Cat aggression is no laughing matter and can lead to even more problems with felines if not appropriately managed. Unfortunately, many cats are surrendered or re-homed due to cat aggression. According to Cornell University, 27% of cat surrenders are due to cat aggressions. Dry your eyes cupcake, all is not lost and there is good mews! There are very effective solutions to manage a kitty cat’s aggression and I will explore five ways to fix your cat’s aggression in this article.
- Redirect Aggression With Play Distraction
- Reward Non-Aggressive Behavior
- Gently Separate Aggressive Cat
- Avoid Petting These Sensitive Areas
- Create Boundaries
Sure, here’s an updated table with an additional column for products that can help with each method:
|Products that can help
|Redirect Aggression With Play Distraction
|Engage your cat in interactive play to redirect aggressive energy towards toys, helping to tire them and reduce aggression.
|Feather wands, interactive laser pointers, catnip toys
|Reward Non-Aggressive Behavior
|Positive reinforcement for calm and non-aggressive behavior encourages your cat to display more desirable actions.
|Cat treats, clicker training devices
|Gently Separate Aggressive Cat
|If your cat becomes too aggressive, separate them gently from the situation to give them time to calm down and relax.
|Cat calming pheromone sprays, separate safe spaces
|Avoid Petting These Sensitive Areas
|Identify and avoid touching areas on your cat’s body that trigger aggression, helping to prevent negative reactions.
|Observe cat behavior, avoid touching sensitive areas
|Establish clear boundaries in your home to prevent situations that could provoke aggression, creating a safer environment for your cat.
|Cat gates, elevated resting spots, scratching posts, hiding spots
Please note that the product suggestions are general examples and not endorsements of specific brands or products. Always ensure that any products you use are safe and suitable for your cat.
Redirect Cat Aggression With Play Distraction
One of the most common aggressions a feline displays is play aggression. Play aggression is very common in younger cats, male kitty cats and adult indoor cats that are bored. The solution for this type of aggression is very simply; redirect the aggression with play therapy.
Since your kitty cat is ready to lunge at you or your ankles, one of the best toys to immediately distract him is a wand toy. Something you can easily drag in front of him, and create movement that takes his eyes of your tempting legs. A favorite among felines (and definitely mine) is Da Bird by GoCat.
GoCat’s Da Bird is an excellent choice to redirect play aggression in a feline.
Once you have a wand with the birdy, you can buy other attachments so he has a variety to enjoy. If your cat is anything like Finnegan, she will love Da Rat. It is Finnegan’s absolute favorite attachment (after Da Bird). He loves to chew, rip and chase the rat. Finnegan loves to hold the rat between his paws and squish it while he violently assaults the rodent.
RELEVANT: Why Do Cats Purr? What Is It A Sign Of?
Reward Non-Aggressive Behavior
Rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad is much more effective for cat training and can be very effective for feline aggression. The time to give your cat treats is when he is calm and feeling relaxed. If you try to reward him when he is hyped up, that could teach him that anxious behavior gets rewarded. Do not punish your feline when he is aggressive, but also do not reinforce the behavior with treats.
When your cat is chill and enjoying your company like a good kitty, praise her calmness and let her enjoy a few kitty treats.
Most cats love Temptations cat treats; you can click here for the entire selection on Amazon. There are so many flavors and some are even soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside! Finnegan still loves chicken the best.
By creating a positive experience with calmness, your feline will start to learn that is the behavior that brings treats and praise.
Gently Separate Aggressive Cat
Sometimes a cat will become aggressive because he is overly territorial. These types of aggression can be treated by giving your cat a time out. If your cat is giving you signs you are in his chair, or another cat is cramping his space, try separating the feline by putting him in a room alone. Do not slam doors or hastily move him, simply pick him up and place him in another room that is separate from everything else.
Avoid Petting These Sensitive Areas
Cats have receptors all over their bodies which make them very sensitive to physical interaction. Many people do not understand how uncomfortable it is for a feline to be petted in the extremely sensitive places such as his back. The best analogy I have ever heard was from Jackson Galaxy. He described a cat having a sunburn, and anytime you pet the sunburn, it would be like putting clothes on a sunburn human. The rubbing is raw and scratchy. I will include the exact video Jackson discusses this at the bottom of this post.
Each kitty cat is a smidge different, so you can identify where your cat enjoys his pets, and where he does not by watching his body language. Live Science wrote a great article on this topic, here is the list they published:
Signs of cat enjoyment:
• Tail held upright and choosing to initiate contact.
• Purring and kneading you with their front paws.
• Gently waving their tail from side to side while held in the air.
• A relaxed posture and facial expression, ears pricked and pointed forwards.
• Giving you a gentle nudge if you pause while you’re stroking them.
Signs of dislike or tension:
• Shifting, moving or turning their head away from you.
• Remaining passive (no purring or rubbing)
• Exaggerated blinking, shaking their head or body or licking their nose
• Rapid, short bursts of grooming.
• Rippling or twitching skin, usually along their back.
• Swishing, thrashing or thumping tail.
• Ears flattening to the sides or rotating backwards.
• A sharp sudden turn of their head to face you or your hand.
• Biting, swiping or batting your hand away with their paw.” – LiveScience, Here’s the Best Way to Pet a Cat, According to Science
Just like being a good parent means having rules that are not always fun to enforce; being a good pet parent also requires boundaries and rules.
One of the best ways to teach a cat not to wake you up in the middle of the night to play, or have a heard of felines running over your face at 2:00AM is to keep your bedroom door closed. This can be a hard rule to enforce if you do not start teaching them early.
Another great practice to build a strong home foundation for your felines without getting bossed around too much, is to regulate feedings. By only serving food at the designated times everyday, your cat will learn who feeds them and be less inclined to ’bite the hand’.
Cats want you to be just as happy as you want them to be, but without understanding your pain points, they might not get the point. Stay disciplined with your strategy and you will soon find even the most aggressive cat can mellow out too.
In rare occasions, there are times you will need to consult with your vet about prescribing chill pills. Jackson addresses this in his video too.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) on Cat Aggression:
Why is my cat suddenly showing aggressive behavior?
Cats can display aggressive behavior due to various reasons. Sudden aggression could be triggered by fear, stress, pain, or changes in their environment. It could also be related to territorial issues, redirected aggression, or a response to perceived threats. Identifying the underlying cause is essential to address and resolve the aggression.
How can I differentiate between play aggression and serious aggression in my cat?
Play aggression and serious aggression can sometimes look similar, making it challenging to differentiate. Play aggression often involves play-like behavior, such as pouncing, batting, and biting without causing harm. Serious aggression, on the other hand, is more intense, and the cat may show signs of being tense, growl, hiss, or bite with force. If you are unsure, observe your cat’s body language and consult with a veterinarian or a feline behavior expert for a proper assessment.
Can cat aggression be treated or managed effectively?
Yes, cat aggression can be treated and managed effectively with the right approach. The first step is to rule out any medical issues by visiting your veterinarian. Once any medical concerns are addressed, behavior modification techniques can help. Redirecting aggressive energy through interactive play, positive reinforcement, and creating a cat-friendly environment can be beneficial. In some cases, professional help from a certified animal behaviorist may be required to tailor a specific behavior modification plan for your cat.
Note: This blog post is for informational purposes only, and if you have concerns about your cat’s behavior, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or a qualified feline behavior specialist for personalized advice.
Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC. She has a tuxedo adult cat and has had him since he was a baby kitten. Before her cat Finnegan, Lisa had had two FIV-positive cats for over a decade. They inspired Lisa to invent a cat enclosure and a portable catio so they could safely sit outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Lisa had a Poodle and a parakeet growing up. She currently loves to pet-sit for her neighbors’ dogs and cats.
Why is Kritter Kommunity Your Trusted Partner?
Our mission at Kritter Kommunity is to promote happy and healthy lives for pets and their owners. We specialize in Barkitecture and designing tips for pet-friendly homes, utilizing the natural instincts of cats, dogs, and small critters to create a home life that pets and people love. From tips on pet care to reviews on pet toys and