person.
11. Know When to Stop Petting Him
Cats love to be pet, but there comes a time when many of them have had enough and want you to stop.
Some cats will suddenly stop purring. Others may start to twitch their tail. Some will flatten their ears back. Some will suddenly get up and leave.
You will have to be observant of your cat and how she responds. You will want to stop before she gets irritated and lashes out.
What Not To Do
Don’t physically strike or hit your cat. Don’t yell at her. You can change your voice a little so she knows you disapprove, but you want to remain calm.
Try to not get angry. Don’t throw things at her. Don’t scare her. Don’t stare at her. Don’t throw her off your lap. Don’t corner her. None of that helps.
Remember, she is little when compared to you. You don’t want her injured and you don’t want her to be scared of you.
Don’t approach an aggressive cat — let them come to you.
Don’t pick up an angry cat. But if you have to, protect yourself with thick gloves and long sleeves.
Some owners will throw a towel over a cat before picking him up. This works pretty well, but the cat will not like it at all. So you will have to have a plan about what you are doing with him.
Don’t encourage her to play with your feet or hands. Don’t allow her to think they are toys.
If you have multiple cats and they are really fighting, do not let them continue. You don’t want one or both injured.
A loud clap of the hands can often do the trick. But never attempt to touch or pick up a cat that is fighting.
Maybe Aggression is a Medical Problem
If you can’t identify any reason why your kitty is aggressive, maybe she is suffering from a medical condition.
She is lashing out because she is in pain and feels frustrated and vulnerable. This is called pain-related aggression.
She may have dental pain, arthritis, or areas that are painful to the touch. She doesn’t want anyone to touch her.
Taking her to a veterinarian for a check-up is a good idea.
Your vet may find some obvious medical condition.
He may be able to prescribe medication to reduce her discomfort and allow her to have a happier life. Her pain and aggression may be reduced dramatically.
If no medical reason is found, your vet may have some suggestions on what you might try.
The Last Resort
If you have a cat that is so aggressive that you can’t trust him any more — that’s a big problem.
You aren’t expected to live with a cat you are afraid of.
Cat scratches can be painful, but cat bites can be hazardous.
For the safety of your household, you may have to explore moving your cat to a different environment.
Finding another home for him, like on a small farm with a good family, might be the best thing to do. He will still have humans to take care of him, but he will also have plenty of freedom to do what he wants.
All cats deserve our patience and understanding.
NOTE: This article (along with the other articles on this site) is not intended to be medical or healthcare advice. Do not consider this article to be veterinarian or professional advice. The authors of this article are not doctors. They are not veterinarians. This article is to be read and understood as general information only. The medical advice you should depend on for your situation is the advice and guidance you receive from your own doctor who has examined your pet. Please call your vet with any concerns you have.
Is your cat kinda mean sometimes? Make your mean cat a little nicer.