Cats are usually gentle towards their owners. They are incredibly patient, and it takes a lot to get them off balance. Contrary to stereotypes, they are also not false! So why does a cat attack its owner? It is impossible to give one answer to this question.
The reasons may be of both health and behavioral nature. Often we, the cat guardians, are also to blame for our pets’ behavior.
An aggressive cat is a big problem for the caretakers and the other animals around it. To combat inappropriate behavior, it is advisable to enlist the help of a professional.
The best solution is the service of a behaviorist, who will recognize the basis of bad behavior and will give ways to remove it.
Why does the cat attack the owner?
First of all, we should know that aggressive behavior may have nothing to do with aggression – although the cat attacks the owner, it does not show rage. This is what happens, for example, when the pet bites and scratches during play. The cat does not have negative feelings toward the human but simply does not know that it is not allowed to do so. It’s a result of taking the kitten away from its mother too early, upbringing mistakes made by the owner, or both.
As we would say colloquially, some situations bring the furry one out of balance: significant changes in the environment, the appearance of a new pet in the house, inappropriate behavior of people, etc. It’s also not uncommon that the cat’s aggression is a stress reaction. The cat gets nervous or afraid – fear is also the reason for aggressive behavior.
A cat can also be aggressive when it is in physical pain due to an injury or a chronic illness – in the latter case, the aggressive behavior can be repeated or even increased. In addition, some diseases directly affect the functioning of the brain, changing the behavior of the animal,
How does an aggressive cat behave?
An aggressive cat exhibits passive and active behaviors. The former takes the form of persistent staring, lurching to jump, sneaking up behind the prey, or, on the contrary, approaching it sideways. Although sometimes a cat’s attack seems unexpected, you can usually recognize impending aggression by watching closely. At first, it may be faster, stronger, and more sweeping movements of the tail and burping-like sounds. Your pet may also start meowing louder.
If we don’t withdraw at this point, the aggressive cat will begin to show even more apparent signs – it lays its ears down on itself, bends its tail into a ponytail or straightens it and pulls it up, and eats its fur and hisses, sometimes even spitting. In the case of a frightened mutt, the eyes are wide open, while pupils can be either very narrow or extremely wide.
When it comes to active aggression, there are claw attacks and scratching.
In case of extreme emotions, the cat bites, eats, hisses, snorts, growls, puffs, and makes threatening grunts. An angry cat shows sharp teeth, has an arched back, ears laid back, and eyes wide open. While dynamic behavior can be spotted straight away, passive behavior can go unnoticed by carers for a long time.
What could be the causes of aggression in a cat?
Aggressive cat often causes anxiety among household members. There may be at least several reasons for such undesirable behavior of our pet. To know them, first of all, it’s worth answering whether the problem is constant or happens only in specific situations.
- Aggression in cats, or rather, aggressive behavior, is usually triggered by external factors that lead to personal attacks. Among the stimuli that cause this behavior are primarily:
- Fear – a frightened purr may attack even if it is exceptionally gentle daily. Remember that the source of anxiety doesn’t have to be rational at all. Much depends on the sensitivity of the animal and its past traumas;
- Redirected aggression – occurs when the cat feels fear of a stimulus that it has no chance to reach and attack directly. This happens, for example, after seeing another animal behind a glass window. Then the pet may behave aggressively towards a living being that is closest to it, including even towards the caregiver;
- Touch – you are undoubtedly familiar with the situation when the pet comes to be petted but, after some time, begins to bite the hand that strokes him. It is difficult to determine the source of such behavior. You can usually avoid the attack by watching your cat. When he is clearly impatient and begins to wag his tail, it is probably best to leave him alone;
- Unmet behavioral needs include the need for physical activity, optimal nutrition, and rest (following the hunting – eating – sleeping chain). The cause of aggression in a cat may also be inappropriate living space for it – too little space, lack of hiding places, etc.
- Sometimes a cat’s aggression can be a constant problem, the cause of which is hard to see. Sometimes it manifests itself in uncastrated male cats. This is due in part to the need to protect territory. If your cat remains aggressive after neutering, the cause may lie in improper socialization. This problem often arises when kittens are separated from their mother too early.
If your cat’s aggressive behavior comes on suddenly, it may be due to illnesses accompanied by pain. The animal may react nervously to perceived physical discomfort. Sometimes aggression in a cat is caused by a neurological disorder.
How to deal with aggressive cat behavior?
Territorial aggression is best mitigated by adequately introducing the cat to the newcomer. Socialization with isolation is recommended. A slow process is a guarantee of proper functioning with each other daily. The aggressiveness of the cat, resulting from fear for itself, is best to wait – withdraw and give the animal time to calm down and get acquainted with the situation.
Never punish a cat for aggressive behavior. Punishments will increase stress and only make bad behavior worse. It is definitely better to reward for desired reactions. You can use products that mimic the cat’s natural cheek pheromones so that the cat perceives the environment as friendly and safe. If we cannot cope with the pet’s aggression on our own, we should use the help of a behaviorist.
The undesirable behavior of the pet will reflect on the household members and other animals that live with it. Stressed cats often have urinary tract problems, including kidney stones or cystitis. The cat terrorist wounds them, makes them nervous and stressed, and extreme emotions can lead to self-mutilation – licking and biting the fur.
Cat aggression during play
It is perfectly natural for kittens to use their claws and teeth during play. However, the cat mom should teach redirecting such behaviors to toys over time. The problem with aggression in a cat during play is usually caused by the fact that the kitten was separated from its mother too early, so it didn’t have the opportunity to learn the limits of play and aggression in a natural, primal way.
Remember that the minimum age when you can take a kitten away from its mother is 12 weeks. But it’s better to wait a bit longer. In secondary socialization, it is essential to teach the kitten not to play with our hands or throw itself on our feet. This behavior may seem cute when the animal is small. However, when it grows up, it can become troublesome and dangerous. It’s a good idea to distract your pet by using rod toys.
How to unlearn cat aggression?
What to do with an aggressive cat to make it stop attacking people or other animals? First of all, make sure his behavioral needs are met. Perhaps your pet is just too stressed and insecure. If this is the case, make sure you make him comfortable. It is essential not to disturb your pet and even set aside at least a small corner in the house where he can hide and where no one will bother him. In a secluded place, you should also set the cat’s bowls and litter box, but remember that they can not be close to each other.
If it turns out that the cat is aggressive because of improper socialization, it is best to use the help of a behaviorist. Such cases are tough, so the decision to work with a professional may be necessary. But if it turns out that the nervous behavior of the animal is not behavioral, it is worth checking his health. The problem may be caused by a disease, for example, by a neuter procedure that has not been carried out. In case of such suspicion, you should immediately ask for help from a veterinarian.
How to tame an aggressive cat if it clearly gives warning signals? The best thing is to simply leave it alone and go away. Usually, the anger passes after some time, and the cat’s behavior returns to normal. If for some reason, your cat still intends to attack, you can try to cover yourself with a soft object such as a pillow.
Remember that an aggressive cat is not like this without reason. So if your pet is exhibiting these behaviors, be sure to find out what could be the cause and try to eliminate it.