Cats are generally considered to be very independent animals. They can often safely be left to their own devices. However, it is also the case that they can provide their owners with a lot of love and affection. In order to have a good relationship with a pet cat is important to be able to understand cat body language, and to interpret cat behavior.
Despite the fact that cats are independent they can also be very territorial about where they live. They will rub themselves in their area to leave scent behind. This behavior is known in the animal world as marking territory, and is done when a cat wants to alert others to its presence. This territorial behavior can often lead to aggression as local cats fight for dominance.
Fighting between cats can also occur when a neighborhood female cat is in season. Male cats will fight to be the first to mate with her. Sometimes a cat’s general aggression can be directed towards humans. This is one of the main cat problems which owners must be aware of. The aggression usually stems from a cat having insufficient social stimulation as a kitten, both from other cats and in interactions with humans.
Aggressive Cat Behavior Towards Humans
People who do not know many facts about cats, often under-estimate the damage a cat can do against a human. A small dog that is the same size as a cat can do little damage, but the different is that the dog only has one weapon the mouth, while the cat has five, the mouth and four paws with sharp claws. This is why all cat owners should take aggressive cat behavior towards humans very seriously.
There are many different reasons for aggressive cat behavior towards humans. The most commons reasons are learned aggression, violent play, defensive aggression, offensive aggression, aggression associated with handling and redirected aggression. Aggressive cat behavior towards humans are often related to illness and pain. Especially if your nice and kind cats turns aggressive.
Just like humans will the cats tolerance become low when it is in pain or ill. It will often become aggressive if you touch it or it think you will, were it is in pain. You should always have your cat checked if you suspect it to be this. When the cat is healthy again, will the aggression often disappear.
Learned aggressive cat behavior towards humans
Learned aggression is that the cat has learned in some situation can it pay of to be aggressive. The cat has learned it can get its way if it is aggressive.
A classic example of aggressive:
Your cat does not like to be brushed, a day were the cat is in an extra bad mood, will it hiss and try to hit you. You will pull your hand back. The cat will then think “HEY, my lovely owner stopped, I will just do the same next time”. It has now learned that by being aggressive towards you, it won’t have to be brushed.
Solution to this aggressive cat behavior towards human
If you react the way the cats want on its aggressive cat behavior, will it use the same tactic the next time. If your cat react aggressively when you touch it, the most correct way will be not to move the hand, but no one want to be close to an angry cat.
This is why you have to be clever, you could use like stick or something and keep touching it and just let it go all out on that stick. At some point the cat realize that it does not help and you should be able to touch it. You can increase the effect by giving the cat a snack if it does not react aggressive.
Violent play in cats
Aggression in the form of violent and uncontrolled play is very common, but also very easy to solve. The problem can be everything from the cat has its claws a little too far out when playing or the cat attacks the owner with biding and scratching.
Violent playing is mostly a problem for indoor cats, because they have to get of some energy. And they can’t run outside and hunt. It is a common problem when the cat is a kitten and a young cat, and it will often disappear when it grow up. But for some cats it does not disappear. There are two reasons for this behavior, under stimulating and learning and a lot of the times both.
Under stimulating is mostly indoor cats who are bored and because they can’t hunt birds and mice outside, they hunt humans to satisfy their hunting instinct.
It is often the cat owner who “teaches” the cat to be violent, because it fun to let the small kitten attack the hand or foot. And owner does not stop it, because it does not really hurt that much. But when the cat gets older, it still think it is okay, but now it hurts, because its teeth and claws has grown out. It is also a matter of kitten development.
When the kitten is small it fight with its siblings, if the cat bites two hard the other cat will react. And none of the cats want that, that is why the kittens adjusts the power of their bite so the playing can continue without anyone getting angry. Single kittens or kittens that have been taken away from the mother to soon will often have a hard time playing “nice”.
The solution to this is to learn the cat to play nice or prevent it from beginning to play rough. It is easy to prevent the cat from becoming violent if you follow these rules:
- Your hands are for caressing and not for playing.
- Always use toys when playing. So the cat attacks the toys and not you.
- Stop the playing if the cat begins to play rough.
- If the cat attacks the foot when hunting a toy, stand still, it is not fun to attack a “dead” foot.
- Make sure to play with your cat on a daily basis, especially with indoor cats.
- Make sure to stimulate the cat in different ways
If the cat already is aggressive the problem is harder to deal with, but it can still be possible learn the cat to play nice with this six rules. But if it more seriously you could try to spray the cat with some water if it is too violent.
NEVER user any form of physical punishment, it will only make it worse and more personal for the cat. Another solution could be to find the kitten or young cat a playmate.
Defensive Aggressive Cat Behavior Towards Humans
This is probably the most common reason for aggressive cat behavior towards humans. The cat uses the aggression as a defense. The cat becomes aggressive when it feels threatened, if it can escape will it’s normally do that. Defensive aggression often happens when a cat it held or is forced up in a corner. Insecure cats will often use this form of aggression.
A bad socializing can develop this form of aggression. A cat that is use to being carried around and held will often be more likely to accept a lot more than a cat who has not been use to it. Its behavior will become worse and worse, because it is a combination of learned aggression and defensive aggression.
Your cat is scared of the neighbor’s 4 year old girl because she once pulled it by the tail. Next time she does your cat will turn around and scratch her, and she stops. The cat now knows that it helps (learned aggression).
Next time she does it, will it do the same, this become worse and worse, and next time the little girl come over to visit you, your cat will instantly attack the girl, because then it does not have to be pulled by the tail.
Solution to this cat behavior
Defensive aggression is easiest being avoided by socializing the cat from the beginning. If the cat is very anxious and react very aggressive on you touching should you use the techniques from learned aggression. It is important never to corner a cat. And if there are kids evolved, tell them how to handle the cat correctly.
Offensive Aggressive Cat Behavior Towards Humans
This is the opposite of defensive aggression; this is where the cat uses aggression as a way of getting what it wants and to control certain situations. This cat behavior is normal with cats that are very confidence, and they know what they want and what they don’t, and they will not stand for anything.
The cat will often become aggressive in handling situation, like when it is getting brushed, it does not attack because it is scared like defensive aggression, but because it don’t want that right now. It only want to get petted when it is in the mood for it. It becomes worse if the owner accept this behavior, because it then becomes learned aggression.
Solution to this cat behavior
The keyword here is control. To take control you have to do following things. First you have to tell the cat that it gets nothing out of being aggressive, so if you are trying to get it down from the chair and it reacts aggressive, don’t stop, keep pushing it down.
To take control is it a good idea to use the approach “something for something”. The best things here is to take control over food.
First separate its daily portions in to small portions, ever time it’s time for food, you call after it. So it knows that it have to come to you to get food and not the other way around, you are not its waiter. When the cat comes try to touch it, start just by padding the back, if it reacts aggressive, you put the food away and wait for a bit and then try again.
Slowly increase the amount of handling and padding. The end result will be that the cat understands that it does not help to be aggressive.
Aggression Associated with Handling the Cat
Most cats love to get petted, and some even seek it. But it can suddenly change, and it bites and scratches and then run off. This is why many people who do not like cats say that they are unpredictable. It is hard to say what the reason for such behavior is, but it is most likely that the cat is in conflict with itself.
At one side it wants to get petted, but one the other hand it does not want the owner to get to close, or maybe there is some areas were the cat does not like to be petted. The cat has a line of how much and were it want to be petted, if the line is cross it becomes aggressive. The stomach is for some reason the place you don’t want to touch your cat.
Solution to this cat behavior
This problem can be prevented by socializing the kitten, if the kitten is use to being handled from it is a kitten, will most likely accept more handling when it grow up. But of course are all cats not the same, some cats love to be petted and someone does not.
It is also a great idea to learn the cats signals. Even though it looks like the cat just out of no where becomes aggressive does it actually show some signs, that indicate that you are soon crossing the line. First it will stop purring, and after that the tail will begin to swing from site to site, if that happens it is about time that you stop petting the cat.
You can also trough cat training make the cat love petting more. First you need to learn were the cats line is, when you do then stop before you cross it. For example if it likes to be petted in 1 min, then stop after 45 seconds. This should slowly increase the time of where the cats like to be petted.
There are 3 things you always should remember:
- Make sure never to hold the cat to hard
- Beware of the signs, that indicate that you should stop petting the cat.
- Do not touch the sensitive places on the cat, such as the stomach before you have trained it to accept it.
Redirected Aggressive Cat Behavior Towards Humans
Redirected aggression is when aggressive reactions are taken out on a target, which did not trigger the behavior. This happens when it is not possible to react on the “real” thing. This is common with most animals and humans. This redirected aggression often happens when another cat triggers the behavior.
For example if the cat is sitting in the window hissing at a cat outside, because it cannot get to it, but it is agitated it attacks you instead because you are the closet and easiest target.
Solution to this cat behavior
To solve this problem you have to find the reason for it, because this cannot be solved like other “aggressive cat behavior towards humans”, because it is not really the humans fault. If the cats attacks you when you stand between the cat and a new cat in the house should try to solve the problem between the two cats.
If your cat becomes aggressive because of cats outside the house, should try to remove the cats outside.
Aggressive Cat Behavior Toward Other Cats
It often happens that the peace in the house is ruined by two cats fighting or bulling each other. And it can be very frustrated for the other, who might have bought two cats so they can enjoy each other’s company, but instead they are fighting.
The reason for aggressive cat behavior toward other cats
There are many reasons that can create the problems between the cats. The most common problem to this aggressive cat behavior is territorial aggression. Even though a cat is very flexible when it comes to socializing, you must remember that it is by nature a loner and it only socialize with other cats when it is time for mating and for female cats when it takes care for the kittens.
If there is enough food in one place it sometimes happens that cats gather in communities, were they live and raise kittens together. It is not like herd, more a lot of cats who tolerate each other’s presence.
There is a lot of cats who live perfect together and love each other’s company. But just like humans are their some cats who can’t together. It is totally normal that there are small arguments, with some wheezing and a couple of paw strokes. You first have to be worried if it turns in to frequent arguments which turn in to real fights.
The kittens development has a great impact on the cats social behavior towards other cats. Cats who has grown up with other cats are more social than cats who have not. Also, cat who have been taken away from the mother to soon, is often more antisocial.
It also happens that indoor cats that can see cats moving around outside the house become aggressive towards each other. If two cats who normally is great friends becomes aggressive towards each other can be because one of the cats has been some were else, like the vet, and is carrying smells of other cats.
A house with a lot of cats can give the cats stress and stress can lead to aggression. It is not unusually to see that there is one cat out of many in the house who will be the victim to the others cats bullying. This is not a problem with outdoor cats because they can just hide or runaway for a while. But for indoor cats there is no hiding places and the cat won’t have a good life.
How to solve aggressive cat behavior towards other cats?
If you haven’t done it, than sterilize or castrate your cats. Cats who are sterilized or castrated tend to fight less. But it doesn’t help every time.
Prevent aggressive cat behavior
It is always a great idea to prevent a problem before it happens. It is always a good idea to introduce two cats to each other slowly. Start by keeping them separated with only a door between them, so they can smell each other. After a couple of days, open the door a bit so they can see each other, but not touch. After a couple of days more, you can put them together.
Stay in the background and be passive and calm, your anxiety can be felt by the cats. If the cats begin to fight, take a blanket or spray them with water to keep them apart. If the cats do not begin to fight you can begin to play with together. Or try to give them some cat herbs, this will make them more playful and it can break the ice between the two cats.
If your cats already are together, it can help if the cat has its own food, water and sleeping spot. Try to feed the cats together in the same room, but with great distance. If you are lucky will they accept each other over some time, because they relate the presence of the other cat to something nice, food.
You can also try pheromones. It is not all cats who can live together, and sometimes you just have to accept that you have to find a new home for one of the cats.
Cat behavior which is deemed to be aggressive or destructive can often been corrected by training cats. As with dogs, training a cat will involve rewarding desired behavior and punishing behavior which is deemed to be wrong. Cats cannot be trained to the same level of obedience as dogs. But their behavior can be altered with consistent and repetitive training.
A lot of cat behavior can be explained by the fact that domesticated cats are closely related to, and descended from, wild animals. When pet owners are looking for a cat behavior meaning it is often that any actions are instinctive as a result of evolution. Despite this, cat training is always a viable option to attempt to address any behavior which is deemed to be destructive or dangerous.